The Red Effect

The color red is often associated with energy, dominance, power, and sexual attraction. No wonder then that red lips have been fascinating women (and men) for centuries.

Cleopatra used a deeply pigmented colorant made from thousands of crushed beetles to redden her lips as a symbol of her power. Queen Elizabeth I made her lips red because she believed the color would ward off evil spirits. Queen Elizabeth II commissioned a custom shade of deep crimson, blended to precisely match the ceremonial royal robe she wore during her coronation.

And today, red lipstick is the signature accessory of a long list of powerful and beautiful women, like Madonna, Rihanna, Amal Alamuddin-Clooney.

Every woman knows that she can always count on her favorite red lipstick to feel confident, beautiful, and sensual, even on the worst day.

The color red has “a kind of psychological power—one that appears to be out of our conscious awareness,” says Dr. Vinita Metha in an article published by Psychology Today. We call the way this color can influence our feelings, emotions, and physical status the ‘red effect.’


Numerous studies show that being exposed or wearing red boosts our physical energy levels, excites us, and inspires us to take action.

Here are some of the physical effects observed on students exposed to red before or during a task:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Faster metabolism
  • Increased heart rate
  • Higher respiration rate

All these physiological reactions cause energy levels to spike and prepare the body for action and movement.


Research has shown that wearing red during competition conveys a sense of dominance and improves the chances of winning.

Two studies prove it:

  • In the same article, Dr. Metha discusses an experiment. When participants to a physical contest were asked to imagine competing against individuals of the same sex wearing red, the opponents’ dominance and threat were perceived as higher. Conversely, when the participants imagined wearing red themselves, the perception of their own dominance increased.
  • According to a study published on Nature, in the 2004 Olympics, competitors in boxing,
    Greco-Roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling, and taekwondo were randomly assigned red or blue clothing. In all four competitions, those who wore red won more fights than those who wore blue.


Red draws and commands attention. It makes people feel more confident, and it’s a clear symbol of power.

This association may come from the fact that red also signals alertness, danger, and aggressiveness. And since power has been a male-dominated domain for very long, this should not come as a surprise. The traditional, patriarchal way of ruling is through fear and
aggressiveness, after all!

Red conveying power is probably behind the choice of the red tie worn by businessmen and politics across the globe. But it can also be used to women’s advantage. By wearing a red
power dress or suit, women can capture everyone’s eye and emanates a halo of power too.

Sexual Attraction

Red is often associated with health. Highly oxygenated blood is a sign of cardiac-respiratory health. And looking healthier also makes us look more attractive. That’s maybe why people who show redness in their faces are usually considered more attractive.

But the color red also stimulates sexual and physical appetite, therefore influencing our perception of attractiveness per se.

In another study, titled Romantic red: Red enhances men’s attraction to women, researchers
showed heterosexual men images of women wearing a red and a blue shirt and asked them to rate their attractiveness. Not surprisingly, men rated women in red as more attractive and sexually desirable. But what IS surprising instead is that they rated the same woman more attractive in the image where she was wearing red and less attractive in the image where she was wearing blue. This means that red really has a great influence on our sexual response!

And it doesn’t stop here. During a study, carried out at Manchester University, it was found that cis men spend the first 10 seconds staring at women’s lips before moving on other parts of the body. They spend even more time on the lips if the woman in question wears red lipstick. That’s just science backing up what we already knew – red lips are magnetic and have the power to hypnotize and seduce.

How to use the ‘red effect’ to your advantage?

Wear a glossy red lipstick to perfection, and you will capture everyone’s eye, inspire power and provoke excitement. Remember, though – you’re the mistress of this game. You’re not using your beauty and sensuality to catch a partner but to influence and seduce in and outside of the bedroom.

So, fear nothing and unleash the power of RED!

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