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A swipe of good lipstick can be transformative. The right color lights up a face and is one of the quickest ways to elevate a look. Matte lipstick happens to be one of my favorite ways to wear a lip color—I love the way it can be blurred out at the edges or worn boldly. And depending on the formula, it can just as quickly be worn under a swipe of gloss for a shinier look.
If you’re looking for new matte lipsticks, take a look at our list of favorites below, created with the help of Myiesha Sewell, beauty director at Sephora. We made sure to select options in a variety of formats—including liquid, bullet, and pencil—that also come in multiple shades, because there truly is a matte lipstick for everyone.
Read on for our top picks.
Best Overall: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
Shade Range: 22 | Type: Doe-foot applicator | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
For a matte lip that won’t budge, smear, fade, or feel dry, this lipstick is true to its name and stays all day. It starts as a liquid and quickly dries down to a soft finish that has absolutely zero transfer. Keep a good makeup remover on hand, you’ll need it to wipe this off.
Best Budget: NYX Professional Makeup Soft Matte Lip Cream
Shade Range: 34 | Type: Doe-foot applicator | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
For a similar look with slightly less staying power, the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream is a good option—and it’s way affordable, too. The lip cream has intense pigmentation but feels gentle on lips with its mousse-like texture. It dries down to a weightless finish that still looks bold.
Best Drugstore: Maybelline New York SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick
Shade Range: 41 | Type: Doe-foot applicator | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
This lipstick goes on like a liquid and dries down to a matte finish that can last up to 16 hours. The wide shade range offers light beige pinks to the darkest of reds (there’s a deep blue and total black shade, too!), so all skin tones and shades can find the best match.
Best Long-Wearing: Danessa Myricks Beauty Colorfix Eye, Cheek & Lip Cream Pigment in Alien
Shade Range: 14 | Type: Squeeze tube | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
For a matte lip that can also be used on your eyes and cheeks—and won’t budge for 24 hours—this cream pigment offers a long-wearing look. The range of matte colors is limited, but for deeper skin tones, Sewells likes the Chocolate shade.
Best Feeling: Milk Makeup Lip Color
Shade Range: 9 | Type: Bullet | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Sewell calls this Milk lip color the option for “matte lipstick haters.” “[It’s] softer to the touch, easily blendable lip color stays put but doesn’t fully set,” said Sewell. The formula has nourishing ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and mango seed butter to keep lips smooth and moisturized.
Best Shade Range: Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick
Shade Range: 79 | Type: Doe-foot applicator | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
With nearly 80 matte colors to choose from, the Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick offers one of the broadest shade ranges we’ve seen. The formula applies like a liquid and dries down to an opaque, long-wearing matte lip. Sewell is partial to Always Red if you’re having a hard time choosing a shade.
Best for Dark Skin: Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Flesh 3
Shade Range: 38 | Type: Bullet | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Sewell recommends this Pat McGrath lipstick in Flesh 3 for deep skin because of its rich tones and bold pigment. The lipstick comes in traditional bullet form and isn’t designed to be as long-wearing as others on this list. But the formula allows for more customization with the color—swipe it on for full, opaque color, or blend it out for a sheer look.
Best for Olive Skin: Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick in Heroine
Shade Range: 41 | Type: Doe-foot applicator | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Warm-toned olive skin really shines with bright, lipstick shades, and the jewel tones of this lipstick in Heroine pair well with this skin color. The long-wearing formula is supersaturated with color and comes with a doe-foot applicator to make it easy to precisely apply the liquid lipstick.
Best for Medium Skin: Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Lost Cherry
Shade Range: 21 | Type: Bullet | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
The bright tones of Lost Cherry really pop on medium skin tones. The formula itself is buildable and long-wearing, with claims it has “3D glow pigments that help lips appear wider and fuller.” The lipstick has orchard extract and a so-called secret ingredient to nourish lips.
Best for Fair Skin: MAC Lipstick in Kinda Sexy
Shade Range: 31 | Type: Bullet | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
The neutral tones in this MAC lipstick will work for many fair skin tones, and the soft pink is natural enough for everyday wear. The creamy formula has high color pay-off and lasts around 10 hours, but if you’re eating, drinking, or kissing, you’ll probably need to reapply.
Best Pencil: NARS Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil
Shade Range: 29 | Type: Pencil | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
The pencil glides on powdery soft, and the formula is buildable, so you can adjust the intensity of the color depending on how much you apply. Apply it at full volume for lush color, or blend out the edges for a just kissed look (for a deep, sexy red I like to wear Cruella). Don’t forget your sharpener.
Best Red: Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Uncensored
Shade Range: 9 | Type: Doe-foot applicator | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
No matter your skin tone, Fenty’s Uncensored has a wonderful chance of working for you. The “perfect universal red” applies as a liquid and dries down to a soft matte finish. It isn’t as long-wearing as other liquid matte lips, but in return, it feels weightless when wearing.
Best Nude: PATRICK TA Major Beauty Headlines Matte Suede Lipstick in Oh She’s Single
Shade Range: 5 | Type: Bullet | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
The neutral nude color fits a wide range of skin tones and is a favorite of Sewell herself. The lipstick itself has optical diffusers in the formula, which help create a blurred, photoshopped look.
The best lipstick for you depends on factors like your skin tone and where you plan to wear it (to a meeting, or on a date?). Our overall pick, Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick, is the favorite for any situation where you don’t want to think about touching up your lip color since it really will stay all day—whether you’re drinking coffee at work or making out on a date. If color options are what you need, Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick (view at Sephora) offers nearly 80 to choose from. But if you know if you want a classic red, look no further than Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Uncensored.
What to Look For in a Matte Lipstick
If not drying out your lips is a high need on your matte lipstick wish list, you'll want to check labels for nourishing ingredients that help with hydration. Cocoa butter and coconut oil are good choices because they can help heal chapped skin.
We all have application methods that we find easier, or more challenging, than others. Fortunately, matte lipsticks are available in formats ranging from liquid stains to dry pencils. The best one for you is the one you work with most easily, and can get the smoothest, cleanest results from. There are many tips and tricks available for how to apply lipstick, and you'll be best served by beginning the process with a format that you know is comfortable in your hands.
Due to not having a gloss factor, matte lipstick is all about the color. Unless you're looking intentionally for a subdued effect, it's important to choose a product that clearly has enough pigment in it to give you the pop one expects from a matte lipstick. Labels that mention 3D glow pigments may give your lips a more full appearance than those that don't, since they offer the benefit of added dimension.
What’s the best way to pick out a good matte lipstick?
“I look for a flexible, forgiving formula because nothing is worse than my lipstick crumbling and cracking throughout the day or when I smile," Sewell says. "It's also important to me to have a super-blendable formula because I often blot on just a touch of liquid lipstick, and I always ombre my lip color."
Is it possible to keep lips looking healthy even under a matte formula?
“Most people only think about their lips when it's time to apply lipstick, and it sucks to realize your lips are dry and cracked only after applying it,” said Sewell. One of her favorite products to keep lips healthy is Glow Recipe's Watermelon Glow Lip Pop ($22), because it tints and hydrates lips.
How do you keep lipstick matte all day?
Even if you choose a matte product, you can end up with unwanted shine-through if you don't follow a few simple steps: exfoliate your lips first, use a lip balm (and be sure to give it time to sink into your skin), and then apply a primer before your matte lipstick. Finish up with a dusting of translucent powder.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Joline Buscemi is a Byrdie contributor and a beauty and wellness writer for many major publications. Her lipstick drawer is overflowing, and she’s tried many of the matte lipsticks in this list.