I tried Taylor Swift’s favorite ‘kiss-proof’ red lipstick, and here’s my honest review

Whether she’s belting out her greatest hits onstage or out on the town with boyfriend Travis Kelce, Taylor Swift’s rarely spotted without her signature scarlet lipstick.

And thanks to her red-hot romance with the Kansas City Chiefs tight end, fans have become more curious about the pop superstar’s shade of choice than ever before; after all, it somehow stayed perfectly in place as Swift planted kisses on Kelce after his team’s big Super Bowl win.

While Swift’s glam squad is famously tight-lipped (pun intended) about her makeup must-haves, the 14-time Grammy winner’s name-checked a number of her preferred formulas over the years, from MAC Ruby Woo ($23) to Nars Dragon Girl ($30) — but lately, she’s been all about the crimson shades from Pat McGrath Labs.

Why Taylor Swift loves Pat McGrath’s lipsticks

Swift and Kelce sealed the Chiefs’ Super Bowl 2024 win with a kiss — and the pop phenom’s lip color didn’t budge a bit.  Getty Images

Swift first teamed up with McGrath in 2017, when the makeup maestro created a glittery red lip for her “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” music video. She went on to wear a full face of Pat McGrath Labs products on the VMAs red carpet ahead of her “Midnights” album announcement, including the brand’s perpetually-sold-out LiquiLust: Legendary Wear Matte Lipstick in Elson 4 ($34).

While that liquid formula’s since become one of Swift’s favorites, McGrath has also confirmed the singer’s a major fan of her MatteTrance Lipstick in Elson ($39), the traditional bullet version of the exact same blue-red shade.

McGrath’s called Elson “the perfect cool-toned shade” — and luckily for Swifties, the color was recently restocked after many months of being sold out.

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Elson
Pat McGrath Labs

The “Cruel Summer” songstress took the pair’s collaboration to the next level while filming her music video for “Bejeweled,” enlisting McGrath to not only do her makeup for the entire shoot, but also make an on-screen appearance.

“We had such a fabulous time creating the looks for ‘Bejeweled’ — Taylor is such a visionary and thinks about all the details,” the makeup whiz told Page Six Style at the time. “When she mentioned that she wanted to make a video just for the fans who like shimmer, I knew this was going to be magical.”

It’s even rumored that McGrath’s products are to thank to Swift’s Eras Tour beauty looks, which have managed to survive sweat, torrential downpours and the performer’s three-hour setlist.

Taylor Swift attends the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 28, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey.
Swift wore a full face of Pat McGrath Labs products on the VMAs 2022 red carpet, including the liquid version of Pat McGrath’s Elson lipstick. FilmMagic

It’s no surprise that Swift would gravitate toward McGrath’s particular brand of makeup magic; the British icon, like the pop star, has earned spots on the Time 100 Most Influential People list in the past, and Vogue’s called her “the most influential makeup artist in the world.”

McGrath’s also been creating dreamy runway beauty looks for houses like Dior, Alexander McQueen and Valentino for decades, not to mention helped develop makeup for brands like CoverGirl, Max Factor, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci before launching her namesake cosmetics company in 2015.

Taylor Swift performs onstage during the "Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour" at Foro Sol on August 24, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico.
Rumor has it Swift wears McGrath’s makeup on tour, too. Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

Performers like the pop phenom surely appreciate the intense pigmentation and long-lasting nature of McGrath’s products — as do makeup mavens of all kinds, who’ve left over 500 five-star reviews for her MatteTrance Lipstick on Sephora.

“Pat McGrath lipsticks do no wrong,” one fan of the formula raved, adding, “Her quality is second to none.”

“Gorgeous application, stays put and goes on looking exactly as advertised!” another wrote, while a third gushed, “This lipstick is so pigmented and the color is just dense on the lips. Really gorgeous.”

Our review

The author wearing Pat McGrath red lipstick
I loved the lipstick’s formula and feel. Page Six

As Page Six’s resident Swiftie who also happens to share the superstar’s red lip obsession, I couldn’t wait to give her favorite shade a go. While McGrath swears by applying lipstick using your finger instead of straight from the tube, I preferred the precision of the latter, making use of the tip of the bullet to get the edges just right.

I was immediately impressed by the product’s color payoff; a single swipe delivered the full, perfectly opaque coverage I look for in a lipstick, and the true red hue is guaranteed to look gorgeous on a wide variety of complexions. Also, fun fact: Blue-based red lipsticks like Elson make your teeth look whiter!

