Sometimes it’s wise to splurge on a few expensive, high-quality items—a nice leather or denim jacket, for example—that will stay classic from season to season, year to year. Lipstick is not one of those things.
Lipstick is like shoes. What does “enough” lipstick even look like? Lipstick is such an easy and fun way to change the mood of a look with just a swipe of color.
It can be tempting not to grab at least one or two or three or more tubes of the stuff on a beauty store run, even if they aren’t technically “necessities.”
But if you have expensive taste, just one or two or three sticks at $30 each can add up fast. For girls on a budget, it just doesn’t make sense to spend $30 on one lipstick and wear the same shade day in and day out when as many as 10 lipsticks can be had for the same price.
With that said, let’s get started. Here’s a list of the 10 best drugstore lipsticks and their reviews for 2021.
Table of Contents
A drugstore makeup essential since 2011, Soft Matte Lip Cream from NYX feels like a combination of lipstick and gloss. It goes on smooth, lightweight, and creamy like a gloss, but with the strong pigmentation of a lipstick.
The cream has a slightly glossy sheen when first applied, but settles into matte when fully dried, or after about 30 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, this long wait time could be a downside, but with some patience, the payoff is worth it.
This liquid lip cream is available in 34 shades, packaged in small round tubes with doe foot applicators. The formula smells faintly like chocolate. Its lip gloss-like consistency is best suited for a natural look—try colors Amsterdam, Abu Dhabi, or Stockholm for an effortlessly pretty lip.
The colors don’t always go on as they appear on the tube though, so try to swatch these in the store if you can, but at such a cheap price these are worth the risk of trial and error.
Although this is called a matte lip cream, these lipsticks are not quite a true matte, as they still have a bit of a sheen to them after they dry. However, they’re still a lot more matte than most of the standard lipsticks out there; they’re comparable to the crème finish lipstick in REVLON’s Super Lustrous line.
Make sure to hydrate your lips with a good lip balm before wearing these, as the color doesn’t glide as evenly on chapped lips. On properly moisturized lips, this lipstick goes on smooth and creamy.
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream is not a long-wearing lipstick, but still lasts longer than most other lipsticks in its price range (around three to five hours.) If you don’t mind reapplying a few times throughout the day, the natural tones especially make lovely everyday lipsticks.
The variety of other colors available invites experimentation for a night out. If you have yet to try matte liquid lipsticks, this inexpensive lip cream is a great place to start.
It feels like lip gloss, it’s a lot lighter than most liquid lipsticks, and it doesn’t require the commitment to scrub it off at the end of the day that some of the longer-wearing liquid lipsticks do.
This one is hands-down the best liquid lipstick you can get for five dollars—if you know which colors to avoid. The formula is comparable to Jeffree Star’s matte lipstick line but at less than half the price.
Nudist Peach and Video Vixen in particular tend to streak really bad and start to flake after a couple hours for whatever reason, but colors like Rebel Rose are too beautiful to be ignored.
The Catsuit lipsticks come in very standard-looking clear plastic tubes, about what you would expect for five dollars. The formula feels smooth, creamy and light like a gloss, but it does not need to be layered on at all.
Just one swipe with the doe foot applicator is all you need; the lipstick goes on glossy and dries to a highly pigmented matte. These are not scented, although there is a slight chemical lipstick formula smell that fades away right after it’s applied.
If you wear them with a bit of lip balm underneath and avoid oily foods, expect the better colors of these liquid lipsticks to last around four to six hours. It’s not exactly hydrating, but not drying for a matte liquid lipstick either.
Just be aware that these aren’t totally waterproof or transfer-proof. You are liable to leave smooch marks on your beau when wearing this formula.
Of the 13 available colors, Rebel Rose, Give me Mocha, Missy and Fierce, Flame of the Game, and Nice to Fuschia consistently go on streak-free and hold up the best through the day.
Rebel Rose is an absolute must-have shade. The rest of the colors are a gamble, but potentially a worthwhile one at just five dollars each. They are also very easily findable at most drugstores.
Rimmel Provocalips combines the staying power of a matte liquid lipstick with the plumping shine of a gloss. It comes in a double-ended tube with a glossy top coat on one end (similar to our number one pick, REVLON Colorstay Overtime below.)
The formula is very creamy and easy to apply with the doe foot applicator. It takes about two minutes to dry, and with continued application of the topcoat you get moisturized, vibrant lips for up to 16 hours.
