The Best Drugstore Lipsticks With Incredible Color Payoff

We like the creamy formula and expansive shade range of Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick.

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The Best Drugstore Lipsticks With Incredible Color Payoff
Photo: Amazon/InStyle

It's been said time and time again, but I believe there really is nothing more mood-altering and empowering than applying your favorite lipstick and heading out the door to take on the world. I've rocked many different lipstick shades during my time as a beauty writer, and each shade always makes me feel some type of way.

Unlike some drugstore makeup products that just don't compare to high-end picks, drugstore lipsticks can easily stand up to the big guys, and then some. There are some serious gems found in the drugstore beauty aisles, and we've covered 11 of our favorites below.

While there are so many incredible formulas to choose from, our overall winner was the classic Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick—the formula is creamy, the payoff is always impressive, and the shade range is truly unmatched.

Here are the best drugstore lipsticks that rival their high end counterparts.

Our Picks

Best Overall: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick

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Also available at Ulta and Target

What We Love: It has a creamy formula and vast shade range.

What We Don't Love: The formula isn't long-lasting.

An oldie but goodie, the Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick is a true classic that can't be beat. The creamy, moisturizing formula is absolutely luscious, and never feels tight, dry, or cakey. This lipstick comes in a bullet shape, and glides seamlessly onto the lips with each swipe.

Created using microfine pigments, this lightweight formula is infused with vitamin E and avocado oil for smooth, kissable lips that won't look cakey. Another reason to love the Revlon Super Lustrous Lipsticks are the incredible range of lip colors—the lipstick comes in a whopping 87 shades (in two finishes, cream and pearl) and can fit whichever mood you're in.

"Revlon's Super Lustrous lipsticks are one of my top favorites available at the drugstore because they offer a range of high-impact colors, with a comfortable feel on the lips," explains celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli. "The collection contains 87 shades ranging from nudes to reds, to plums, and is infused with hydrating ingredients, too."

While these lipsticks are widely available at most drugstores, you probably won't find every single shade at each drugstore. Additionally, while we love the creamy formula of these lipsticks, they aren't long-wearing, and won't last as long as some of your liquid lipsticks, for example.

Colors: 87 Shades | Formula: Cream | Cruelty-free: No

Best Longwear: Maybelline Super Stay 24 2-Step Liquid Lipstick Makeup

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Also available at Target and Walmart

What We Love: It's incredibly long-wearing.

What We Don't Love: It might be hard to get it off.

Lovers of longwear swear by this pick from Maybelline—it's a 2-step system that promises to last all day long. Thanks to their proprietary Micro-Flex technology, you won't feel any caking or drying on your lips after application.

That being said, it's important to apply this liquid lipstick the correct way. The product comes with the colored lip product on one end, and then the clear gloss on the other. You first need to apply the liquid lipstick to clean, bare lips, then wait two minutes for the formula to dry down. Afterwards, you apply the balm over the lipstick to seal in moisture. Without the balm, you're going to be left with a sticky feeling from the longwear lipstick. You can reapply the balm throughout the day as needed.

We love that this longwear formula comes in 41 shades, with shimmery and cream finishes. You'll find some bold, bright shades within the mix—some that actually might stain your lips and be difficult to take off. When removing this longwear lipstick, be sure to use an oil-based makeup remover (you might need to scrub a bit if the shade was really bright).

Colors: 41 Shades | Formula: Glossy | Cruelty-free: No

Best Liquid: NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream

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Also available at Ulta and Target

What We Love: It has a creamy formula that isn't cakey.

What We Don't Love: It takes a while for it to dry down to matte finish.

The NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream has become a serious cult-favorite, and for good reason—it's a super comfortable formula that's thick but not liquidy, and dries down to a beautiful matte finish. "The NYX Soft Matte Lip Creme is such a beloved product for so many makeup lovers—this lip creme can honestly do no wrong," explains celebrity makeup artist Armando Kole. "It is a beautifully comfortable matte formula that applies like silk and is lightweight on the lips."

