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The Power of Red Lips on International Women's Day—Plus, Which Shades to Sport

Commemorate the day with a red lip as bold as the women you celebrate.
  • Elizabeth Denton
February 21, 2024

Red is a power color, invoking passion, strength, and emotion. If it’s a hue that you don’t wear often, International Women’s Day is the perfect occasion to make an exception. Whether you dress head-to-toe in red or opt for a bright pop of the shade to elevate your overall look, you can’t miss out on the opportunity to wear a striking red lipstick. From candy apple hues to vampy burgundy tones and red-pink colors, there is a shade of red lipstick out there to suit everyone. Read on as we share different ways to put your own spin on a red lip, plus the best red lipsticks to add to your cart for the occasion.

The Feminist History of Red Lipstick

Bright red lipstick is always a good idea, but it’s especially appealing when you understand the shade’s powerful history. Crimson’s ties to feminism began all the way back in 1912 when women began fighting for the right to vote. In fact, suffrage leaders were said to have worn red lipstick as an act of defiance. This bold move inspired one makeup founder to actually pass out free red lipstick during the suffragette march in NYC (solidarity!).

The defiant hue continued to be a hallmark of feminist values throughout the decades. During World War II, for example, women sported red lipstick to their factory jobs as a way to showcase their empowerment. While not nearly as radical as it once was, red continues to be a color of power even to this day. That’s why it’s among our favorite hues to wear on International Women’s Day.

The Psychology Of Red Lipstick

Right now, you may be wondering why red is such a powerful color. You’re not alone: Experts have been wondering the same for years. Turns out, there are psychological reasons why we associate red with strength. Read on to learn more.

1. Red can make you feel more powerful

Studies show that wearing red communicates dominance (and, weirdly, wearing red can make you more likely to win sporting events). Rocking the hue can evoke a sense of power that you didn’t know you had. So if you have a big meeting or are heading into work to ask for a raise, pop on your favorite red lipstick and let it inspire you to own your confidence.

2. Exposure to red can give you energy

There’s a reason why we associate red with energy. Apparently, exposure to the vibrant hue can increase your heart rate, giving you the sensation of an energy boost. The effects aren’t on par with, say, sipping on a cold brew—but if you’re feeling down, try wearing red lipstick to perk yourself up.

3. Red can make you feel passionate

Wearing red on a first date just might lead to date two. Red symbolizes passion, love, and desire—and those who wear red are seen as more attractive than those donning other hues.

4 of Our Favorite Red Lipsticks Of All Time

Red lipstick comes in many different shades and finishes. From matte candy apple red to satin blue-red and vampy tones, you’re sure to find the best red lipstick for you. Here are a few of our all-time favorites.

L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Satin Lipstick Limited Edition in Red My Lips

For a true red hue that feels comfortable on the lips, try this limited-edition lippie. The creamy, comfortable formula is enriched with argan oil, and the bold color doesn’t smudge, bleed, migrate, or feather. Best of all, 100% of the proceeds go to Stand Up Against Street Harassment and Right to Be, so you can feel confident while you support a good cause.

L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Intense Volume Matte Lipstick in Le Rouge Determination

With a slim, precise bullet, this matte lipstick serves as a lip liner and lipstick in one. Le Rouge Determination is a candy apple red shade with intense color payoff and a vibrant finish that wears for up to 16 hours. We love how the non-drying formula leaves our lips feeling softer with each swipe, too.

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L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Reds Of Worth Satin Lipstick With Saturated Color

The Reds of Worth collection comes in six vibrant shades ranging from deep crimson to firetruck red. They all share a satin finish that wears comfortably on the lips and offer saturated color that stays vibrant all day long. If you’re looking for a shade to make your teeth look whiter, try a blue-red hue, like Respected Red.

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L’Oréal Paris Infallible Matte Resistance Liquid Lipstick in Le Rouge Paris

Matte lipsticks can sometimes feel dry or chalky, but not L’Oréal Paris Infallible Matte Resistance Liquid Lipstick. The weightless formula feels hydrating on the lips and delivers intense color payoff with up to 16 hours of comfortable wear. We love all of the bold shades, but Le Rouge Paris is a perennial favorite: The confident, rich red is a perfect choice for International Women’s Day.

3 Ways to Wear Red Lipstick This International Women’s Day

A swipe of red lipstick is always a timeless look, but here are three ways to put a twist on this classic hue.

Add a pop of glitter

If red lipstick is your signature look, revamp it for Women’s Day with a coat of matching glitter. First, line and fill your lips with a red lip liner, like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lip Liner in Always Red. Then, apply a satin-finish red lipstick, like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Satin Lipstick in Ruby Flame. Finally, use your index finger to lightly dab a fine cosmetic-grade, lip-safe red glitter over your lipstick for an unexpected and undeniably bold finish.

Add some gloss

Glass lips are glossy lips dialed up a few notches. They look juicy, slick and wet and are a fun way to update your go-to lipstick look. To get the glassy effect, apply lipstick with a satin finish (try L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Reds Of Worth Satin Lipstick With Saturated Color in Prosperous Red). Next, take a red lip gloss, like the L’Oréal Paris 8 Hour Pro Lip Gloss, Hydrating Finish in Red Fatale, and dab it over your lipstick for added color and shine. Finish by applying clear gloss (we recommend L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro Gloss Plump in Mirror) to just the center of your lips. The different layers of gloss will give your lips a wet, glassy look that a single swipe of lip gloss can’t.

Experiment with a new makeup trend

Blush lips are a take on a Korean beauty trend—blush nails—which is characterized by a diffused wash of pink or red color. On the lips, it resembles ombré lipstick or a post-popsicle lip stain. To get the K-beauty-inspired look, apply a matte red lipstick, like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Intense Volume Matte Lipstick in Le Rouge Avant-Garde to the center of your lips only. With a clean lip brush, or just your finger, blend the lipstick outwards to create a soft, diffused wash of color.

Once you’re happy with the blending, take a sheerer pink lipstick, such as L’Oréal Paris Glow Paradise Balm-in-Lipstick with Pomegranate Extract in Peach Charm, and apply it to the center of your lips, rubbing them together to blend. The goal isn’t to give your lips a shiny finish, but to add some moisture and diffuse the red lipstick even more for that effortless blushed lip effect.

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