The Stars Who Taught Us How To Wear Red Lipstick

The Stars Who Taught Us How To Wear Red Lipstick

Nothing makes us feel sexier than wearing red lipstick. It's amazing how something that's packaged in a tiny tube can bring about a sense of grandeur. Plus, it's way more affordable than a pair of red-bottom Christian Louboutin heels.

Since the 1940s, red lipstick was one of the key symbols of feminine glamour, according to Lipstick Queen creator Poppy King. "Red lipstick and finger-curled hair was a woman's crowing glory in the '40s and served as a symbol of power and ability. During the war, there was even a term ('Rosie the Riveter') for the power woman had with their hair and red lipstick in place to do any job or task that was needed, regardless of difficulty," said King.

When we think of red lipstick, famous faces such as Marilyn Monroe, Dita Von Teese and Gwen Stefani come to mind. And we can't help but try to recreate their glossy, matte and satin red lip looks. But King believes that the ideal of red lipstick has changed over the years, transforming from a must-have standard for women into a niche product that many women are reluctant to wear.

She explained, "It is a very misunderstood product in that women assume you need confidence to wear red lipstick when actually red lipstick gives you confidence, but you need to get past the mental block."

"Many women also feel that when you red lipstick you need to wear a full face of makeup like in the '80s when you wore red lipstick with technicolor eyeshadow, big hair and shoulder pads. Ever since the '90s, we have been emancipated from this overdone look and the fear is to go back. Yet, red lipstick worn in the 21st century version of glamour is worn with minimal makeup so that the look is relaxed glamour that makes it chic rather than retro," said King.

King's advice for finding the perfect shade of lipstick? Try as many as possible. "You will realize which ones complement your hair, skin and eyes. The right shades make it look as though your whole face has lit up. If they don't have that effect, then that red isn't the best for you," she said. "And do your eye makeup after putting on the red lipstick -- less eye makeup looks better while wearing red lipstick."

Check out some of the most iconic red lipstick looks over the years below.

Rita Hayworth, 1944: Hayworth was one of the first film sirens to turn the red lip into a signature look. Many stars would follow suit.

rita hayworth

Lucille Ball, 1947: It's not only sexpots who rock the red lip. Ball proved that funny girls can add some spice to their look.

lucille ball

Elizabeth Taylor, 1960: Taylor knew that a great way to emphasize her glamorous eyes was to swipe on some deep red lipstick.

elizabeth taylor

Marilyn Monroe, 1952: This sex symbol is the picture of seduction with glossy crimson lips.

marilyn monroe

Madonna, 1985: During her "Like a Virgin" phase, Madonna's shockingly red lips added an ironic twist to her naughty Catholic look.


Selena, 1994: The Latina beauty amped up her white Grammys ensemble with bold red lips.


Carolyn Bessette, 1998: The blonde wife of John F. Kennedy Jr. often accented her undeniable beauty with a bright red lipstick.

carolyn bessette

Penelope Cruz, 2007: Cruz achieves the perfect seductive look with dark hair, deep eyes and scene-stealing red lips.

penelope cruz

Zhang Ziyi, 2011: The Chinese film star chose a punchier shade of red to complement her porcelain skin tone.

zhang ziyi

Jennifer Lopez, 2011: The megastar pulled out all the stops at the Met Gala with her dramatic all-red ensemble. Of course, matching deep red lips accompanied the look.

jennifer lopez

Emma Stone, 2012: It's no secret that redheads and red lips are the perfect pair, and Stone wears this look beautifully for a mature yet flirty effect.

emma stone

Solange Knowles, 2012: Beyoncé's little sis offers a unique take on the usually sexy lip look. She cleverly pairs her lips with intricate patterns.

solange knowles

Taylor Swift, 2012: The girlish singer always makes sure to exude sophistication on the red carpet with her signature red lips.

taylor swift

Rihanna, 2013: We all know this feisty performer can pull off literally any crazy fashion trend, but we prefer her looking glamorous with a classic red lip.


Dita Von Teese, 2013: The queen of gothic glam is almost never seen without deep red lipstick to complete her look.

dita von teese

Scarlett Johansson, 2013: ScarJo looks stunning in bright red lipstick whether she's a brunette, blonde or redhead.

scarlett johansson

Gwen Stefani, 2013: The rocker mom's bright red lips (and winged liner) always adds a feminine touch to her tomboy-inspired style.

gwen stefani

Rita Ora, 2014: Ora can do no wrong with beauty when wearing fire-engine red lipstick with her bleach blonde hair.

rita ora

Lupita Nyong'o, 2015: The Oscar-winning actress always manages to sport the right shades of red lipstick that complement her gorgeous complexion.

lupita nyongo

Margot Robbie, 2015: The Australian star's shiny, blonde mane and matte red lips scream movie siren.

margot robbie

Kerry Washington, 2015: Oozing classic glamour, Washington's high-sheen red lips add a pop of color to her outfit.

kerry washington

Before You Go

Lipstick Meant You Were A Prostitute?

Nine Things You Didn't Know About Lipstick

Do you have info to share with HuffPost reporters? Here’s how.

Go to Homepage

MORE IN Style & Beauty