Why Do You Think Red Is Such a Popular Lipstick Color?

Published in: Just For Fun

Illamasqua's Fiesty Coloring Pencil, Maneater Lipstick and Touch Intense Lipgloss

Wearing Illamasqua Lip Colouring Eye Pencil in scarlet red Feisty, Maneater Lipstick and Touch Intense Lipgloss


I don’t know if there’s a scientific reason behind it — like if it has anything to do with red being the color of blood and romance and hearts and hot-blooded passion — but it is one of those classic colors that defies trends. It seems like red lips are always in fashion.


Like when I see pictures of fashionistas and famous screen sirens from the last century, the ladies in red lips always look like they’re wearing makeup I’d want to wear in this era.

And then I think there’s also the romantic notion of there being a different perfect red lipstick out there for every woman (and makeup-loving dude).

I’ve been wearing red lips since I was a teenager, and I remember regularly prowling the local Thrifty looking for every new red tube because I wanted — no, I NEEDED! — to find my perfect red, too.

Red lips are one of makeup’s common denominators. I mean, if I had a 13-year-old daughter, I’d probably tell her to wait a few years before wearing that intense matte red lipstick, but I think I’d be OK with her wearing a sheer red lippie on special occasions. And if I’m lucky enough to still be around in my sassy 70s, you better believe I’ll still be rockin’ red lips. πŸ™‚

From two Christmases ago — my granny touching up her red lipgloss!

I do like to think that there’s a perfect red lippie out there somewhere for each and every one of us. The real fun is finding it.

What about you, friend? Why do you think red is such a popular lipstick color?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Agata says:

    First of all, how adorable is that picture of your granny??! Too cute! Red lip really suits me but I really don’t think it’s a color for me or maybe I just haven’t found that perfect red that you’re talking about. I just always feel that I look cartoonish wearing red lips.
    Agata recently posted … Sweet as Candy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Agata,

      Yeah, she’s sweet. She loooooves red. It’s her favorite color.

      I know what you mean about feeling funny about certain lip colors. I’m the same way with certain shades of pale pink.

      How have you been?

      • Agata says:

        I have been ok. Finally my body recovered from the trip to Poland and the time difference. I am going to NC this weekend for a friend’s wedding and I am really excited!
        Agata recently posted … Sweet as Candy

        • Karen says:

          Oh gosh, yeah…jet lag is killer. Ever notice how it’s easier for your body to adjust when you go forward in time than backward? I remember coming back from the Philippines after a three-week stay there and waking up in the middle of the night for a week straight.

          I hope you had fun on your trip. How is your mom doing? I bet she’s missed you!

  2. Icequeen81 says:

    Red is a pretty color, but not every shade of red works with everybody
    Some reds can looks pink on your lips, some too bright , some to dark and some just there the perfect one

    By me brick red is the solution or a red beet can also work good on me.1
    umm make up on 13 year old it depends. I think eyeliner is enough
    It depends also how developed is the child.Some are just 13 and look like 19 so there u need to be careful.I had a student like that, with make up she looked like 23.

  3. Sophie says:

    I almost never wear red lipstick. I’m one of those people on whom it just never looks good. Maybe I haven’t found the perfect red, though. I much prefer shades of pinks and coral.

  4. Dominique says:

    First of all your granny looks so nice.
    Red is a popular colour and in times of darkness, economic issues and wars all over the world it’s a colour of life, optimism too. During WWII most women would wear some red lipsticks and high heels too, red means living at all costs, Christian Dior himself said that red meant life. That’s why I think.

  5. Yanhong says:

    Cute granny! I did an essay in my social psych class on the “sexy red”. From my literature review, the explanation that makes most sense to me was from an evolutionary perspective. Researchers think that men are attratted to women in red because, back in the days (our primate ancestors’ buts get red to attract males.. And nowadays red is a symbol of passion and romance. I thought it was a really cool explantation. Lol.. πŸ™‚

  6. ericca says:

    Go granny. She reminds me of my abuelita who is very beauty conscious. I think red lips are so popular because they are so sexy. I heard that red lipstick was made to imitate the color of a woman’s lips post coitus.

  7. Fancie says:

    I think red is just a sexy, classic color that everyone can wear. Some people feel like they can’t pull off certain colors but everyone seems to love red. I can definitely see why! It’s a great statement color!
    Fancie recently posted … Maybelline Radiant Raspberry Color Elixir Review

  8. It’s classic, it’s sexy and there’s a shade of red out there for everyone, so I guess that why it’s such a winning color!
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Review | Bourjois 1 Seconde nail polish, Instant Dry Nail Enamel Dryer & Magic Nail Polish Remover for Hands & Feet

  9. Julia says:

    Your lips naturally go redder after orgasm (look it up I’m not BS’ing you, lol). I think this has to do with why it is so attractive and ‘hot’.

