Even if you’re the most minimal makeup-wearer of all time, we’re willing to bet there are at least a few lipsticks kicking around your vanity somewhere. A good lipstick is one of those makeup staples with truly transformative powers; a quick swipe is the easiest way to look polished and put-together. But finding the right lipstick (or lipsticks, as it were) can be tough.
Of course, there’s the color to consider. (When in doubt, a nude, a red, and a pink can make for a well-rounded lipstick wardrobe.) Then there’s the formula—do you want sheer and shiny or pigmented and matte? And do you prefer a traditional bullet or perhaps a liquid lacquer? We took all of these factors into consideration when researching the best options on the market, and ahead, we're sharing our top picks.
Charlotte Tilbury K.i.s.s.i.n.g. Lipstick
Wears comfortably on the lips
Feels rich and nourishing
Some shades can vary in terms of pigmentation
This standout checks all of our lipstick boxes and then some. Lusciously creamy, it feels weightless on lips, though it still packs plenty of rich color (credit a unique blend of waxes). The formula also has a special complex helping to protect your pout from UV damage and light-diffusing particles that create a gorgeous, satin-like finish. Plus, it layers beautifully, whether you top it with gloss for extra sheen or apply it over a balm for even more hydration.
Price at time of publish: $37
Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Satin | Shades: 10 | Size: 0.12 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Overall, Runner-Up
Merit Signature Lip Lightweight Lipstick
Unique shade range
Comfortable on the lips
Not the most long-wearing
Merit totally nailed it with this range of lipsticks. In addition to the gorgeous shade range that features neutrals and pops of colors with truly unique undertones, the formula is fantastic. It's creamy and buildable without looking or feeling heavy on the lips, and it creates a subtle satin finish that looks really sophisticated. The formula contains squalane, sunflower seed and raspberry oils to nourish the lips, too. The only thing that would make this formula even better is if it was a bit more long-lasting.
Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Satin | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.10 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Satin Lipstick
No bleeding or feathering
Vast shade range
Could be more long-lasting
Wallet-friendly price aside, this is just an all-around foolproof, traditional lipstick. The formula is made with 75 percent nourishing and hydrating ingredients (think argan and sesame seed oils). The colors are rich and saturated and stay put without typically bleeding or feathering. Speaking of, there are 52 shades to choose from, helpfully divided across four color families. Given the low price tag, you can easily try out a whole bunch.
Price at time of publish: $8.95
Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Satin | Shades: 52 | Size: 0.13 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Maybelline New York SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick
Lasts all day and night
Wide shade range
Wand makes precise application easy
Can be a little drying
We’ve sung the praises of this standout time and time again and will continue to do so because it is just that freaking good. It may provide up to 16 hours of wear, and, in our experience, it does indeed live up to that impressive claim. Once it sets—about 15 seconds after application—it is set and won’t budge no matter what you eat or drink (or who you smooch). Despite the matte finish, it doesn’t feel drying and comes in a wide array of over 40 hues. But FYI, you will definitely need a dedicated makeup remover when it does come time to take it off.
Price at time of publish: $10.99
Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Matte | Shades: 40 | Size: 0.17 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Long-Lasting, Runner-Up
Beauty Bakerie Matte Lip Whip
Easy to apply
Goes on smoothly and evenly
Inclusive color range
Lasts all day without smudging, crusting, or flaking
Can be hard to remove
This is the product that put this once under-the-radar brand on the map. Do a quick search on social media and prepare to be astounded by the countless viral videos showcasing its staying power, even under full-on running water. It's waterproof, smudge-proof, and seriously long-lasting but doesn't tend to look (or feel) dry or cakey, no matter how long you wear it.
Price at time of publish: $20
Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Matte | Shades: 26 | Size: 0.12 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
“Beauty Bakerie’s Lip Whip is perfect for those who want a bold color that lasts all day long. After setting, the product leaves a high-impact finish that's so solid, you won't need to reapply.” — Nicole Kliest, Product Tester
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick
Easy to apply
Shape of lipstick helps define lips
Unlike the other Charlotte Tilbury option on this list, this one features a matte finish. Still, because the formula contains unique 3D glow pigments, the colors still have plenty of dimension and don't make the lips appear flat or dry. Bonus points for the uniquely shaped bullet, which features an angled tip that mimics the shape of a lip brush for perfectly precise application.
Price at time of publish: $34
Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Matte | Shades: 19 | Size: 0.12 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"The formula glides easily over the lips, and you can wear a lip liner if you want, yet the shape of the lipstick bullet helps to define the lips and accentuate contour just like lipliners do." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester
Best Matte, Runner-Up
Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick
Creamy, emollient feel
Dries to a matte finish
Not too drying
Shades can vary in terms of pigmentation
This lipstick achieves that often-impossible balance in a matte formula: offering hydration and a creamy feeling with legitimately matte, opaque color. Credit a blend of polymers that help the formula stay comfortable and flexible, plus a powder film encapsulating the pigments for complete matte coverage. And we’d be remiss not to mention the ridiculously cool packaging.
