"Red," I Said: A Comprehensive Guide to Budget Red Lipsticks

Hello my dear lovely ladies,

It's Christmas Eve in the U.S and I'm still blogging! This year, despite the economy, I feel very festive and hope to enjoy the holidays the way I want: with peace and joy in my heart! With that in mind, I feel the urge to reach for my red lipsticks every single chance I get. Let's see how I've done so far:
  • Go grocery shopping: wear red lipstick,
  • Go to the post office: wear another red lipstick,
  • Go to school: tone down a bit- wear red lip gloss (!)
  • At home watching TV: wear red lipstick, which is almost everyday now,
  • Sitting in front of the computer blogging: wear a different red lipstick, again!
The irony is I used to be afraid of red anything and everything. I rarely wore anything with that color at all as I felt washed out. Then I started to blog here and got braver and braver. And one day, you saw me doing this (no kidding!) From that moment on, my life has changed: I started embracing the sanguine shade of lipstick and began my search for the true red lippie of my life. However, with a twist of fate, I cannot rock the reddest red lips to school everyday. After all, I am not a fine arts major and my field is really conservative, hence the tone down lip gloss and balm.

As the holiday season is knocking on our doors, I find my legitimate reason to rock the reds and here is my little comprehensive guide to red lipsticks, especially budget ones.

Le comparative study: Reds in all shades, sizes, and prices
Note: number 4 is MAC Red and 5 is MAC Russian Red, the other colors are comparative to those two
  1. Maybelline Royal Red ($5 USD): closest to Russian Red in term of color and texture.
  2. NYC Retro Red (99 cents): is the doppelganger of Russian Red, read more about it later.
  3. NYX Gardenia ($1-3.50 USD): vampy red lipstick, my first red!
  4. MAC Red
  5. MAC Russian Red
  6. Wet n Wild Hot Red (99 cents): bright red, very sanguine and pretty. (Read more later!)
  7. Rimmel Alarm ($5 USD): a little bit brighter than Russian Red, very pigmented and moist.
  8. Rimmel Temptation (also $5 USD): a bit darker than Russian Red and very pretty.
As much as I love red, it is hard for me to justify spending $14 on Russian Red. Since I don't wear it everyday after the holiday season, buying a cheap drugstore lipstick and wearing it once in a while is a much better solution for me. These days drugstore makeup are getting better and better, which made me feel adventurous to try out some of the rock-bottom red lipsticks. Beside NYX Gardenia that I have for a while now, I picked NYC Retro Red and Wet n Wild Hot Red to "experiment". Three of them combined did not cost me more than 4 dollars and I've had a lot of fun with them.

The three sanguine amigos (L-R): NYC Retro Red, Wet n Wild Hot Red, and NYX Gardenia

< style="font-size:130%;">1. NYX Gardenia

NYX Gardenia in full glory

Lip swatch

There's no doubt that NYX Gardenia has been featuring heavily in this blog. Although the texture is a tad drying, it has been the red that I love due to its vampy nature. Also, it is not really bright which makes Gardenia very wearable. It is a must for red lipstick lovers.

2. NYC Retro Red (308B)

NYC Retro Red

Lip swatch, pardon my chapped lips!

NYC is known among makeup artists as a budget brand that offers some stellar products for less than 5 dollars. This company even goes the distance to compare its products with high end ones. The NYC moisturizing lipstick is comparable to MAC lipstick, according to their website. At first, I thought they were kidding to compare a 99 cent lipstick to a 14 dollar one. After all, MAC is known for their lipsticks. Curiosity got the best of me when I saw how similar the NYC lipstick packaging is: the same bullet shaped version like MAC, except the cap is clear. Now, NYC really is trying to tell me something! I willingly shelled out my hard earned dollar plus tax to bring home the Retro Red, hoping to have a good laugh.

However, the joke is on me! Retro Red not only is a great red lipstick but also the twin sister of its 14 times more expensive MAC sister Russian Red! And no, I am not kidding! Almost everything that Russian Red has, Retro Red also owns...for 99 cents! Except for the slight floral smell, I find this lipstick quite moisturizing and the pigmentation is stunning. Somewhere, I can hear a MAC SA weeping over the lost of sale on a MAC Russian Red.

3. Wet n Wild Hot Red (#519A)

What's wet and wild and red? Hot Red!

The lip swatch, minus the chapped skin.

Wet n Wild holds a lot of memories with me: in the 80s, this brand is popular with its wild fuchsia lipsticks that everyone, including my mom, seemed to wear. Somewhere in my parents' house, there is at least a photo of me around 8 years old wearing one shade of those! When Marie Claire recommended Hot Red as one of their favorite red lipsticks, I took note to try it one day. Among the Yves Saint Laurent, LancĂ´me, and Chanel, this red lipstick is red enough to be included.

When the day came for me to bring it home, I was quite disappointed of how sheer the texture is at first. However, the lipstick is buildable and very moist-the moistest of the three, to be precise. In the lip swatch picture, you can see my lips look quite shiny. It is comfortable to wear and the lipstick fades into a tint, which looks quite pretty. Like NYC lipstick, this one also has a faint fruity-floral fragrance which quickly fades away.

The most interesting thing about Hot Red is its brightness: of the three lipsticks, it is the brightest and makes my teeth look blindly white! Hot Red is a lot brighter than Russian Red and probably has the same shade as MAC Red or even Ruby Woo. I haven't attempted going out with this lipstick yet because it definitely demands attention from strangers.

If you have never worn red lipsticks in your life, I urge you to give it a try. These lipsticks are very inexpensive and have blue base, which makes your teeth look much whiter. Also, I find blue-base lipsticks easier to wear than orange-base ones. While putting on a red lipstick gives me more charm and power, taking it off makes me feel naked and...normal! No wonder why all super-heroines have red lippies on!

Take care ladies and happy Christmast Eve!

Your Makeup Blogger

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