There’s nothing more classic than a strong, crimson pout. (At least in my beauty world.) But many vibrant-hued lipsticks are packed with lip-drying chemicals, “accidental ingredients” like lead, and mineral-oil bases meant to lubricate bike chains not your lips. I get that pigments are still primarily chemical- and insect-derived, but what about the other 98 percent of my lipstick?
Is it possible to find a red lipstick that’s both highly natural and high-performance? We put seven reds to the test:
Vapour Organic Beauty Lipstick, $22, www.vapourbeauty.com
Shade we tried: Siren Tryst 412
Best for: Creating a matte, bee-stung look.
This red weighs in somewhere between a lip balm and a stain, but the color lasts for hours and fades naturally and evenly. Even better, it comes in sixteen shades.
What’s in it: 70 percent certified organic ingredients, wildcrafted botanicals, no chemicals, and beeswax and jojoba for base ingredients. Made with wind power, and sold in sleek yet biodegradable packaging.
Christopher Drummond Beauty Creamy Lip Stain, $22.50, www.christopherdrummond.com
Shade we tried: Arouse
Best for: Those who want a true, bold red with wet-look color. The first application goes on sheer, but it layers to desired (smoking hot) intensity, and is surprisingly long wearing. It comes in a small compact with mirror and mini brush.
What’s in it: For a killer color, it’s a pretty simple ingredient list of mostly organic jojoba seed oil, aloe leaf gel, beeswax, pomegranate, and grape seed extracts, and vitamin E.
Korres Raspberry Liquid Lipstick, $22, www.korresusa.com
Shade we tried: 56 Red
Best for: Liquid-gloss lovers.
It slicks on like a liquid gloss with a wand and quickly dries to a lush lipstick finish, making it a good day or night lip product. Though its prone to feathering at the lip line, it keeps lips soft for hours.
What’s in it: Korres’ marquee ingredients are antioxidant raspberry and pomegranate extracts and certified organic acai oil. The product is also free of parabens, mineral oil, and propylene glycol. But if you consult the list of ingredients, you’ll see it’s not a chemical-free or a truly all-natural choice.
Nvey Eco Advanced Care Lip Color, $29, www.econveybeauty.com
Shade we tried: 356 Rich Brick Ruby
Best for: Achieving a natural look.
This lip color from Nvey Eco, an Australian organic makeup line, is more like a tinted balm than a lipstick. Available in 15 shades, it provides sheer to medium coverage with moderate staying power.
What’s in it: Nourishing safflower oil, organic castor oil, beeswax, and other natural emollients. Ingredient sourcing is strict; no dirty dozen ingredients or nano particles.
Primitive Natural Lipstick, $17.50, www.primitivemakeup.com
Shade we tried: Morocco
Best for: Medium color coverage that goes on like lip balm.
Though the line lacks a truly bold red (terracotta and raspberry tones are the closest you’ll get), they’re not heavy and have moderate staying power.
What’s in it: This line made in Woodstock, New York, keeps things simple with castor, wheat germ, and jojoba oils; candelilla and palm wax; shea butter and vitamin E. Lipsticks are also free of additives, preservatives, and artificial colors. Note: These lipsticks are smaller than regulation size.
Chantecaille Hydra Chic Lipstick, $30, www.chantecaille.com
Shade we tried: Tiger Lily
Best for: Anti-aging ingredients and a matte finish.
Chantecaille’s claim that color lasts for six hours is a stretch, but it does have reasonably good holding power.
What’s in it: Papaya, orchid, and sugar extracts soften lips and are work like anti-aging ingredients. Chantecaille doesn’t use fragrance or petrochemicals, making it a prestige brand with cleaner ingredient list. And the lipstick, housed in a slim tube, looks as posh as it feels.
Jane Iredale PureMoist LipColour, $19, shop.janeiredale.com
Shade we tried: Carrie
Best for: Creating a glamorous look and lip-conditioning ingredients
This soft, pretty red lives up to its promise to keep lips soft and tinted for hours. Built-in SPF 18 makes it a great summer choice, and it comes in a whopping twenty-six colors.
What’s in it: With antioxidants, smoothers like castor oil and beeswax, and anti-inflammatories like borage seed oil, this lipstick packs a lot of conditioning into one little tube. No FD&C dyes or synthetic preservatives are used.