  10. Divya says:

    So makeup love runs in the family! πŸ˜› Your granny is adorable! My grandmother lives nail paints! she always have nudish nail color on! Back to the point, I think red is a very convinient color, it eliminates the need for another makeup on the face, besides taking the attention away from any flaws!
    Divya recently posted … Gems From The Neglected Lot – 1

  11. Rachel P. says:

    I totally agree with red being timeless, and for me, I think it’s because it’s quite a natural color. Perhaps not bright orange-reds or glossy violet-reds, etc, but red in and of itself. With time, we’ve taken a shade that’s been around forever, which occurs in nature and in the human body, and played with it to suit modern trends (and just for the sake of having fun with it!). Lips can be naturally reddened, but I’ve never met anyone who had naturally (or healthfully) orange, green, or neon yellow lips (although I’m sure there are exceptions). I think that might be why electric orange is not a standby glamour color through the ages- it’s awesome and artistic and something people should try, but it’s not exactly natural! My bottom line: red, even in all its drama- glammed, glitzed, mattified, or sheered out- is still a natural shade at its heart of hearts! Just one person’s thoughts πŸ™‚

  12. Renata says:

    As Julia pointed out, lips go redder after orgasm, but according to some researchers, it does mimic the female sexual organ and it does go redder (and plumper! That rings a bell as to why fuller lips are also so sexy!) with sexual arousal, so in a way women would keep their lips reddish, wet and fuller to sort of show up what’s going under the dresses… πŸ˜‰ (check Allan and Barbara Pease’s books. Don’t know whether they’re authorities on the matter, but it’s all there!). It’d be a more “biological” explanation, though you don’t need any biology to appreciate red as a seductive color that can take any flavor you want: classy, sassy, young,mature, flamboyant, discreet… All in all it’s a classic color and it’s like the little black dress – a sure bet! πŸ™‚

    • Sylirael says:

      Haha, this was the explanation I was going to give, but I was wondering if it would weird out the tone of the comments ^_^ high fives for science! πŸ˜€

      In less swollen-genitalia-related terms, I think because we’ve been trying to make our lips and cheeks redder for millenia (makes you look healthier and therefore a better breeding bet – uh oh, we’re slipping into bio again!), the idea has sunk into the collective human female psyche. That doesn’t mean everyone’s comfortable with super opaque high shine lacquered fire engine red lips, but just that ‘redder’ lips seem like a good thing. Plus, the colour red has other very positive/lucky/powerful connotations in many cultures, so that probably adds to the appeal?

      P.S. Your grandmother is many kinds of awesome πŸ˜€
      Sylirael recently posted … Rogueish Fun and Games – A Gandyl the Grey Caption Contest!

    • Eva S says:

      Exactly. It’s a very biological explanation, but that’s exactly why it’s so appealing to men, and why we love it. And it fits to almost every outfit.

  13. anita says:

    Great pictures!

    I think men find red lipstick sexy also red nails. Also red is a luxery colour. Thats why i think red lipstick is Hot.

    Xoxo http://fashionistaorbreakfast.blogspot.com

  14. kat says:

    For the longest time I struggled with red lipstick. I have olive skin so I’d oscillate between preferring slightly orange or slightly purple reds. When I wore either, I still felt like a kid playing dress up. I figured it was just the wrong color, and the search continued. My lips are a little thin compared to other women. Plus, my frenulum connecting the gum to the top lip is overdeveloped or something, so my top lip is kinda funny shaped when I talk. Red lipstick just seemed to emphasize all the weird parts of my face.
    I did managed to ease into red by using a balm stain, for a slightly glossy, sheer wash of red. Not sophisticated but definitely wearable.
    Then one day, I finally saw a usable trick. Wait for it…
    After I apply lipstick, I smudge the outside line of my lip with my finger. So, rather than a harsh ‘edge’ between my skin/foundation and lipstick, there is a tiny 1-2mm blended border. All of a sudden red or dark or bright lipstick doesn’t look ‘overdone.’ I look casually elegant, magically, just by blending the lip line.
    I can’t find any pictures of it so I hope I described it well.
    So, amigas, if you think all red lipsticks fail on you, try this trick (or try sheers!)!

  15. Majick says:

    Because it’s PURTY! LOL

    I loved reading everyone’s comments and I’ve heard the same stories. I just really appreciate that you all said it so eloquently.

    I’ve been a bit “crotchety” this week so my speak ain’t so nice.

    (but my lips are red, LOL)

    • Carla N. says:

      I think red is a perennial favorite for a number of reasons.
      For one, it’s versatile – it can say “glamor” or “power.” Or both, simultaneously, which is VERY potent.Once you find “your” red, it will light up your whole face, making your skin look its best, and you may feel like you need very little other makeup, or even none. There’s nothing like bold red to say “I’m confident, stylish,beautiful, and have got my act together.”
      Who wouldn’t want to project that?
      And, as someone else pointed out, red is a “natural” color for the lips. Think of the heroines in fairy tales who had “blood red” lips.
      I think red will always be around, as a lipstick color. Shades like orange or purple will come and go, but I don’t think a well-applied red will ever truly look “dated.”

    • Karen says:

      Aww, Majick. Is everything OK? I hope you feel less crotchety soon.

  16. brenda says:

    For me, red lipstick says ‘here i am’ and having the confidence to wear it and stand out from the rest of the crowd!

