Red lipstick has been a make-up party staple for decades and there’s no better time of year to bring out that warm imperial red than Christmas. Symbolising all that is the festive season from Santa to holly berries – and even Rudolph’s nose! – a scarlet pout is as essential for the holiday spirit as giving gifts, sharing bad cracker jokes and decking the halls.
But while today slapping on a little red lipstick may be festive and feminine, this make-up bag arsenal wasn’t always so light-hearted. A symbol of female empowerment for over a century, it rocketed to political fame in 1912 when American women marched for equal rights wearing red lipstick as a sign of defiance. They were supported by cosmetics founder Elizabeth Arden who joined the stand, handing out free tubes of her bright red lipstick to female protestors in New York.
Today we live in a different world where make-up is no longer shunned by society and men are not as scared of red lips as they once were! Instead red lipstick is now widely regarded as chic, feminine, flattering but still, powerful.
Audrey Hepburn once said: ‘There is a shade of red for every woman,’ and she wasn’t wrong. Nowadays women have a wide variety of shades at their disposal, from vibrant cherry red through to scarlet or a deep claret. Knowing which shade suits you best can be a challenge but before making that final choice, check out the natural crimsons on offer that gives pouts some clout while caring for the planet.
The Red Lipstick Lowdown
What we know now that wasn’t general knowledge a few decades ago is that often our favourite lipsticks contain harmful, petroleum-based chemicals such as parabens – used to to prevent growth of mould and extend a products shelf life – that easily penetrate the skin and can be damaging to our health. Dark shades are worse as many conventional lipsticks use mineral dyes containing heavy metals to give specifically red lipsticks a strong pigment. These include lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminium, zinc, chromium and iron that can be absorbed through your skin, some of which have been associated with reproductive, developmental, and other health effects.
Suffice to say, looking for a red lipstick that uses a blend of natural ingredients is a far safer alternative. Look for formulations that include shea butter, jojoba oil, Argan and castor oil that hydrate your lips without any of the nasty side effects. Also, avoid those heavy metals and look for products that are pigmented using vegan ingredients.
Thankfully there are a multitude of clean beauty brands offering gorgeous natural and organic lipstick alternatives. Here at The Ethicalist we have been busy picking out our favourite festive reds so all you have to worry about is which vibrant shade you’ll be rocking around the Christmas tree this year.
Ilia Beauty Tint Hydrating Lip Balm, Lady, AED105
This multi award-winning tint hydrating lip balm is for those who want a subtle colour on their lips but don’t want to go all out. Perfect for building upon, this lip balm has a subtle festive vanilla scent perfect for the time of year. Formulated with ingredients including rosehip oil & shea butter for a smooth, hydrated look, we think the burgundy hues of Lady would pair perfectly with a mug of mulled spice. Ilia lip balms are clean, cruelty-free, gluten-free and silicone-free.
Available from Secret Skin
Kjaer Weis, Lipstick, KW Red, AED215
This certified organic lipstick in KW Red will give you maximum coverage of a classic colour that will see you through the whole day of festivities. Made using ingredients such as rosehip, Jojoba oil and Shea butter, this matte red lipstick nourishes and hydrates to keep your lips looking both smooth and sharp. Certified organic, free from parabens and artificial colouring, this stunning lipstick is also refillable. Other Christmas colours in the range include Glorious and Sucré.
Available from Kjaerweis.com
Clove + Hallow Lip Crème, Flaming Coral, AED115
This best-selling creamy lipstick offers bold pigmentation, deep nourishment, and a semi-matte finish that never feels dry. Flaming Coral is for those who don’t want to go the full hog with a deep festive red but still want a splash of colour. Made from a cocktail of organic ingredients including jojoba, castor, and sunflower oils, Clove + Hallow also offer a Clean15™ Guarantee that every product contains 15 or fewer safe ingredients per base formula. PETA-certified cruelty-free and vegan, even the tube is made from 100 per cent recycled plastic!
Other festive colours in the range include Damsel and Eternity
Available from Clove + Hallow
Lily Lolo Vegan Lipstick, Flirtation, AED65
Flirtation is a bold mid-toned red with pink hues that has heaps of festive warmth. A brand-new formulation from this earth-loving brand, it includes nourishing grapeseed, argan, and sunflower seed oils meaning it won’t dry out your lips. Free from harsh chemicals, it is both long lasting and hydrating, with the added bonus of being vegan, gluten free, GMO free and cruelty free.
Stripped would also work as another festive tone
Available from Misspaletteable
CLE Cosmetics, Melting Lip Powder ,True Red, AED95
True Red, as the name suggests, is a veritable classic tone. Beautiful on medium to tanned skin tones, it dries matte and is long lasting. The innovative Melting Lip Powder transforms pigmented powder into a long-wearing lip tint upon application. True Red can be worn as a light layer of colour or used for a bolder look. The added bonus is this parabens-free, vegan powder can be applied to the eyes and cheeks too for a flush of extra colour.
Desert Rose would also work as a seasonal colour.
Available from MissPaletteable
Lisa Eldridge True Velvet Lip Colour, Velvet Jazz, AED115
A muted, earthy, brick red inspired by the 1930s, this saturated and highly pigmented lipstick has a creamy, hydrating matte finish with a slight sheen. The formulation is non drying on the lips and promises to give you long-lasting colour. Cruelty free, this luxurious lipstick is also free from parabens, talc, gluten and fragrance.
Other festive colours in the range include Velvet Ribbon and Velvet Duchess
Available from Lisaeldridge.com
Ilia Beauty Lipstick Crayon, 99 Red Balloons, AED105
What’s a lipstick without a liner? Pioneering Ilia Beauty’s 99 Red Balloons, with its brick red tone, is a perfect match for traditional festive lipstick. Formulated with sunflower seed and coconut oils for a healing effect, candelila wax locks in the moisture and colour. It’s buildable and can be layered on for a bold, semi-matte look. The moisturising satin formula is 54 per cent organic, gluten free and vegan.
Available at Ounass