It's amazing how the right lipstick shade can instantly boost your confidence. But if you're going to rock the perfect red lip, you need a lipstick that feels comfortable on your lips and wears as long as you want. With so many finishes, colors, and lipstick types to choose from, it's tough to know which one will work best for you.
Whether you're looking for the ideal nude or a bold red lipstick, check out our buying guide to learn all you need to find the right lipstick for your makeup bag. Our top pick is from NARS, which offers a rich, creamy texture and a variety of finishes to suit any occasion.
Considerations when choosing lipsticks
When you're shopping for lipstick, you can choose from two main types:
Traditional bullet lipsticks come in a tube that you twist up to reveal the product. You apply the lipstick directly to your lips from the tube, so there's no need for any applicator. They're usually somewhat hydrating but can easily transfer from your lips to other surfaces. You can find traditional lipsticks in a wide range of finishes, including matte and glossy.
Liquid lipsticks have a thin liquid-like consistency, so they come in a tube-like lipgloss. They usually have a doe-foot applicator that you use to paint the lipstick onto your lips. Many liquid lipsticks have a matte finish and can be somewhat drying, but they offer longer wear time than traditional lipsticks and don't transfer as easily to other surfaces.
You can find lipsticks in a wide array of finishes or formulas. The finish affects not only how the lipstick looks on your lips, but how it feels, too.
Sheer lipsticks provide just a hint of color and may impart some shine to the lips. They're usually fairly hydrating, too, so they're comfortable to wear.
Gloss lipsticks usually offer more color than sheer formulas and add significant shine to the lips. They're usually moisturizing and comfortable on the lips but don't last as long as other finishes.
Cream lipsticks are usually the most common and fall somewhere between a glossy and matte formula. They're usually fairly pigmented and highly moisturizing due to their high oil concentration. They typically give the lips a slight sheen, too.
Matte lipsticks don't provide any shine or sheen, so they have a flat finish on the lips. They're usually intensely pigmented and can last a long time on the lips. They can be fairly drying, though, and are somewhat difficult to remove at the end of the day.
Metallic lipsticks have a frost-like finish on the lips, so they have a great deal of shimmer. Some metallic lipsticks even feature glitter particles to really reflect the light. They're usually highly pigmented but are more hydrating than matte lipsticks.
Lipsticks are available in every color of the rainbow -- and every shade in between. These days, it's not uncommon to find off-beat shades like black or metallic blue even in drugstore lipstick ranges. Choosing a lipstick shade is entirely a matter of personal preference, and in most cases, you'll want to have a few different shades so you have options. A bold red and a soft nude that flatter your skin tone are shades that most people want in their makeup bag, but you may want to include pink, mauve, and berry shades that work with your coloring, too.
If you want your lipstick to last all day without any touch-ups, opt for a long-wearing formula. In most cases, that means a liquid lipstick, but you can find some traditional lipsticks with a matte finish that last for eight hours or more. Longwear lipsticks can be drying, though, so be sure to moisturize your lips after wearing one.
You can find plenty of lipsticks for under $20 that offer high quality and a variety of colors to choose from. However, if you're interested in lipstick from a luxury cosmetics brand that provides intense pigmentation, extremely long wear time, and a comfortable feel on the lips, expect to pay between $20 and $50.
Q. How long does a lipstick last?
A. Like all cosmetic products, lipsticks can go bad over time. Many makeup brands include a small symbol on their packaging that indicates how long a product is usually good for. With lipsticks, you can typically expect them to stay fresh for two to three years. If you notice that the texture or smell of a lipstick is off, it's likely gone bad.
Q. How can I make lipstick last longer on my lips?
A. Make sure to start with exfoliated and moisturized lips to help the color adhere better. You can use a lip primer, which helps prep your lips for lipstick application by providing a smooth, even canvas. Choose a lip liner in a shade that matches your lipstick to fill in your lips before applying a layer of lipstick. Use a tissue to blot your lipstick and then apply a second layer before blotting a final time to lock the color in place.
Lipsticks we recommend
Best of the best: NARS Lipstick
Our take: A luxurious, creamy formula that provides rich, bold color and a comfortable feeling on the lips that users love.
What we like: Formula is enriched with vitamins and can help lips look plumper. Available in satin, shimmer, metallic, and matte options. Only requires a small amount of the product to achieve full color, so a tube can last a long time.
What we dislike: Some users don't enjoy the scent.
Best bang for your buck: bareminerals Gen Nude Radiant Lipstick
Our take: A high-quality lipstick that provides high-end performance at a fraction of the price of luxury lipsticks.
What we like: Available in 20 shades with a satin finish. Has a hydrating feel that's similar to that of a lip balm. Has soft pigmentation that provides a subtle look that's ideal if you prefer natural makeup.
What we dislike: Doesn't offer bold, dramatic colors.
Choice 3: Stila Stay-All-Day Liquid Lipstick
Our take: Provides all-day wear that doesn't require any touch-ups and is available in a wide range of colors.
What we like: Comes in satin, shimmer, and matte finishes. Provides some hydration as soon as you apply it but still lasts all day. Includes natural moisturizers like vitamin E and avocado oil. Doesn't transfer or bleed outside your lip line. Doesn't contain any dyes.
What we dislike: Some users find the applicator difficult to use.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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