Ah, red lipstick—all the versatility of beauty's Swiss army knife with none of the functionality. And the term alone contains multitudes! You've got your blue reds, orange reds, red-oranges (there's a difference), nude reds (yes!), pinks that are kind of red, but not really, are you sure this is a red? Etc etc, the list goes on for the next 100 years, and your need for a proper red lipstick has disintegrated along with most of your cell tissue.
That sounds deeply unpleasant—let's settle on six essential reds instead. Anything more inspires fatigue, and anything less is too limited. Truly, the perfect red lipstick is a wardrobe of red lipsticks, all wont to be layered and played with and worn out and kissed off. We've said it before, we'll say it again: one just isn't enough.
The Unred: Tom Ford Wild Ginger
Profile: Notes of vivid orange
It qualifies, sure, but only just barely—a freshly-picked blood orange is the de facto red lip of summer, but looks unexpected (and optimistic) when worn in the cold, too.
Carola wears a Tibi top and pants
The Fluorescent: Chanel Rebelle
Profile: Poppy, but not pink.
Instant classic. And Chanel, of course.
Carola wears a Ji Oh top, and a Betty Barbs ring
The Hint: Tatcha Red Camellia Balm
Profile: Just a touch of color
Red is such an obvious choice for balm that it's a wonder people don't reach for it more. Tatcha's balm melts in like a moisturizer and gives off a barely-there tint, which is both the antithesis of red lipstick and the beauty of it. And it looks just as good on cheeks.
Carola wears a Claudia Li dress
The Redwood: Kevyn Aucoin Bloodroses
Profile: Rooted in earthy brown.
A favorite of makeup artist Ingeborg for its seamless combination of warm mahogany and a cool red, which makes it simultaneously complexion-warming and teeth whitening. How many of your current lipsticks can do both?
Carola wears a Phelan denim jacket, Agnona sweater and Sea NY shorts
The Siren: Sisley Tango
Profile: Five alarm fire engine red.
A standout color that's equal parts magenta and ruby. As such, best worn instead of jewelry.
Carola wears an Agnona dress and an Amanda Pearl necklace
The Full Vamp: Troy Surratt Seductrice
Profile: Full-bodied burgundy.
Doesn't the shade name say it all?
Carola wears an A Détacher top
Carola Remer (Marilyn) photographed by Tom Newton. Makeup by Ingeborg. Hair by Timothy Aylward. Styled by Rachel Gilman.