Behold: The 15 Best Lipsticks of All Time

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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 bathroom 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? You have to consider the price tag, too, since these days there are plenty of incredible options for every budget.

So to make the lipstick shopping process less stressful and more fun—it is lipstick, after all—we rounded up the best lipsticks out there.

Best Overall: Charlotte Tilbury K.i.s.s.i.n.g. Lipstick

4.5
Charlotte Tilbury

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Pigmented

  • Wears comfortably on the lips

  • Feels rich and nourishing

  • Pretty packaging

What We Don't Like
  • Some shades can vary

Who else recommends it? Allure also picked Charlotte Tilbury K.i.s.s.i.n.g. Lipstick. 

What do buyers say? 78% of 500+ Nordstrom reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

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, too, whether you top it with gloss for extra sheen or layer it over a balm for even more hydration.

Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Satin | Shades: 10 | Size: 0.12 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore: L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lipcolor

L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lipcolor
What We Like
  • Moisturizes lips

  • No bleeding or feathering

  • Wide shade range

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Coverage Level: Light | Finish: Satin | Shades: 52 | Size: 0.13 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Runner-Up, Best Drugstore: Revlon Balm Stain

4.8
revlon balm stain

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Hydrating formula

  • Wears comfortably on the lips

  • Buildable without flaking

What We Don't Like
  • Not a wide shade range

While not your classic lipstick bullet, this chubby crayon is one of our favorites. A trio of shea, mango, and coconut butter make the formula lusciously moisturizing, and the color has the staying power of a stain, yet is still buildable and supernatural. Plus, a retractable tip means you never have to worry about finding a sharpener.

Coverage Level: Light | Finish: Matte | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.7 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Long-Lasting: Maybelline New York SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick

4.8
Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink Lip Color

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Lasts all day and night

  • Wide shade range

  • Wand makes precise application easy

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Matte | Shades: 40 | Size: 0.17 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Runner-Up, Best Long-Lasting: Beauty Bakerie Matte Lip Whip

4.5
Beauty Bakerie Matte Lip Whip
What We Like
  • Easy to apply

  • Goes on smoothly and evenly

  • Inclusive color range

  • Lasts all day without smudging, crusting, or flaking

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Matte | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.12 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | 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

Best Matte: Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick

4.8
Matte Revolution Lipstick in The Queen
What We Like
  • Long-wearing formula

  • Easy to apply

  • Shape of lipstick helps define lips

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly fragranced

Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue reaches for this lippie time and time again. Unlike the other Charlotte Tilbury option on this list, this one boasts a matte finish. Still, because the formula contains unique 3D glow pigments, the colors still have plenty of dimension and may make lips appear fuller and plumper. Speaking of, there are 19 wearable colors in the lineup—though you can’t go wrong with Pillow Talk, a bestselling, universally flattering nude pink. Bonus points for the uniquely shaped bullet, which features an angled tip that mimics the shape of a lip brush for perfectly precise application. 

Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Matte | Shades: 19 | Size: 0.12 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

charlotte tilbury matte revolution lipstick

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca 

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

Runner-Up, Best Matte: Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick

4.9
Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Vendetta

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Creamy, emollient feel

  • Dries to a matte finish

  • Not too drying

What We Don't Like
  • Shades can vary

Here’s another go-to for Xue, and also a tremendous matte pick. It 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.

Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Matte | Shades: 28 | Size: 0.14 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Shiny: Fenty Beauty Slip Shine Sheer Shiny Lipstick

Fenty Beauty Slip Shine Sheer Shiny Lipstick
What We Like
  • High-gloss finish

  • Unique shades

  • Not sticky

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Glossy | Shades: 10 | Size: 0.1 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Metallic: UOMA Beauty Black Magic Metallic Shine Lipstick

UOMA Beauty Black Magic Metallic Shine Lipstick
What We Like
  • High-shine finish

  • Bold shades

  • Nice packaging

What We Don't Like
  • Only a few shades

There are plenty of matte and shimmer options out there, but finding a great metallic lipstick can be challenging. Happily, this one may fit the bill. The six shades pack tons of color and serious glimmer with full-on metallic flecks (which look especially great in photos, FYI). They’re an excellent choice for anyone who wants more of a bold and impactful look or just those who want to have some fun with their lipstick.

Coverage Level: Light | Finish: Metallic | Shades: 6 | Size: 0.12 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Pigmented: Kevyn Aucoin Beauty Unforgettable Lipstick

kevyn aucoin lipstick
What We Like
  • Pigmented

  • Won't transfer, smudge, or flake

  • Comes in multiple finishes

What We Don't Like
  • Not a wide shade range

"I have yet to find a lipstick that's more pigmented, luxuriously packaged, or long-lasting," says Byrdie Associate Editor Holly Rhue, who is just one of many fans of this formula. "It's creamy, doesn't budge, and comes in matte or shiny iterations," she adds. (There are also cream shades that fall somewhere in the middle.) No matter which of the 13 hues you choose, all colors are super saturated, offering complete color payoff with just one coat.

Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Matte, cream, shine | Shades: 13 | Size: 0.07 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Sheer: W3ll People Nudist Lip Butter

Nudist Lip Butter
What We Like
  • SPF 15

  • Moisturizing formula

  • Byrdie Clean

What We Don't Like
  • Not a wide shade range

Though you could make the case that this is more of a tinted balm than a lipstick, we think it delivers enough color to fall into the latter category. That being said, it is indeed a sheer flush of color, enough to pop but still subtle enough that you can swipe it on without having to look in a mirror. And per its balm-like qualities, it’s also next-level hydrating, full of natural oils and butter, and even SPF 15, too.

Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Satin | Shades: 4 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Natural: Kosas Weightless Lip Color Lipstick

Kosas Weightless Lip Color Lipstick
What We Like
  • Hydrating, nourishing formula

  • Rich shades

  • Pigmented

What We Don't Like
  • Product can break

The fact of the matter is that you inevitably end up ingesting any products that you put on your lips, making this one category where opting for clean formulas may feel even more important. Enter this option, free of a litany of questionable chemicals and instead full of botanical oils and butter that both pack plenty of moisture and offer antioxidant protection for your pout. It’s one of Byrdie Senior Editor Lindsey Metrus's faves, available in a comprehensive (though not overwhelming) lineup of eight shades.

Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Satin | Shades: 52 | Size: 0.14 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Shade Range: NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream

4
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Wide shade range

  • Velvety texture

  • Smoothes lips

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more long-lasting

Yes, a great nude, pink, and red can make for a totally complete lipstick wardrobe. That being said, if you want to stock up on multiple options of each (and then some), you likely won’t be disappointed by the extensive amount of colors that this formula comes in. There are plenty of options among those three color families, as well as deep berry tones plus more out-of-the-box hues like purple and beige. The formula is excellent, too, creamy and cushiony but with a legit matte finish.

Coverage Level: Light to medium | Finish: Matte | Shades: 21 | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Budget: e.l.f. SRSLY Satin Lipstick

e.l.f. SRSLY Satin Lipstick
What We Like
  • Applies smoothly

  • Vegan

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Not a wide shade range

Even though this rings in at just $3 (yes, you read that correctly), you’d never know that this wasn’t some super-fancy designer lipstick. It packs plenty of rich color in every swipe, with both a silky-smooth look and feel. Also nice: It’s vegan and cruelty-free, too.

Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Satin | Shades: 8 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Splurge: Guerlain Rouge G Customizable Lipstick

Guerlain Rouge G Customizable Lipstick
What We Like
  • Vibrant shades

  • Comes in 3 finishes

  • Chic packaging

What We Don't Like
  • On the sheer side

If anything, this lipstick list should make it clear that you really don’t have to spend lots of money on great lipstick. But if you want to invest in or treat yourself to an especially luxe option, this is the way to go. Choose your color first. (There’s a long list of shades to pick from, in both matte and satin finishes.) Then choose your case. That’s right; this comes in a refillable metal case that even has a built-in mirror that's perfect for on-the-go application. Fancy with a capital F.

Coverage Level: Light | Finish: Satin, matte, shine | Shades: 38 | Size: 0.12 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Final Verdict

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

Color

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 suitable for the workplace.

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.

Formula

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.

Consistency

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.

Price Tag

Consider your budget when choosing your product. Although some splurging is always nice, there's no need to break the bank for quality lipstick. It might be worth it to spend on a lipstick that offers additional skin-boosting benefits such as UV protection or anti-aging properties. If you want to try out a new shade but don't want to spend a ton of money, outstanding affordable options are available.

FAQ
  • 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.

  • Is lipstick bad for your lips?

    Some lipstick ingredients can be harmful to your skin, drying it out and leading to damage. Others may contain levels of toxins that are not ideal for leaving on your lips, such as chromium, lead, aluminum, and cadmium. Look for products without these metals.

  • 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.

  • Which shade of lipstick is right for me?

    While any shade that makes you happy and feel good is right for you, many lipstick wearers like to coordinate with their skin tones. Lighter skin tones can go for a paler shade, while deeper tones can choose a richer hue. You can select lipstick based on your undertones, too—warm, cool, or neutral.

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 ingredients, shade range, or design—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 from our research and testing to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

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.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  2. Lin T-K, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects of topical application of some plant oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70.

  3. Israel MO. Effects of topical and dietary use of shea butter on animals. American Journal of Life Sciences. 2014;2(5):303.

  4. Petruk G, Del Giudice R, Rigano MM, Monti DM. Antioxidants from plants protect against skin photoaging. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2018;2018:1-11.

  5. Arshad H, Mehmood MZ, Shah MH, Abbasi AM. Evaluation of heavy metals in cosmetic products and their health risk assessment. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal. 2020;28(7):779-790.

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