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Last-Minute Red Lipstick for Valentine's Day: A Guide

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Surprise: It's Valentine's Day, and red lips are a no-brainer for an easy, last-minute upgrade to your date outfit. But there are some basic rules to consider, like making sure to underplay the eyes when going for a bold red, or considering the lighting of where you'll be when choosing a color. And while finding that perfect shade of red is a matter of trial and error, choosing the texture can be first step toward getting the mouth you want.

For starters: Lipstick formulas are about the mixture of hydration and pigment. The more pigment in the lipstick, the less hydrating the formula typically is, and vice versa. So this is a good place to start: Whatever your shade, here's how to create five different moods with five different red lipstick textures.

A frost lipstick has a sheen and a metallic feel to it, giving the red a bit of a shimmery tone which can come across as less deep than a matte, and less shiny than a gloss. Sometimes, it's not as hydrating as cream lipsticks, but it's a great choice when going for a bit of subtlety (with a twist!) when choosing a red. Our pick: Revlon Moon Drops in China Glaze Red, $7.19. Available here.

A sheer lip is a hydrated lip, because this type of lipstick is basically a lip gloss put into stick form. If you want a hint of a red with the lightness of a gloss, all in lipstick form, then a sheer red is for you. Plus, it'll be super hydrating. Try NARS Sheer lipstick in Flamenco, $24, here.

Okay, it's obvious what a gloss is, but some formulas are easier to build on than others. Glosses are highly pigmented, so they can range from sheer to bright, but all have a moist formula. For a gloss that feels like butter on your lips—without the gloppiness—try this one by Giorgio Armani,: the Lip Shimmer, $26.

For a lipstick with a matte finish and pigment, though without too much drying out, try a semi-matte formula. This is perfect when you want a bold red though with less maintenance. Try the NARS Lipstick in Red Lizard, $24, right here.

A matte lipstick is very pigmented without any sheen, so it's simply the color you see in the tube. Matte lipsticks deliver a super charge of color, so beware: it can (and probably will) end up everywhere. If you're up for the challenge, try a MAC lipstick, in the classic Mac Red, $14.50, which you can pick up right here.

This formula is the balance of pigment and moisture, full of color but sure to keep your smacker feeling rich and lush. Our vote: YSL's Rouge Pur Couture with SPF 15, $30, available here.

And then: Chanel Rouge Allure Laque in Dragon, $32, here: The one that stands alone. This one seems to not have a true category—it's a gloss, but it's also a lipstick formula. Meaning, it's doesn't have the sheer lightness of a gloss, but it's more like lipstick melted into a tube which you apply with a wand. Get it? It's highly-pigmented, very rich, and will give you the most dramatic effect you could possibly find.—Rebecca Suhrawardi

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