Not only does this formula feel weightless, but we love how infrequently we have to reapply it throughout the day. "It also is incredibly long lasting, but never looks dry or textured no matter how long you wear it," explains Armando. "Also, the shade range has so many possibilities."

With 34 shades (each one named after a global city), the options for playing up your lips are endless. When applying this to your lips, note that it might take a minute or two for the formula to dry down to a matte finish—be patient.

Colors: 34 Shades | Formula: Matte | Cruelty-free: Yes

Best Bullet: Milani Color Statement Lipstick

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Also available at Ulta and Walgreens

What We Love: The texture feels amazing on your lips.

What We Don't Love: The sweet scent.

If you're looking for a punch of pigment that feels amazingly buttery smooth, look no further than the Milani Color Statement Lipstick. We love these bullet lipsticks for their hydrating formula, vibrant colors, and super-sexy packaging, too.

From pinks, reds, oranges, browns, purples and plenty of nudes, the shade range in this line will not disappoint. And even better? The formula in this little magic bullet is truly top notch—infused with nourishing vitamin A and vitamin C, this pick basically acts like a lip balm that also packs a mean pigment, too.

We love the sleek, sexy gold packaging this bullet comes in (it looks so high-end), but we're not the biggest fan of the sugary scent. If you're someone who is very sensitive to scent, you might want to steer clear of this pick.

Colors: 29 Shades | Formula: Cream | Cruelty-free: Yes

Best Matte: L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Lipstick

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Also available at Ulta and Walmart

What We Love: It's very long-lasting and dries down nicely.

What We Don't Love: The formula can get sticky if not applied properly.

Matte liquid lipsticks have taken the beauty world by storm over the last few years, and the L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Lipstick has continued to come out on top. This pick offers intense color and full-coverage without feeling heavy on the lips.

This product comes in 30 beautiful shades, and the formula dries down to a matte finish. It promises to last up to 16 hours, but considering it can be difficult to remove once it has dried down, we think it will last even longer.

One complaint we have is that you'll need to apply the formula in light layers to avoid any stickiness. When applying the L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Lipstick, first apply one layer to your lips, wait a minute for it to dry, then go in and apply a second layer on top. To remove this product, you're going to need to use an oil-based makeup remover. It's important to note that once this baby dries down, there's no going back—so make sure you're committed to the shade before it dries down completely.

Colors: 30 Shades | Formula: Matte | Cruelty-free: No

Best Glossy: Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Pillow Plump XXL Lip Gloss

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Also available at Target and Walgreens

What We Love: It really plumps your lips and makes them look fuller.

What We Don't Love: The formula can feel really tingly on your lips.

If you love a good gloss that works to plump up your lips too, look no further than the Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Pillow Plump XXL Lip Gloss. This pick has been heralded for its ultra-shiny, gorgeous finish, along with its magic ability to really enhance your lips.

We love how full, pouty, and sumptuous this makes our lips look, but if you're not a fan of lip glosses that tingle, you might not love this pick. With a chocolate cake scent and four sexy, nudey shades, this gloss will fill in any fine lines you have in your lips and offers a nice wash of soft color.

One thing to note is that you don't need a lot to achieve a fuller-looking pout—just apply a thin amount of product, and you'll start to feel the tingle in less than a minute. Otherwise, you'll be left with a goopy, sticky mess if you apply too much.

Colors: 4 Shades | Formula: Glossy | Cruelty-free: Yes

Best Hydrating: Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick

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Also available at Target and Walmart

What We Love: It's super hydrating and leaves a pretty wash of color.

What We Don't Love: It isn't long-lasting.

The Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick has been on drugstore beauty shelves for years thanks to its intensely hydrating formula and buttery feel. This chubby stick of color is formulated with fruit extracts, mango butter, and shea butter for a balm-like wash of color that glides onto your lips seamlessly.

This pick comes in 17 shades in a plethora of colors—you can choose shades 20-80 for a sheer and shimmery finish, or shades 90-180 for a bold and creamy finish. The Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick offers a nice hint of shine without being too glossy, and comes in nude, red, purple, and pink colors.

