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If there’s one makeup product where you’re guaranteed to find an excellent formula at the drugstore, it’s lipgloss. The humble gloss has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years (blame it on Euphoria, Bella Hadid, or the entire Y2K revival), but fortunately, our favorite budget brands are keeping up, releasing a stack of brilliant formulas without the luxury price tag.
What’s even better is they’re nothing like the greasy, gloopy glosses of our youth. Instead, today’s versions are light, creamy, and hydrating—not to mention the fastest way to dial up a makeup look.
So in celebration of this fun makeup product, we’re rounding up a dozen of the very best drugstore lip glosses below—ideal for all skin tones, makeup aesthetics, and skill levels.
Meet the Expert
- Michael Brown is one of Australia’s leading celebrity makeup artists and experts and has worked on countless photoshoots, campaigns, red carpet looks, and magazine covers throughout his 20-year career. Michael has also held Australian ambassador roles for global brands, including St Tropez, Marc Jacobs, Moroccanoil, Ardell Lashes, and Olay.
- Geoffrey Rodriguez is a celebrity makeup artist who’s worked with Blake Lively, Emma Watson, and Padma Lakshmi.
Keep scrolling to shop the best drugstore lip glosses.
Best Overall: NYX Professional Makeup Butter Gloss
Who else recommends it? Who What Wear, Elite Daily, and StyleCraze all picked the NYX Professional Makeup Butter Gloss.
What do buyers say? 87% of 71,300+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
“This is one of my favorite budget lip formulas,” Brown tells us. “It’s creamy, hydrating, and has a beautiful glossy finish. The shade range is also epic!”
The ‘Butter’ naming is spot on, too—the formula just glides over the lips, leaving them soft, plump, and shiny.
Coverage Level: Sheer to medium | Finish: Glossy | Shades: 31 | Size: 0.3 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Budget: Essence Extreme Shine Volume Lipgloss
Available in 14 shades, this cheap and cheerful gloss from Essence really can’t be beaten in terms of price. It is shiny, so could potentially stick or transfer, but such is the nature of makeup. Overall, we think it’s a drugstore winner.
Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Glossy, shimmer | Shades: 14 | Size: 0.2 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Clear: e.l.f. Cosmetics Lip Lacquer
Contains vitamin E
Can feel sticky
It can be tricky to find a clear gloss that’s not gloopy, but this one lives up to the hype. The formula itself is also rich in vitamin E, so it does come with some hydrating properties to avoid the lips drying out. And if you want a tint, there are six additional shades in the lineup.
Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Glossy | Shades: 7 | Size: 0.08 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Dry Lips: Maybelline New York Lip Lifter Gloss with Hyaluronic Acid
This viral gloss from Maybelline is seriously great value for money. It comes with hyaluronic acid for a plump lip look, plus a large flocked applicator for easy swiping. The Clear shade is great for a ‘90s finish, but the tinted iterations are also worth trying. Brown also rates Lifter Gloss, dubbing it one of the “best drugstore formulas out there.”
Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Glossy | Shades: 15 | Size: 0.2 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Long-Wear: Revlon Colorstay Overtime Lip Color
Great color payoff
Can feel drying
If you want a gloss that doesn’t budge, Revlon’s Colorstay Overtime Lip Color is unmatched. You swipe on the tinted side first and let it dry down before painting on the clear topcoat. The tint grabs the lips (so there’s no feathering or smudging), while the gloss can be topped up throughout the day to minimize any cracking.
Coverage Level: Opaque | Finish: Matte on its own, glossy with the topcoat | Shades: 30 | Size: 0.07 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Plumping Formula: Makeup Revolution Pout Bomb Plumping Lip Gloss
Could irritate sensitive skin
What’s great about these glosses from Makeup Revolution is their volumizing effect. They slightly tingle when applied, giving your lips an inflated finish. While the results are subtle, it’s noticeable. Pair it with liner for a pillowy effect sans needles.
Coverage Level: Sheer to medium | Finish: Glossy | Shades: 7 | Size: 0.15 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Hydration: Neutrogena Lip Gloss Hydro Boost Hydrating Lip Shine
Contains vitamin E and hyaluronic acid
Layers well over lipstick
Great color payoff
Can feel sticky
Neutrogena’s gloss comes with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E for comfort, making them a top choice for dry lips. Color-wise, it’s quite pigmented, so it can be easily worn alone or layered on top of lipstick for added impact.
Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Glossy | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.12 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Pigment: L'Oréal Paris Rouge Signature Matte Lip Stain
Great color payoff
“These glosses are nourishing and lightweight but still impart a mirror-like shine, so they’re great for all-day wear,” says Brown. “Once the gloss itself subsides, they also leave a soft stain,'' he adds.
