The 13 Best Lipsticks for Older Women With Intense Color Payoff

From a high-shine finish to a smudge-proof matte, these lipsticks for older women are long-lasting and comfortable to wear

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 Best Lipsticks for Older Women

InStyle / Kristin Kempa

There is not a single beauty product that can pull a look together like lipstick. A quick swipe of color has the ability to make you look polished, even if it’s the only thing you have on your face. It shows people you made an effort — and it should make you feel like a million bucks. 

As we get older and our faces evolve, it seems like lipstick becomes less of a finishing touch and more of an anxiety-provoking experience. Over time, our lips start to deflate, losing both volume and their natural color while gaining fine lines and wrinkles. Yet on the bright side, it’s clear from our experiments with different formulas and hues that the right lipstick can revive and refresh aging lips.

Best Overall

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick

Charlotte Tilbury 

What We Love: Every single shade in this collection is designed to flatter all skin tones.

What We Don’t Love: We’ve been burned by the discontinuation of some really fantastic shades.

Simply taking this lipstick out of the box will hint to you that you’re in for a treat — the beautiful rose gold and retro-inspired fluted tube is like jewelry for your makeup bag. And what’s inside is even nicer: A lipstick with a uniquely sculpted tip that makes it easy to define the edges of your lips, especially if you’re not a big fan of lip liners. 

While the formula is described as matte, we’d call it more of a satin-matte hybrid, which is a good thing in our opinion — many of today’s mattes are ultra-flat, making dry or mature lips look dehydrated and crinkly. However, this one feels hydrating and silky, thanks to vitamin E and orchid extracts, while subtle luminous pigments create an optical plumpness without showing any sheen or sparkle. The soft texture fills in fine lines without calling attention to them or feathering with wear.

For many, the price may be a little steep, but it’s worth noting that the tubes have lasted us a long time, as do the formulas on our lips, though your mileage may vary. What’s been more disappointing is the fact that so many of the brand’s best shades have been limited edition. However, you’ll have no trouble finding the lineup’s most iconic hue, Pillow Talk (a fave of Amal Clooney’s).

Price at time of publish: $34

Type: Bullet|Number of Colors: 17|Key Ingredients: Orchid extract, vitamin E

Best Budget

L’Oréal Paris Color Riche Les Nus Intense Lipstick

Loreal Paris Color Riche Les Nus Intense Lipstick


What We Love: These creamy lipsticks are an affordable alternative to the shades in Charlotte Tilbury’s range.

What We Don’t Love: The Color Riche formula features a strong fragrance that not everyone will enjoy.

If you’re balking at the idea of shelling out over $30 for one of Charlotte Tilbury’s lipsticks, consider this collection from L’Oréal Paris. As an extension of the Color Riche line, Les Nus Intense offers a range of full-coverage neutral lipsticks across the color spectrum, from light peachy pinks to deep orange browns. They feel buttery and hydrating, courtesy of argan oil, making them especially comfy on dry, mature lips, but it may be hard for some to get past the scent, which is a strong floral aroma.

Price at time of publish: $11

Type: Bullet|Number of Colors: 12|Key Ingredients: Argan oil

Best Splurge

Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Color

Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour


What We Love: Beyond the lightweight formula, we’re obsessed with the sleek packaging.

What We Don’t Love: Chanel offers some beautiful colors in this formula that are limited edition; discontinuation has been heartbreaking.

Call this one love at first sight: You’ll be entranced by the lipstick’s packaging before you even get to the formula inside. When you tap the golden CCs at the bottom of the tube, the lipstick pops out (and securely locks back in with a satisfying click). 

While you might be reluctant to start using it so as not to mess up the bullet — it’s embossed with the brand name, another lovely hint of luxury — it’s worth it. The silky and very lightweight formula glides over lips to coat them with intense pigment in a range of sophisticated shades, including ultra-wearable neutrals and classic reds. Many of them are available in the nail color range, too, if coordination is your thing.

Sure, the price may be on the steeper side, but it is Chanel, and the formula is as luxe as the brand name would imply it to be. Castor and coconut oils condition the lips, while a unique sappan wood extract soothes and comforts. 