Where this formula really sings for me, however, is the feel: surprisingly creamy and comfortable for a matte. I’ve tried pretty much all of Swift’s other favorite red lipsticks — including the similarly blue-based (and beloved) MAC Ruby Woo ($23), which I recently wore for my TS-themed birthday party. While beautiful, however, Ruby Woo can be a bit drying; I typically need to prep my pout with a balm beforehand.

Nars Dragon Girl ($30), meanwhile, is a gorgeous shade — so much so that I wore it on my wedding day — but it requires regular sharpening, and the product has an unfortunate habit of sliding out of the pencil itself.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift wore entirely Pat McGrath Labs makeup in her “Bejeweled” video. Taylor Swift/VEVO

McGrath’s offering, on the other hand, requires no upkeep, goes on silky smooth and truly feels like you’ve got nothing on your lips. That’s only a detriment if you happen to absentmindedly rub your mouth during the day — it will smear, and you may wind up looking like Lady Gaga on her “Applause” album cover.

This brings me back to the question on every Swiftie’s mind: How does she make her red lip kiss-proof? Applied solo, MatteTrance in Elson packs incredible staying power, but it’s not immune to smudges and leaving marks on drinking glasses, as I discovered during my testing.

However! Swift did share a pro tip with Allure in 2011 for turning lipstick “into a stain that lasts much longer,” saying: “There are tricks I’ve learned from makeup artists on shoots. They put on the red lipstick, then blot it with a tissue, then they put powder over the tissue and sort of press it onto your lips.”

The author wearing Pat McGrath red lipstick
Can confirm Swift’s trick works! Kissed the back of my hand (and my husband) afterward, and experienced practically zero color transfer. Page Six

I decided to try the trick myself, blotting and powdering my pout before planting a kiss on (1) the back of my hand and (2) my husband, who was happy to volunteer his services for the sake of journalism. Swift’s hack helped my lipstick pass both tests with flying colors — and practically zero color transfer.


  • Incredible color payoff
  • True red hue will flatter many skin tones
  • Lightweight feel
  • Long-wearing


  • Expensive
  • Not transfer-proof — but try Swift’s trick to help it stay put!

The final verdict

The author wearing Pat McGrath red lipstick
A quick blot and press of powder makes this stuff perfectly kiss-proof — here I am post-smooch. Page Six

Here’s the truth from my red lips: With sincere apologies to the many, many other crimson options in my lipstick wardrobe, I think I’ve found my new go-to hue.

Elson is that elusive true red that’s sure to look good on every skin tone, and the velvety, long-wearing formula is packed with pigment and surprisingly comfortable for a matte. And while it’s not inherently transfer-proof, Swift’s recommended blot-and-powder tip works wonders.

I may have to snag an extra tube before it sells out again!

How we tested

Taylor Swift kisses Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce after an AFC Championship NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, in Baltimore.
My husband and I re-created one of Kelce and Swift’s viral post-game kisses to put McGrath’s lipstick through its paces. AP

I consider myself a red lip connoisseur on par with Swift — and while it doesn’t take as long to test color cosmetics compared to, say, skincare, I’ve got high standards when it comes to lipstick and thus went into this review with a few key factors in mind:

  • Pigmentation: What’s the product’s color payoff like? Does it require more than a single swipe for full coverage?
  • Comfort: In my experience, cream and satin lipsticks are more comfortable to wear than matte ones — but sometimes, certain formulas (like McGrath’s) surprise you!
  • Longevity: How long does the color stay intact over the course of a typical day? Is reapplication necessary after drinking, eating and hours of talking?
  • Kissability: Seeing as everyone started talking about this particular lipstick after marveling at how it didn’t wind up all over Travis Kelce’s face, I had to see if it could survive my own smooch session.

Shop more Swift-worthy red lipstick shades from Pat McGrath Labs below:

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Vendetta

In your “Reputation (Taylor’s Version)” era? Try this dark, moody red.

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Obsessed

This bright orange red would look smashing on warmer skin tones.

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Guinevere

This “blooded crimson” color, as McGrath calls it, is as deep and rich as Swift’s songwriting.

Pat McGrath Labs SatinAllure Lipstick in Crimson Ecstasy

Prefer a dewier-looking pout? Try the brand’s SatinAllure formula in this universally flattering bright scarlet red.

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Rouge 8

The crimson tube of this limited-edition version of McGrath’s mid-tone brick red lipstick is too beautiful to pass up.