Just be aware that it stays best on bare lips: follow the instructions on the packaging and apply color, wait two minutes for it to dry, then apply the glossy topcoat with no lip balm underneath or on top.
As the kiss-marks embellishing the lids of this lipstick’s cases suggest, this lipstick is kiss-proof, smudge-proof, and transfer-proof. There’s a nice palette of 14 flirty pinks, mauves, and reds to choose from. Provocalips is easy to find in stores as most drugstores carry a wide selection of Rimmel products.
What you see on the color of the tube is very close to what you actually get with these color-wise, so it’s pretty safe to just pick colors at the store without checking swatches first.
For a classic, intense blue-based red, try Play with Fire; Berry Seductive is a flirty warm red-based pink. All of the colors have a nice color payoff, with very rich, deeply colored pigments.
Quick tip: when you’re letting the gloss top coat dry, try not to let your lips stick together. This can cause the formula to peel. As long as you let it set for a couple minutes before putting your lips together, the gloss seals in the formula and protects your lips from the drying effect of the lipstick.
As with all long-wearing lipsticks, Rimmel Provocalips can be hard to remove at the end of the day, so make sure to use a lipstick eraser or oil-based makeup remover to take it off.
Coconut oil makeup remover works particularly well for this. Makeup remover designed for eye makeup also works well.
At three dollars each, these are the most affordable lipsticks on this list. Their price point and easy to apply twist-up crayon cases make e.l.f. Matte Lip Color lipsticks ideal for makeup beginners or for girls just starting to incorporate lipstick into their makeup routine.
The crayon is convenient to throw in your purse without worrying about liquid lipstick leakage. If you normally only wear a lip balm, these will feel familiar: the best way to describe these is that they feel like super thick, deeply pigmented lip balms.
With the twist-up case, these lip pencils should never need to be sharpened, but there is a little sharpener built into the case lid in case of emergency (i.e. you drop the pencil and it breaks).
The pencil is quite long so it lasts a while. Each application lasts around three to six hours, and the balmy formula goes on nice and smooth. It contains waxes enriched with vitamins A, C, and E to help moisturize the lips.
The result is a vibrant matte finish that lasts around three to six hours before needing a touch-up.
Just one layer adds a touch of pigment; build up a few layers for the most color payoff. This lipstick is not drying, even with additional layers.
Praline is a perfect brownish-pink that looks universally good on just about anybody. Tea Rose is another pinkish shade with more of a mauve tone and makes a lovely nude lipstick.
For the price, these lipsticks are great for testing out different colors to see how they match your skin tone before buying a more expensive brand.
There are 13 different colors to try, and all 13 of them can be had for the price of one expensive lipstick so it’s worth trying them all. They’re easy to find at Target, on the e.l.f website, or on Amazon.
This one is a no-brainer for this list because honestly, you just can’t beat that price.
The formula glides on creamy and soft and leaves a dewy finish on the lips. It applies smoothly and evenly. Considering that this is a moisturizing lipstick, the staying power is above average at around five to six hours of wear.
It’s enriched with vitamins A, C, and E for extra hydration, so each application feels soft and pampering.
Rimmel added ten colors to this product line in 2014 for a total of 34 colors, so there is a large selection of shades to try.
Most of the colors are pigmented enough to get away with just one layer, but some of the pinkish shades require a couple coats to build up the color.
The pigments tend to go on vibrant, fading to YLBB (Your Lips But Better) after a few hours. Even after the lipstick fades, it leaves a lightly pigmented stain for the rest of the day.
This moisturizing lipstick is excellent for the winter months when dryness tends to be a problem. It’s also a great date night lipstick, as it’s comfortable, easy to remove, and is available in so many different colors.
Lipsticks that don’t necessarily last a long time are actually great for experimenting with different colors on a night out. You never know—maybe you’ll find another perfect shade worth committing to buying as an everyday long-wear lipstick.
These long-wearing mattes make a nice everyday lip color. They dry down to a matte opaque finish, which makes them perfect for normal wear. The color lasts around four to six hours, which is not bad at all for a moisturizing formula.
Color Sensational Matte Lipstick does not suffer from the over-drying problem shared by most matte lipsticks.
The formula is hydrating and comfortable: no dryness or cracking halfway through the day. It glides on very easily and the formula feels luxurious and creamy.
The 10 available colors are highly pigmented and bold. The color applies evenly and wears evenly; it remains on the lips as a stain when it wears off, which is nice for everyday wear.