One thing to be aware of with these lipsticks is your shade selection — hues from seasonal collections don’t always get added to the permanent range, and it’s not always easy to tell which ones are limited edition and which aren’t. So, if you’re truly in love with one hue and you’re not sure if it’s sticking around, we suggest you buy a backup tube just in case.

Price at time of publish: $45

Type: Bullet|Number of Colors: 24|Key Ingredients: Coconut oil, castor oil, sappan wood extract

Best Drugstore

Revlon ColorStay Satin Ink Liquid Lipstick

Revlon ColorStay Satin Ink Liquid Lipstick


What We Love: This is the most comfortable and hydrating liquid lipstick we’ve ever tried.

What We Don’t Love: There’s a bit of a learning curve to mastering the use of this liquid formula.

There’s a reason that this is the only liquid lipstick formula to make the cut on this list — this is one of the very, very rare few that doesn’t strip the lips, flake, crack, or feather. It features a high-shine finish in a comfortable, flexible texture and a shade range that includes everyday neutrals and “fashion” colors, like neon fuchsia and true orange. 

However, those who just dive into the tube and apply with abandon may not instantly like this product — the key to a successful application starts with wiping excess formula off the wand before applying thin coats and letting it fully set. With this technique, you’ll get up to 16 hours (!) of wear. Otherwise, the product will move and feel tacky on the lips. 

Price at time of publish: $12

Type: Liquid|Number of Colors: 20|Key Ingredients: Black currant seed oil, vitamin E

Best Contouring

Hourglass Confession Ultra Slim High Intensity Refillable Lipstick

Hourglass Confession Ultra Slim High Intensity Refillable Lipstick

Hourglass Cosmetics

What We Love: The super skinny bullet of this lipstick allows for precise application.

What We Don’t Love: The price is steep, but it is refillable (and the refills are cheaper than the original).

This lipstick’s elongated, slender, and refillable tube reminds us of the cigarette holders used in Old Hollywood, but more luxe — after all, this one is gold and houses a fabulous and creamy lipstick. 

The bullet is one of the narrowest we’ve ever seen, which is great not just for aesthetics but for function too — lip contouring requires a controlled application and this makes it a breeze. 

The moisturizing formula comes in a delightful array of shades that won’t feather or smear. While the initial investment may be on the higher side, keep in mind that this tube is refillable, so once you’ve used up the first insert, subsequent purchases of your fave shade will be $24.

Price at time of publish: $39

Type: Bullet|Number of Colors: 40|Key Ingredients: Sunflower seed oil

Best Hydrating

Urban Decay Vice Hydrating Lipstick

Urban Decay Vice Hydrating Lipstick


What We Love: It lives up to its name — it’s truly hydrating.

What We Don’t Love: There’s no fragrance, but the plasticky base odor is strong enough to notice while you’re wearing it.

Urban Decay has been a favorite of ours for years. While we were wary when the brand discontinued its former lipstick formula in favor of this one, we’re big enough to admit when we’re wrong: This comfortable lipstick delivers the hydration of a balm in a lightweight, silky texture that’s a pleasure to apply. 

The spread of shades includes some eye-popping brights, like the “punk pink” shade Hollyweird, as well as plenty of mauves, dusty pinks and taupes. Bonus: The mirrored sculpted tube feels great in the hand (and makes it easy to find in a dark purse). 

There are only two detractors, in our opinion: The formula does transfer, so if your date doesn’t like wearing your lipstick, save this one for another time, and the scent is fairly potent. However, we’d rather smell this base odor than a powerful fake fragrance.

Price at time of publish: $23

Type: Bullet|Number of Colors: 35|Key Ingredients: Aloe vera, avocado oil

Best Matte

Violette Fr Bisou Balm Sheer Matte Lipstick

Violette Fr Bisou Balm Sheer Matte Lipstick

Violette Fr

What We Love: This is the perfect “your lips but better” formula.

What We Don’t Love: We’re eagerly awaiting more shades.

Inspired by the French concept of bouche mordue, or “just bitten lips,” this quartet of matte lipstick shades offer an instant flush to the lips, creating a put-together look that goes with any makeup or outfit with a quick swipe. 