Price at time of publish: $39
Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Matte | Shades: 28 | Size: 0.14 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Fenty Beauty Slip Shine Sheer Shiny Lipstick
Can cling to texture on lips
This lipstick is an excellent choice for those who like the reflective finish you get from a gloss but don’t love the tacky texture. It offers the prettiest wash of subtle color with a shiny finish that looks natural, never garish. A pomegranate butter base locks in plenty of moisture, and we also appreciate that there’s a great lineup of shades to flatter a wide range of skin tones.
Price at time of publish: $24
Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Glossy | Shades: 10 | Size: 0.1 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Shade Range
Makeup By Mario Ultra Suede Lipstick
Shade range is extremely diverse
Can feel slightly drying
Finding a nude lipstick that flatters your skin tone can be really tricky, which is why we love this range so much—there are tons of options that vary in depth and undertone to cater to a wide range of consumers. Plus, there are fun colors, like rich reds, berries, and pinks, so everyone will be able to find a color they're excited about. The formula is a highly pigmented matte that provides a smooth, bold finish. It wears for hours on end, and while it can feel a bit drying, it layers really nicely on top of lip balm, making this pretty much a non-issue.
Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Matte | Shades: 20 | Size: 0.14 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Lisa Eldridge True Velvet Lip Colour
Beautiful shade range
True matte finish
Can cling to dry patches
If you're looking for a lipstick that really packs a punch in terms of pigmentation, we highly recommend this formula from Lisa Eldridge. It has a true velvet matte finish (it even looks like real velvet in the bullet) that glides across the lips to create a wash of full-coverage, rich color. One swipe will provide fully opaque coverage, but you can also dab a bit of the color onto your lips and blend it out with your fingertips for a more subtle, blurred effect. The shade range is also stunning, as it features tons of neutrals, rosy colors, and deep browns to flatter a wide variety of skin tones.
While the formula is pretty comfortable on the lips compared to other mattes on the market, it has the tendency to cling to dry patches, so we recommend exfoliating your lips before applying this formula.
Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Velvet matte | Shades: 22 | Size: 0.12 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Chanel Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Luminous Matte Lip Colour
Comfortable matte finish
Unique shade range
Comfortable on the lips
There's something about a high-end lipstick that feels like a little slice of luxury—and we love this one. It creates a matte finish on the lips that manages to never look flat or dry, and it feels almost completely weightless once applied. The shade range is also super diverse and fun—we're taking neutrals, berries, and even electric pinks and oranges. Plus, the packaging is just as weighted and chic as you would expect it to be from the brand. If you're in market to splurge, this is a fantastic choice.
Coverage Level: Medium to full | Finish: Soft matte | Shades: 20 | Size: 0.12 oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Overall, Charlotte Tilbury’s K.I.S.S.I.N.G. Lipstick can’t be beaten–it’s lusciously creamy yet weightless, plus it’ll protect your pout from UV damage. For a more wallet-friendly option, L’Oréal’s Colour Riche Satin Lipstick is intensely nourishing while delivering rich pigment payoff. For wear that’s virtually indestructible, Maybelline New York’s SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick stays put for an impressive 16 hours, regardless of eating, drinking, and smooching.
What to Look For in a Lipstick
The first thing to consider when it comes to lipstick is the color. No matter your skin tone or shade, there's a flattering lipstick color out there for you. Nudes of all shades are very multipurpose since they look great for nights out but are also totally suitable for work or more casual occasions.
Some shades are more complementary for cool, warm, or neutral undertones. Blue or purple hues are ideal for cool skin tones, red or orange for warm, and neutral tones are the lucky ones that can go either way.
Depending on your preferred look or feel, you might want a lipstick that is more creamy, satiny, glossy, or matte. Your skin type and personal needs come into play when choosing a lipstick formula as well. Many offer bonus effects such as plumping, UV protection, or hydration. Ingredients that are more on the natural side and boost your lip skin are a nice perk, as well, such as shea and cocoa butter, coconut oil, botanicals, and antioxidants.
If you crave a hydrating formula, we recommend the Fenty Beauty Slip Shine Sheer Shiny Lipstick. If you prefer more color payoff with a matte finish, go for the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick or the Makeup By Mario Ultra Suede Lipstick.
Lipsticks come in a wide variety of consistencies. You can choose from the classic stick, liquid, or cream pot, for instance. Among those, there are several types to choose from that can provide a more wet or shimmery look—or dryer ones that stay in place longer. Consider how you like to apply lipstick when choosing the consistency, as some are better applied using a brush while others are easier to swipe and go.
What is nude lipstick?
Nude lipstick is a tone that is similar to the wearer's skin color. This applies to all skin tones. It's best not to choose a nude lipstick that is the exact same as your skin tone, so your lips don't disappear. Too dark or too light can also look off. Consider whether you have cool, warm, or neutral undertones when choosing a nude shade. Add a little bit of color and warmth with pink or rose tones if you're fairer. Choose mauve, caramel, or beige for darker skin tones.
Which lipstick is best for daily use?
Daily use lipstick should be in a shade that is easy to transition between work and play. You should also consider the formula and choose one that offers additional benefits to your skin, such as moisturizing and UV protection.
How We Researched & Tested
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like formula, finish, shade range, comfort—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. Our team also incorporated their own personal experiences testing products in their own lives. We then used these insights to compile this list of the best lipsticks on the market.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. To create this list, she researched the best-selling lipsticks of all time and tapped Byrdie editors and contributors for their tried-and-tested favorites.
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