The colors pictured on the bottom of the tube are very close to what the actual lipstick pigment looks like, so you can pick colors with confidence in the store. Tangy Tulip is a peachy orange color subtle enough to wear to work.
For olive tone skin, try Touch of Spice for a pretty natural pink. All 10 of the colors in this line are really nice; the only true downside of this lipstick is that there are only 10.
This is a more traditional lipstick than the other two REVLON products in this list. Super Lustrous comes in a classic, black and gold twist-up case. The most breathtaking thing about this lipstick is that there are over 90 colors available.
No, that’s not a typo. Over 90 colors. It also comes in four different finishes: sheer, pearl, crème, and matte. Think of the different finishes like a spectrum, with sheer at the shiniest, glossiest end, matte at the most opaque, and pearl and crème in between the two.
This lipstick glides on evenly with no streaks or uneven patches. The vitamin-infused formula feels silky smooth. The vibrant, rich color payoff of this lipstick is the same across all of the colors and finishes (or at least the ones this blogger has tried—there are too many out there to try them all.)
With so many colors and finishes to choose from, it might be a good idea to check out some swatches to get a feel for which ones to try before buying. With so many options available, there’s truly a lipstick in this line for every skin tone.
This lipstick is not as long-wearing as the 16-hour bulletproof lipsticks on this list, but it does its job. It will stay on for around three to five hours before needing to be refreshed. However, it’s very transfer proof and resists smudging. Don’t expect to be able to eat a greasy meal with burgers and fries wearing this one though.
When this lipstick does inevitably wear off, it leaves a nice, even stain. Busy girls who sometimes forget to touch up their lipstick will appreciate that this one leaves a pleasant touch of pigment on the lips hours after it fades.
REVLON has done it again with this formula. The classic case, silky smooth formula, and bold femme fatale colors of this lipstick make it feel more luxurious than a drugstore lipstick.
The SuperStay Matte Ink line promises up to 16 hours of wear, and it certainly delivers—it’s not unusual for these lipsticks to stay put through a night of sleep and still look freshly applied in the morning.
Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink lipsticks come in compact square tubes with a teardrop-shaped applicator. The formula has a subtle sugary smell, like vanilla or sugar cookies.
The vibrant colors on the tubes are very representative of what these lip colors look like on the lips. Even though there is only a small collection of colors available for now, what you see on the tube is what you get with these.
SuperStay Matte Ink is a great choice for the low-maintenance girl: it’s quick and easy to apply and lasts throughout a busy day without needing a touch-up.
Just a couple short swipes with the teardrop applicator is all you need for full matte coverage—any more than that tends to make the formula glob on a little too thickly. It’s normal for this lipstick to feel a little sticky right after application, but the feeling wears off after it dries (which takes about five minutes.)
If worn over protective lip balm, as all matte lipsticks should be, this lipstick is not cracking or drying at all and holds up through three meals and beyond.
It might even stay on a little too well, as it can be hard to remove at the end of the day. If vigorously scrubbing off this lipstick with soap at the end of the day sounds unappealing, Maybelline also offers a lip color eraser to alleviate the removal process.
The long-lasting vibrancy of the saturated matte pinks, statement purples, classic reds, and nudes in the SuperStay Matte Ink line put this lipstick near the top of this list. It’s an essential drugstore lipstick staple for everyday wear.
Most drugstore lipsticks in this price range tend to be at least a little drying, so it’s refreshing to find a lipstick that actually does just the opposite.
These come in pretty little twist-up lipstick cases. Don’t be alarmed by the bright colors of the plastic cases, the actual lipstick pigments are not as neon orange and pink as the cases would lead you to believe.
A see-through clear plastic peephole on the top of the lid shows the true color of the lipstick.
The formula feels wonderful to apply. It truly glides on like butter and has a light cocoa scent. It doesn’t feel sticky like some of the other lipsticks on this list do before they dry. This isn’t a matte lipstick; it has a glossy finish with a little bit of shimmer like a lip gloss.
Depending on how often you eat and drink, the lipstick tends to stay vibrant for around three to five hours before needing a touch-up. It leaves a bit of a tinted stain on the lips after it fades.
If you’re used to more long-wearing lipsticks, three to five hours may not seem like a long time, but the butter feels so pampering on the lips that applying it several times during the day is hardly a nuisance.
This lipstick is more pigmented than tinted lip balms but has less color payoff than a typical lipstick. The colors are bright, but not garishly so.
They sit at the sweet spot somewhere between oh-my-god neon and barely there. For a natural brown-nude soft glossy lip, try the color Fig Jam. If you prefer bolder color, the pigment is buildable with additional layers of product; it also works nicely combined with a lip stain if you so choose.