Though it’s matte, the lipstick’s velvety texture doesn’t enhance rough texture, but rather sits on top of the lips to deliver a sheer wash of color as well as light nourishment from rapeseed oil and pau d’arco. Using it is seriously foolproof — instead of creating harsh lines, Bisou Balm offers blurred edges that look effortless, not sloppy, regardless of which color you use.

We’re partial to Bêtise, a warm mauve, but all the shades are beautiful. Sadly, there are only four of them right now, and all are on the pink to neutral side of things. We’d love to see a few spunky reds.

Price at time of publish: $28

Type: Bullet|Number of Colors: 4|Key Ingredients: Rapeseed oil, pau d’arco

Best Satin

Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick

Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick

Yves Saint Laurent 

What We Love: Despite the light and delicate feel of this formula, it delivers serious pigment payoff.

What We Don’t Love: For the price, we’d love to see some skincare ingredients in the formula.

Every time we use this YSL lipstick, we’re surprised by how weightless it feels, yet how moisturizing and intensely pigmented the formula is. There are plenty of wearable neutrals and punchy, poppy shades to choose from. “They have never disappointed me in terms of performance and they always deliver a high concentration of pigment with a luxurious feel,” says Thomas. 

We also love that when you order directly from the brand, you get your tube engraved with a custom message or monogram. As chic as the product is, though, we’d love a few skin-loving ingredients to be incorporated into the formula for added nourishment.

Price at time of publish: $38

Type: Bullet|Number of Colors: 27|Key Ingredients: Glycerin

Best Shiny

Dior Addict Hydrating Shine Lipstick

Dior Dior Addict Refillable Shine Lipstick


What We Love: This formula feels more like a hydrating glossy balm than a lipstick.

What We Don’t Love: It isn’t a longwearing formula.

Both Thomas and Lo cited this Dior pick as a favorite of theirs, and it’s one of ours, too. It feels incredibly comfortable, even for all-day wear, while moisturizing jasmine wax and plum oil allow the formula to melt into lips, creating a glaze-like finish. 

As you might imagine, like most shiny formulas, this one doesn’t offer longwear benefits — you’ll get about four hours at most. However, the tubes are refillable, which does defray some cost overtime, and for an added fee, you can also get a “couture lipstick case” in the brand’s signature cannage (a pink patent leather-like tube with the stitching you’d see on Lady Dior bags) or ‘00s denim.

Price at time of publish: $42

Type: Bullet|Number of Colors: 25|Key Ingredients: Jasmine wax, plum oil

Best Gloss

Tarte Maracuja Juicy Lip Plump

Tarte Maracuja Juicy Lip Plump


What We Love: The cushy gloss-balm-lipstick blend delivers a seriously shiny finish while making lips look fuller.

What We Don’t Love: The product can get too soft, making precious application challenging.

We’ve been hooked on this formula since we first tried it, due to its super soft texture and sheer, lip-enhancing shades. It’s loaded with nourishing oils and fruit extracts that help boost collagen, seal in moisture, and fight signs of aging. The high sheen finish and cream base smooth out fine lines while adding major dimension to lips. 

Be careful with this one in warmer weather, though — the very, very soft bullet gets even softer in high temps and may deposit chunks of pigment or even snap off. We also think that soft texture may contribute to the dysfunctional mechanism responsible for pushing out the product. 

Price at time of publish: $24

Type: Push-up bullet|Number of Colors: 8|Key Ingredients: Maracuja oil, grapeseed oil, goji berry

Best Red

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick


What We Love: The intense and rich red color delivers on drama, plus the packaging’s lip detail makes the tube a fashion accessory in and of itself.

What We Don’t Love: Like many mattes, this formula doesn’t offer hydrating benefits.

When asked for her perfect red for mature lips, this was Thomas’s pick by a landslide. “It wears like a dream, doesn’t feel overly dry, lasts quite a long time, and is a classic red,” she shares, adding that this formula is one of her top picks in the matte category, too. 

It should come as no surprise that the lipsticks from iconic makeup artist Pat McGrath are seriously pigmented, but for the amount of color payoff, the formulas feel surprisingly light on the lips. Once they’re on, they’re on — you can expect to get a full day of even wear out of this lipstick, so long as you don’t consume overly greasy foods, which can cause the pigment to break down. 