There are so many things to love about these sticks, but, just like any beauty product, it has its downsides as well. If you're someone who is sensitive to scent, you might not love the extra-fruity aroma coming off these lipsticks. Additionally, don't expect the color to last all day—these balms aren't long-lasting and should be reapplied throughout the day.

Colors: 17 Shades | Formula: Sheer | Cruelty-free: No

Best Bold Lip Colors: Black Radiance Perfect Tone Lip Color

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Also available at Target and Walmart

What We Love: It's very pigmented and gives great color payoff.

What We Don't Love: The color might slide off during the day.

We're thoroughly impressed with the beautiful, bold shades that the Black Radiance Perfect Tone Lip Color lipsticks have to offer. If you're looking for super pigmented shades that will actually show up on a darker skin tone, this pick is for you.

While the Black Radiance Perfect Tone Lip Color lipsticks have a bunch of nudey brown shades to complement darker skin tones, we really love the beautifully bold shades like Purple Passion (a bright berry mauve), Purple Madness (a shimmery electric purple), Molten Bronze (a shimmery gold hue), and Black Out (a deep black shade). These picks are perfect for the fearless lipstick-wearer who wants all the attention.

While the super low price point is a huge plus, one of the downsides includes the lack of time this formula will actually stay on your lips. The formula isn't meant to last all day, and should be reapplied for maximum pigment throughout the day.

Colors: 20 Shades | Formula: Cream | Cruelty-free: Yes

Best Shimmer: Makeup Revolution Shimmer Bomb Lip Gloss

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Also available at Target

What We Love: The non-sticky formula gives lips an impressive glow.

What We Don't Love: Some of the shades are super shimmery.

These tubes might be short and stout, but the shimmer payoff is nothing but high-level. For those gals addicted to their shimmer glosses, this pick from Makeup Revolution needs to be in your purse rotation. The product comes in six pretty shades, from pale pinks to bold berries, each one giving glassy glitter vibes.

The non-sticky formula is infused with vitamin E for added moisture, and we love how hydrating this feels on the lips. Obviously, these shades will look different on various skin tones, and some of the lighter shimmer shades might look a bit too white (and washed out) on darker skin tones.

If you're not a fan of highly shimmer glosses, these might not be the best option for you. Some of the shades have a more subtle shimmer to them (like Starlight), while others pack a shimmer punch and scream music festival (looking at you, Light Beam).

Colors: 6 Shades | Formula: Glossy | Cruelty-free: Yes

Best Natural: Well People Optimist Lipstick

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Also available at Ulta and Target

What We Love: It's a clean vegan, and cruelty-free formula.

What We Don't Love: It's marketed as a cream, but feels more like a matte lipstick when applied.

If you're someone who is worried about what, exactly, they might be ingesting after every lipstick application, consider giving the Well People Optimist Lipsticks a spin. These formulas are non-toxic, clean, vegan, and cruelty-free.

Not only do we love the clean, natural formula of this lipstick, but we can't get enough of the color payoff, either. This pick comes in eight very pigmented shades, and will suit many skin tones. The formula is loaded with plant-based ingredients like sunflower seed wax, castor seed oil, and cupuacu butter to help hydrate your lips while you rock the color.

These lippies are free from a lot of ingredients including parabens, avobenzone, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic fragrance, dimethicone, petrolatum, and many more. While we really love the clean formula of these lipsticks, it's important to note that the formula doesn't really feel like the creamy, satin finish as marketed—we think it feels more like a lightweight matte lipstick instead.

Colors: 8 Shades | Formula: Cream | Cruelty-free: Yes

Best Sheer: Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer

Lip Shimmer
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Also available at Target and Walgreens

What We Love: The sheer wash of color is nice for natural makeup looks.

What We Don't Love: There are no shimmer-free shades in this range.

It's the scent and feel of the classic Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm, but with a sheer wash of shimmer color. We love this pocket-friendly pick for its subtle wash of color, classic minty scent, and its super moisturizing properties, too.

The Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers come in 12 stunning shades and give us a "your lips but better" vibe. We love the buildable colors and appreciate how moisturizing these products are—they're essentially just like a lip balm, but with a nice hint of color. Thanks to the hydrating ingredients like vitamin E, beeswax, and sunflower oils, your lips will never feel dry, sticky, or cakey when using these lip shimmers.

While we're a big fan of the subtle shimmer in each shade, we do wish that some of the shades were shimmer-free. That being said, the amount of shimmer isn't substantial (unlike the Makeup Revolution Shimmer Bomb Lip Gloss), so even if you're not a huge fan of shimmery lip products, you might still fall in love with this option from the drugstore.

Colors: 12 Shades | Formula: Sheer | Cruelty-free: Yes

What to Keep In Mind

Formula

When shopping for a lip product, you should choose a lipstick formula based on the look you're trying to create. "If I'm going for a bold, full impact dramatic lip, I love velvet matte lipstick formulas and liquid matte colors," explains celebrity makeup artist Mila Thomas. "Both formulas are very opaque, true to the color you see in the tube, and they stay all day."

If you're looking for just a subtle hint of color and shine, consider opting for a gloss. "Glosses are also perfect as toppers to layer on top of your matte formulas or cream lip shades—they will add shine or another color dimension," says Thomas.

Lastly, cream formulas will give you a combination of both shine and opaque bold color. "A tint formula is very transparent—some have subtle shine or can be creamier," explains Thomas.

Skin Type

Another thing to consider when choosing a lipstick is your overall skin type. "For instance, if your lips tend to be more on the dry side, maybe a matte formula would be too drying, while a satin formula or gloss will moisturize your lips and be more beneficial," explains Kole.

Your Questions, Answered

How do you pick a lipstick formula?

According to Kole, picking your lipstick formula is all about purpose and intent. "It is important to break it down and decide what you'd like to get from the product—matte lipsticks tend to be more long wearing, more opaque in pigment, and more bold in statement," he explains. "However, matte lipsticks are less comfortable and normally add dryness to the lips."

Satin formulas, on the other hand, are Kole's personal favorite, as they are easier to apply, comfortable on the lips, and they match the natural texture of your lips, too. "Sometimes, satin lips may be sheerer in pigment, but normally they can be built up to their desired color pay off."

How do you pick a color when you can't try it on?

There are multiple things to consider when picking a lip color you won't be able to try out in the drugstore. "My favorite way to do this is to try and find pictures of a person with a comparable skin tone to you that is wearing that lipstick shade," explains Kole.

Another important factor is to consider the knowledge you already know about yourself and your usual lipstick shade choices. "If you are picking a colored lipstick—does that color/tone normally complement you nicely, whether you've tried it in clothing or makeup?," asks Kole. "If you are picking a nude lipstick, aim for shades that are either one shade lighter or one to two shades darker than your skin tone to prevent it from washing you out." If you have more rosier tones in your skin, aim for rosier nudes, and if you have warmer tones in your skin, aim for nudes with yellow and orange undertones.

Scibelli suggests checking out the colors and the formula details online. "Then, in-store, try holding up the color in front of your lips in a mirror to see the potential finish," he says.

How to choose a color for your skin tone?

First off, take into consideration which skin tone you have. "If your skin tone is deep, tan or medium, blue-based reds, fire oranges, and deep plums will look amazing, as well as jewel-toned golds and bronze," explains Thomas. "Medium, light and fair skin tones can opt for reds with an orange base, baby pinks or mauves, or coral and peachy shades to complement your skin tone."

Knowing your skin undertone is also another key factor in finding a shade that's right for you. "Warm lipsticks tend to complement those with warmer undertones, while cool tones tend to complement cooler-toned makeup wearers," says Kole. "If your undertones appear more neutral, almost any lip color can complement your skin." If you are unsure of your undertone, choosing more neutrally-toned colors is an easy way to get a complementary shade without overthinking it. Kole also recommends lining your lips first with a nude lip liner that flatters your skin tone, which will instantly make the color you apply in the center more consistent and complementary to the rest of your makeup.

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