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In the time of Kylie Jenner's cult-favorite lip kits, liquid lipstick is king and for good reason. More pigmented than your traditional lipstick and longer-lasting than most stains, liquid lipstick is the gift that keeps on giving. With a color range more impressive than a wall of paint chips, there’s a shade for every occasion and every skin tone. If you’re looking for a product that won’t budge no matter how many kale chips (or chocolate chip cookies) you shovel into your mouth, liquid lipstick is the way to go. But the only liquid lipsticks that we're concerned with (today at least) are the budget-friendly ones—those lipsticks that deliver opaque color and long-lasting staying power without the high price tag.
So without further ado, here are the best liquid lipsticks of the drugstore bunch.
Best Overall: Maybelline New York Superstay 24 2-Step Liquid Lipstick
Available in 24 super-saturated shades, you’ll have your pick of everything from pinky nude to a bright cherry red. Infused with micro-flex technology, this formula promises not to flake, cake or dry out. Apply with the doe-foot applicator for all-day comfortable wear.
It’s not flat like a matte, but it’s also not shiny like a gloss. The finish is somewhere in between and appears to look freshly applied all day. This stain is so serious that you may find yourself with it on long after you still want to wear it. In that case, an oil-based makeup remover will do the trick. Gently scrub at it either with a lip brush or a tissue and it’ll come right off.
Best Matte: Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor
Reviewers love the creamy yet matte consistency of this drugstore liquid lipstick and say the formula hardly needs to be touched up throughout the day. Available in 16 high-definition shades, you can find one (or more!) for every mood and occasion.
Pro tip: If you’re worried about drying out your pout, apply an ultra-moisturizing lip balm over top. Then, blot it with a tissue so that it won’t mess with the flat matte finish of the lipstick.
Best Red: NYX Professional Makeup Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick
The creamy formula feels like suede as the name suggests and dries down to a pretty velvet matte. It’s waterproof yet moisturizing, plus it's laced with ingredients like avocado oil and vitamin E.
Kitten Heels is the perfect combo of blue and orange undertones, so it will flatter most skin tones. Another bonus: It will also make teeth appear brighter and whiter. Concentrate the rich pigment on the center of your pout and blot outwards for an ombre like effect.
Best Nude: e.l.f. Cosmetics Liquid Matte Lipstick
The right nude is hard to come by, but we just made things easier with this lippie from e.l.f. Cosmetics. It has a pinkish cast to it so it’s like your lips, only better.
To make it really look like your own lips (only more polished), dab the matte cream lipstick on with your finger. Simply remove the wand from the tube and dip your finger into the formula before pressing it onto lips.
Best Metallic: wet n wild Megalast Liquid Catsuit Metallic Lipstick
A little sparkle goes a long way and can actually make lips seem fuller and plumper. For an extra wow-factor, look for a lipstick that really shines. Metallic lipsticks are super hot right now and they’re even more fun when they have an almost “is it or isn’t it?” metallic quality to them.
Rather than looking like your pout is coated in glitter, the metallic sheen in this liquid lipstick creates a multi-dimensional appearance. The pigments change depending on the lighting—in daylight, you can see more of a shimmer, but otherwise, it just looks like a lovely lipstick with a subtle reflection.
Best Transfer-Resistant: L'Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Last Lipcolor
One of the biggest reasons women don’t wear lipstick is because of how messy it can be. You accidentally touch your face and all of a sudden your shirt sleeve is covered in rouge, then it gets all over your face, etc. For this reason and so that you can eat, kiss and do everything else freely, a transfer-proof lipstick formula is clutch.
This dual-ended version features a high-intensity lip color and a color-seal lip balm. Swipe on the color first and then follow with the balm to lock in the pigment for up to 24-hour wear. You can re-apply the balm throughout the day for extra moisture.
Best High-Shine: Milani Cosmetics Amore Shine Liquid Lip Color
Most liquid lipsticks have a matte finish, but if you’re partial to more of a sheen, you’re going to love this. One stroke delivers full coverage pigments and a glossy reflection without the sticky feel that some glosses can leave you with. The formula is also infused with collagen microspheres and can help keep your pout looking plump over time. The brand recommends applying a thin layer to the center of your bottom lip and then gently pressing lips together. Finish by filling in the cupid’s bow with the pointed applicator tip.
What to Look For in a Liquid Lipstick
When it comes to shopping for liquid lipstick, Urban Decay’s Global Makeup Artist Steve Kassajikian says to first and foremost make sure the product has a formula that will fulfill your needs. “The formula will determine how the liquid lipstick applies, feels, sets, and whether it lasts, so having a good formula is key,” he says. If you’re not able to test before purchasing, make sure you thoroughly read the description and customer reviews.
A formula's wear is another important feature to keep in mind with liquid lipstick. “The main purpose of a liquid lipstick is longevity, so you want one that will wear all day to avoid constant touch-ups,” says Kassajikian. As you may know, constantly reapplying liquid lipstick can result in a clumpy finish, so the longer it stays in tact, the better.
Finally, Kassajikian considers the comfort of the formula another factor to keep in mind. Because some liquid lipsticks can be very drying and uncomfortable, he recommends finding one that hydrates and moves with the lip to prevent cracking and clumping. Of course, today's formulas have come a long way since the initial liquid lipstick boom, so rest assured, comfortable formulas do exist.
Meet the Expert
Steve Kassajikian is Urban Decay’s Global Makeup Artist.