Confession time: As a rule, I detest lipstick. As fun as it is to play with different colors—whether it's a gorgeous berry stain, a brown-tinged '90s throwback moment or even Rihanna-inspired green—the hassle of most formulas just isn't worth the escapism to me. I hate that I can't take a sip of coffee or eat a snack without worrying about finding smudges across my face or on my teeth; I hate the constant need for reapplication; I hate that most matte formulas (and many creamy ones) are horribly drying on my pout. I could go on and on, and it's for these reasons that I stick with just a swipe or two of nude-colored lip liner most days.
My standards may be somewhat ridiculous, but they're not impossible. The select few lipsticks that do meet my criteria are nothing short of stellar, IMO—and to be sure, I consulted with my fellow Byrdie editors as well as some other beauty-savvy (and equally picky) friends. Keep reading for the formulas that even lipstick-averse folks can get behind.
We're fans of all of Ilia's ultra-creamy, all-natural lip formulas, but it was love at first swipe with the brand's tinted lip conditioners in particular. Concocted with a vegetable oil blend and natural dyes, this balm-like formula leaves behind an ultra-flattering tinge of color that layers beautifully if you're aiming for a more saturated look. Plus, because the color is so sheer, it actually looks great when it's smeared ever-so-slightly—in an ultra-pretty undone kind of way.
Lipstick Queen has turned seemingly off-putting colors into something of an art form, but the real magic is in how flattering the moisturizing tints are after application. Take Hello Sailor, for example, which morphs into the most flattering stain of berry after you swipe it on. (Other color-changing recs include the teeth-whitening Butterfly Ball, $24, as well as the green-to-pink Frog Prince Lip Gloss, $25.)
Leave it to makeup goddess Charlotte Tilbury to craft one of the best traditional lipstick formulas out there, which you'll undoubtedly find—in multiples—in every Byrdie editor's bag. "It's creamy, but it stays put," notes associate editor Lindsey—basically the holy grail of lipstick descriptors, no?
From the ultra-pretty color range to the second-skin texture, there's a lot to love about Glossier's inaugural lipstick formula—not to mention that it's completely bleed-proof, so you can skip the liner and constant reapplication.
When working with a lipstick that has a sheer color payoff, try layering on different hues for a custom finish.
Not-so-fun fact: Our lips are one of the first areas of our faces to show the effects of aging, and moisturizing lipstick was formulated to combat just that. The non-feathering, satiny finish is just a bonus.
Senior editor Hallie—who insists on a "velvety or matte texture only" when it comes to lip products—swears by Nars's Velvet Matte Lip Pencil for its smooth-to-the-touch veneer. The pencil format makes for foolproof application, too.
Yet another semi-matte tint in our lineup (what can we say, apparently it's a winning genre), Rituel de Fille's Enchanted Lip Sheers are all about head-turning pigment without any unnecessary additives. That means your pout gets an adjustable pop of color and a huge dose of hydration that lasts all day long (even through lunch and snacks, trust us). Speaking from experience, you'll want to collect every hue.
Matte lovers, take note: Urban Decay's offering was specifically crafted to evade that flaky, parched feeling that many products tend to leave behind. In fact, a hydrating blend of avocado and olive oils ensures just the opposite, without sacrificing any durability.