  17. Kaelyn says:

    Red lips are just a classic staple in the beauty world. It’s true! I think every woman is on the hunt to find her perfect red lip! I’m eyeing up the new lip gloss in the maleficent collection from MAC right now!

  18. Katherine M says:

    Your granny is so cute! Ok, here it is from the psych major on the color red: Red is seen as a power color. When it is worn, people see you as powerful, confident and able to handle anything. I was just reading a study recently that was saying that women who wore red in the form of clothes or lipstick to interviews for a powerful type of position were more likely to get the promotion/position.

    I personally like red lipstick on others but I’m not sure how I feel about it on myself. When I wear the one that I own, I’m halfway between liking it and feeling powerful and feeling like I’m playing dress-up. I’ve been more of an eye person than a lip person – If I want to make a power woman statement, I have eyes dressed to kill. I’m also afraid of the lipstick coming off and me looking sloppy, but yet I’m not ready to commit to long-wearing, stay-all-day formulas like Cover Girl makes. I tend to wear my red lipstick as a stain or light balm, so I still get the power color but not so much of it.

    • Karen says:

      She’s a sweetie. Back in the day she worked the beauty pageant circuit!

      Didn’t know you were a psych major. I learn something new about you every day. πŸ™‚

      How have you been? Has school been OK?

  19. Chelsea says:

    I love your granny! Neither of my grandmothers, nor my mother for that matter, are/were into makeup!

    My first experience with red lipstick was stage makeup for a pageant at my high school. Mary Kay in Copper Mine – It was a beautiful, warm, slightly metallic red lipstick. I wore an emerald green dress for the “Poise” part, and it looked great together! I definitely didn’t win (went into it knowing that – I was not the “pageant type”) but I totally had the best makeup. Thank you to that wonderful Mary Kay lady for getting me into it!

    • Karen says:

      Oh, that color sounds so pretty! I love those metallic coppery reds, especially in the fall. I bet it looked great with your coloring.

      • Chelsea says:

        It was quite flattering! Way better than I expected!

        • Karen says:

          It’s always great to find gems that you’d never pick out for yourself. πŸ™‚ That’s cool that you did a pageant. I’ve never done one but always thought it would be fun. I was too shy though.

  20. Ur granny is so adorable.. and I agree that even teenagers can rock sheer red lips.. πŸ˜€

    May be its because of red in the blood that we love red lips so much.. πŸ˜‰ .. I started little late with red lips but now I just cant stop flaunting one atleast once in a week.. my fav red is orangey red.. like Revlon Really red! πŸ˜€
    Poo@beautyandmakeupmatters recently posted … CHANEL Le Vernis Nail Color Alchimie #591 Review, Swatch, NOTD

  21. Erin says:

    Red is the longest wavelength in the spectrum and because of this it’s the first color we respond to in our surroundings usually. Viewing red can actually stimulate your respiration and heart rates. You can then have psychological effect based on the neurological/physical reaction.It’s very similar to fear, love, excitement, or arousal of any type. Thus it can create all of those emotions!
    Erin recently posted … Salux Nylon Japanese Beauty Towel Review

  22. Maria says:

    Red my favorite color…. when I wear it, be as clothes or on my lips it makes me feel a little glamorous…I think I’m not alone when I say that red lipstick reminds me of old Hollywood glamour , long gone but brought back for that instant on ones lips…..

  23. Ashwini says:

    I like red lipstick because it’s the colour that looks the best on me. But I don’t wear intense red lipcolours often, only for parties. Other times, I stick with a softer or sheer red like Revlon Lip Butter Candy Apple. πŸ™‚

  24. Fran says:

    That photo of your gran is super cute! I do love red lipstick — I just wore the Too Faced Melted liptstick in Melted Ruby for the first time this week — and a 92-year-old male client who never notices *anything* actually asked me if I was wearing a different color lipstick than usual — don’t think he actually liked it, though, lol. It really is bright. While wearing it, if I smile widely with my lips closed I remind myself of the Jack Nicholson Joker character in that Batman movie. No need to keep your lips closed when you smile with that on, though, it really makes your teeth look white! The Joker reference aside, I really like it. That Melted formula is great. It goes on so easily and lasts and lasts.

  25. buckycatt says:

    POWER! When women (incl me) wear red lips they feel & act powerful. Those real housewives in NYC are fierce & when they wear red – look out! Loving Carole Radziwill on there. Read her memoir & it was amazing! Oh & I’ve tried tons, but on my fair skin MAC reds rule.

  26. Vikki says:

    I think red is a popular color because it was the original lipstick color to begin with. If you look at the history of lipstick it is the color red that is most used. The ancient Egyptians, Queen Elizabeth, Carmine Lipstick in the US. And it is super flattering, if you do it right. It’s also super feminine but powerful. Red is a power color. I feel incredible when I wear my favorite red lipstick.

  27. zFashionizta says:

    I β™₯ RED!
    Red is classic, sexy, timeless and goes with everything.
    Red is very feminine and whenever I wear it, I feel confident and strong.

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