While we admit it’s not aggressively drying like many matte formulas we’ve tried, don’t look for it to even slightly moisturize or hydrate. Still, it won’t exacerbate the look of lines or feather like others do, so if you can handle a little dryness in exchange for a killer red, Forbidden Love is worth a try.

Price at time of publish: $39

Type: Bullet|Number of Colors: 34|Key Ingredients: Squalane

Best Pink

Danessa Myricks Beauty Luxe Cream Palette in The Feminist

Danessa Myricks Beauty Luxe Cream Palette in The Feminist


What We Love: This palette contains four pink-toned shades that make it easy to create a custom lip color — and the formula can be used on cheeks, too.

What We Don’t Love: The formula is very concentrated and rich, so you’ll need to experiment with the product a bit so as not to overdo it on your application.

While there are hundreds of red lipsticks to suit a variety of skin tones, it’s not so easy to find a pink that is universally flattering. “It’s all about how soft or bold you want your lip color and knowing which colors play best with your skin tone to achieve that look,” says Bryant, who recommends the cream palettes from Danessa Myricks Beauty to customize your perfect shade of pink. While it’s not exactly purse friendly, it’s great for travel — you’ll be packing 12 lipsticks in one easy palette — and they can be used on cheeks too, cutting down makeup bag bulk even further. 

Keep in mind that Danessa Myricks is an artistry brand, meaning pigment payoff is strong, so start with a light application first and layer from there. We recommend practicing using this palette on a day spent at home to really master your shade and application process. 

Price at time of publish: $44

Type: Palette|Number of Colors: 12|Key Ingredients: Jojoba oil, shea butter, vitamin E

Best Vegan

Victoria Beckham Beauty Posh Lipstick

Victoria Beckham Beauty Posh Lipstick

Victoria Beckham Beauty 

What We Love: The tortoiseshell packaging is totally stunning, as is the formula inside.

What We Don’t Love: The size of the tube is on the smaller side, so you may not be getting bang for your buck.

This vegan lipstick is very moisturizing — the brand refers to it as a “color balm” — and that’s thanks to an infusion of plant-derived ingredients, including nourishing avocado oil, plumping pomegranate, and cushiony candelilla wax. The curated collection of shades largely consists of neutrals (think Victoria’s signature lip during her Posh Spice years), though you’ll find a few vibrant shades in there. The formula also sheers out easily, so if the color is too intense for your liking, you can bring it down, and the slim bullet makes for easy targeted application, especially on thinner or aging lips.

In addition to the bullet being thinner than most, the (truly beautiful!) tube is on the petite side of average, which makes it great for slipping into a tight pocket or a tiny purse, but if you’re looking for value in your lipstick purchase, this may not be your first choice.

Price at time of publish: $38

Type: Bullet|Number of Colors: 15|Key Ingredients: Rosehip, coconut, and avocado oils

What to Keep in Mind


The most important factor in wearing makeup is that you feel good in it, full stop. If you want to wear a bright purple or neon orange lipstick, do so — makeup is meant to be a reflection of your personality. 

Selecting makeup for your skin tone is an art, but you can never go wrong with a solid neutral or nude that flatters your skin tone. Look for something that livens up your whole face when you apply it and avoid colors that make you look washed out or ruddy. For a night out, reach for a classic true red, like Pat McGrath Labs Mattetrance Lipstick in Forbidden Love.


To enhance the look of your lips without exacerbating texture caused by fine lines and wrinkles, look for satin and cream textures. “I would steer clear of anything too slippery or too matte,” warns Lujan. 

Slippery formulas, like traditional lip glosses or liquid formulas, usually feel great on lips, but can slide around on more mature lips, sometimes even beyond the perimeter of the lip. Ultra-matte lipsticks tend to make lips feel parched and can often make them look it, too. Similarly, frosty and glittery lipsticks can reveal more texture than you might like.