We also love the level of pigment—call on these next time you want a bold look without using lipstick.
Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Glossy | Shades: 12 | Size: 0.21 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Tube: PYT Beauty Dew Me Lip Gloss
Packaging made with recycled materials
Narrow shade range
PYT’s Beauty Dew Me Lip Glosses remind us of the Juicy Tubes we carried around in our teenage years but with an updated ingredients profile. Not only do these deliver the ultimate ‘90s sheen, but the formula also contains avocado oil, hyaluronic acid, coconut oil, and acai berry seed oil for nourishment.
Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Glossy | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.52 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Oil: ULTA Juice Infused Lip Oil
Color payoff could be better
Packed with good-for-skin ingredients like squalane, cranberry seed oil, and jojoba oil, these oils from Ulta are part gloss, part nourishing treatment. As for the color payoff, it’s super subtle—think of them as a natural lip enhancer rather than a tint.
Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Glossy | Shades: 6 | Size: 0.15 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Tint: ColourPop Lux Nourishing Lip Oil
Nourishing and comfortable to wear, these tinted oils from ColourPop are the ultimate everyday lip product. Rich in chamomile, calendula, and shea butter, the formula delivers just a touch of color for a natural result.
Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Glossy | Shades: 7 | Size: 0.11 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Shine: Rimmel Stay Glossy Lipgloss
Color payoff could be better
Rimmel’s top-rated gloss has stood the test of time, so it’s no wonder we’re including it in this roundup. Available in 12 wearable shades, the formula is lightweight but ultra-shiny, giving the lips a plump, mirrored look.
Coverage Level: Sheer to medium | Finish: Glossy | Shades: 10 | Size: 0.18 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Cream: Milani Keep It Full Lip Plumper
Can feel sticky
Shiny polymers, hyaluronic acid, and a minty-fresh fragrance come together to create the ideal fresh, minty lip gloss. While the shade range is tight, the available hues do a great job at leaving the lips full, plush, and saturated with color.
Coverage Level: Sheer to medium | Finish: Glossy, shimmer | Shades: 5 | Size: 0.13 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
While every lip gloss formula stands out for its own special reason, we really can’t go past the NYX Professional Makeup Butter Gloss for the price, shade range, and amazing texture. Maybelline New York's Lip Lifter Gloss also gets a special mention for its hydrating properties, while the PYT Beauty Dew Me Lip Gloss is the ideal nostalgic tube with a stellar formula to match.
What to Look For in a Drugstore Lip Gloss
“A good lip gloss should glide over the lips effortlessly and make your lips feel luxurious and hydrated without being too sticky,” says Rodriguez. Creamier lip glosses tend to feel the least sticky, but you’ll be sacrificing shine. It’s all about finding the right balance that feels and looks right for you.
Lip gloss can be sheer or highly pigmented, and the choice is up to you. Clear lip glosses can provide sheen and moisture, helping to refresh your lipstick, stain, or bare lips. Subtle pigmentation can provide some color to boost your look, while deeper pigments can give you that almost-lipstick look with less fuss.
Need more than just shine? Nowadays, lip glosses are infused with various ingredients that do everything from hydrate to plump to repair. Some glosses offer UV protection and antioxidants as well. Just be sure you’re choosing the right one for your specific needs.
Is lip gloss bad for you?
Some lip glosses may contain harmful ingredients that are not ideal for leaving on your lips, such as chromium, lead, aluminum, and cadmium. Look for products without these metals.
What is the purpose of lip gloss?
Lip gloss is typically used to create a glossy sheen on the lips, sometimes with sparkle or shimmer. Often lip gloss is pigmented to provide a pop of color as well.
Does lip gloss damage lips?
Certain types of lip gloss may do damage to your skin, drying it out and leading to cracks. Plumping ingredients can sometimes irritate and lead to chapped lips. Some ingredients such as menthol, salicylic acid, cinnamic aldehyde, and peppermint oils can be drying, especially if you do not stay hydrated.
Why Trust Byrdie
For this roundup, Emily Algar consulted a makeup artist and expert to share the best formulas on the market. We also checked on internet reviews and tested a bunch of front-runners to ensure you’re getting the best of the best.
These 11 drugstore lip glosses look just like my favorite expensive ones. Who What Wear. https://www.whowhatwear.com/best-drugstore-lip-glosses/slide2
The best drugstore lip glosses. Elite Daily. https://www.elitedaily.com/style/best-drugstore-lip-glosses
13 best drugstore lip glosses of 2022 for that gorgeous pout. StyleCraze. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/best-drugstore-lip-gloss
Tran A, Pratt M, DeKoven J. Acute allergic contact dermatitis of the lips from peppermint oil in a lip balm: Dermatitis. 2010;21(2):111-115.