Since the formula is hydrating, it won’t dry out your lips like other lipsticks would after a couple layers.
REVLON Colorburst Lip Butter would make the top of this list if it was easier to find in stores. Unfortunately, the product has been discontinued and is only available for purchase on Amazon.
If you don’t want to order online, REVLON’s Colorburst Matte Balm is another moisturizing lip color worth trying … if you can find it.
Again, you might also be hard-pressed to find this one in stores, as few retailers carry it. Definitely pick up one of these if you happen to come across one at your local store.
Lipsticks that last a long time and also aren’t drying are hard to find, so finding a drugstore lipstick that meets those criteria would seem like a miracle. This one is it: the holy grail.
There are 25 beautiful, highly pigmented colors of this lipstick available, from nude to vampy and everything in between. The color payoff is excellent, most of all because you are in control of how bright you want the color to look. You can build it up for extra pop with more layers or tone it down by dabbing just a little bit of the color on.
These liquid lipsticks are packaged in long, double-ended tubes with the color on one end and a gloss on the other. The two-in-one convenience is really nice if you tend to carry around a lot of various items in your purse.
The gloss goes over the lipstick and adds a layer of protection to the color; it needs to be reapplied every few hours for the full effect.
For a matte look, you can forgo the gloss (although the gloss is the secret to keeping the matte formula from drying out your lips—it’s enriched with hydrating chamomile and soy extract).
The lip color is a bit sticky if you wear it on its own, but it’s nothing a bit of lip balm on top can’t fix.
Colorstay Overtime holds fast for a full eight-hour workday at least, and up to 16 hours or more. You can eat, drink, kiss, accidentally wipe your face, fall asleep wearing it and this stuff stays put without transferring.
You can eat a burger and this lipstick won’t budge, seriously. Just make sure to use a lip color eraser or makeup remover to take it off to avoid hurting your lips from too much scrubbing—it’s stubborn stuff.
Unlike the previously mentioned REVLON Colorburst Lip Butter, Colorstay Overtime is easily findable at most department stores and drugstores.
It’s a bargain for its price: it’s long-lasting, transfer-proof, and comes packaged with a moisturizing gloss that makes it non-drying as well.
Drugstore Lipstick Buyer’s Guide
What makes a good drugstore lipstick? The 10 lipsticks below are comparable to their more expensive competitors in all of these criteria:
- Hydration. Chapped and dried lips are a common downside of cheap lipsticks. This is especially a problem for matte lipsticks. A good drugstore lipstick won’t dry out the lips when worn with a hydrating lip balm. The ideal lipstick hydrates and adds color at the same time. Look for lipsticks with vitamin E, different types of natural butter, beeswax, or hydrating oils like coconut oil in the formula ingredients.
- Color selection. A good drugstore lipstick is available in a wide variety of colors that complement a diverse variety of skin tones. A variety of different “nude” colors is a sign of a good lipstick palette.
- Staying power. Having to constantly mirror-check and re-apply lipstick every hour is a nuisance. All of the lipsticks on this list can stay put for at least three hours to upwards of 16 or more.
- Transfer resistance. Lipstick should stay on your lips, not on your clothes, your coffee cup, or your beau. The best drugstore lipsticks don’t transfer lip marks to anything after drying.
- Opacity. These are lipsticks, not lip glosses. A good lipstick is versatile: it should only need one application to achieve full vibrancy, but can also be dabbed on for a sheer look.
- Texture. Creamy lipsticks apply evenly and are effortless and enjoyable to put on. The formula shouldn’t feel heavy, tacky, or plastic-y.
- Scent. A pleasant smell in a lipstick is a lovely added bonus, but a strong and unpleasant one can ruin an otherwise great lipstick.
- Packaging. A nice lipstick case is easy to carry everywhere you go without coming apart in your purse. Square cases are also a bonus, as they won’t roll off your counter during your makeup routine. Lipstick applicators are important for liquid lipsticks and should lend themselves to easy, precise application.
- Availability. One of the main appeals of drugstore lipstick, besides its price point, is that many of the same products are sold in several different drugstores and department stores. No matter where you are, you can be sure that you won’t be without your usual drugstore lipstick.
- Value. How well does the lipstick perform in all of the above criteria for the price?
We hope you’ve enjoyed this review of the 10 best drugstore lipsticks for 2021. See one that’s not on the list and should be? Let us know in the comments below.