If you’ve always relied on matte lipsticks in the past, you may be reluctant to give them up as they typically have excellent longwearing properties, despite their dryness. While many satin formulas boast impressive wear these days, there are tricks you can use to lock them down. We love Thomas’s simple technique: After applying lip liner and then your lipstick, blot your lips until you see zero color on the tissue. This is a great method for a formula like Urban Decay Vice Hydrating Lipstick, which feels extremely comfortable on the lips and provides wonderful color payoff, but can transfer some.

To make any lip last longer, Lujan recommends prepping and priming your skin, both on the lips themselves as well as the surrounding area. “Hydrating and nourishing the skin is super important,” says Lujan. “I would suggest doing it first thing in the morning andagain right before bed.” 

For added conditioning, try an intensive lip treatment. Bryant is especially a fan of Tatcha Kissu Lip Mask. “You’ll wake up with softer, smoother lips; the more hydrated the lips, the better lipstick will look and wear throughout the day,” she adds.


It’s worth paying attention to what’s in your lipstick, especially when you have mature lips. You’ll want to look for ingredients that not only feel good, but support your lip health. “I love any type of butter, emollient, or waxy base,” says Lujan. “They tend to wear well and help repel water.” 

Lo specifically recommends shea butter, coconut oil, and hyaluronic acid, all ingredients that help nourish and lock water into the skin. You can find coconut oil in Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lipstick.

Thomas doesn’t recommend any specific ingredients so much as caring about the quality of the lipstick itself. “I have generally found that higher-quality ingredients on lips are incredibly important, especially considering how much lipstick we ingest in our lifetime,” she says. If that’s a concern of yours, trying clean formulas like Victoria Beckham Beauty Posh Lipstick should be on your go-to list.

Your Questions, Answered

Should older women line their lips before using lipstick?

Lip liner goes in and out of style (we’re definitely experiencing an “in” phase right now), but it should be a mainstay of the mature woman’s makeup bag. “As our skin matures, we lose definition around the lips,” explains Lo. “Lining the lips before applying a stain or lipstick helps give more structure.” The waxy consistency of lip liner also helps seal the edges of a lip look to help longevity.

Bryant prefers to apply liner to her clients after applying lipstick, but her most critical step in defining the lips comes before applying any color. That’s assessing the lip shape and determining how you’d like your lips to look once you’ve put on your lipstick. 

“For example, my lips take a slight downward turn at the corners, so before applying any color, I start with a little concealer applied to the bottom corners of my lips,” she explains. “I’m basically ‘erasing’ a tiny amount of my natural lip line so that it blends with the skin on my face, leaving a lip shape that appears softened and lifted.” From there, she applies her lipstick of choice, then uses a lip liner, being sure to work it into the edge of the lipstick for a seamless blend.  

When selecting a lip liner, Lujan recommends using a shade similar to your natural lip color. “This makes it easy to balance or overdraw with confidence,” she says.

Thomas recommends starting in the center of your top lip, sculpting out your Cupid’s bow before lining the center of your bottom lip and wrapping up this slow and methodical technique by “connecting to the center from the outside corners of the mouth inward.” Finish by dusting a light veil of translucent powder on top for ultimate longevity.

What is the best lipstick formula for an older woman?

What you wear is always up to you, but all of our experts recommend looking for something soft. “A creamy lipstick is best as it keeps the lips hydrated rather than drying them out and deepening fine lines,” says Lo. 

You also want the texture to be just right: “I find most matte formulas to be too drying and that glossy textures feather too easily, but satin formulas mimic the texture of a healthy lip,” says Thomas. 

A satin finish is the Goldilocks of lipsticks: Not too creamy, not too flat, but just right.

Why Shop With Us

Emily Orofino is a freelance writer, editor, and consultant with over a decade of experience in the beauty industry. She tried her first lipstick at four years old and has been chasing that high ever since — though she easily has several hundred lipsticks at this point, she will never stop trying new formulas. For this piece, she interviewed professional makeup artists Natalia Thomas, who has worked with stars like Zazie Beetz and Karlie Kloss, Brittany Lo, founder of on-demand makeup artistry service Beautini as well as skincare line Beia, Terri Bryant, founder of Guide Beauty, and Nick Lujan, Director of Artistry & Education at Kevyn Aucoin, who has worked with Beyoncé and Kim Petras, among others.

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