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The Best Lipsticks and Lip Products of 2021, Tested by Beauty Pros

Liquids, mattes, balms, glosses and more!

ghi best lipsticks

There's truly a lipstick or lip color for everyone, whether you love the full-on glamour of a matte, longwear lipstick or the natural look of a sheer balm. But with thousands of options on the market, how do you find the ones that are worth your money? Enter the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab's team of experts, which are constantly testing all kinds of lipstick formulas.

The GH Beauty Lab has a long history of evaluating lip color and care products, including lipsticks, lip glosses, both tinted and untinted lip balms and treatments, lip oils, and more. For example, in our last test of lipsticks, over 1,232 survey questions were tallied, and for lip balms, 175 treatments were evaluated from more than 70 brands.

Our scientists evaluate formulas by analyzing their ingredients and textures, and then testing them both on experts and consumers for their application, look and feel on lips, skin benefits, lasting power, and more. Lip products that make longwear claims, like traditional and liquid lipsticks, are tested in the Lab using the Visia Complexion Analyzer to gauge color retention over hours of wear and using a hot drink transfer test to determine how well they stay on lips.

After all that testing, what are the best lipsticks, lip products, and lipstick colors and brands? Here, the GH Beauty Lab's top-tested lip enhancers you can buy, including matte, long-lasting, liquid, balm, and gloss picks, formulas for dry lips, and so much more!

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Best Overall Lipstick
Luxe Matte Lipstick
Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown nordstrom.com

Bobbi Brown Cosmetics’ extra-rich full-coverage lipcolor won “gold” in the Beauty Lab’s long-wear lipstick test for true color that stayed in place. In addition to high consumer satisfaction scores, it got top marks for not smearing or fading in the Lab’s test of color transfer to cups after a hot drink. “I forgot I had it on,” a testers commented. Users loved it so much that they were still reaching for it three weeks later.

  • Long-wearing
  • Doesn't smear or fade
  • Full coverage

  • Pricey
Best Value Lipstick
Color Sensational Lipstick
Maybelline New York
Maybelline New York amazon.com
$5.49 (27% off)

Maybelline New York‘s creamy lipstick, a GH Beauty Award winner and GH Seal star, delivers proven vivid color and smooth wear at a bargain price. It comes in a huge range of 70 shades, from nudes to pinks, berries, reds, and beyond. In a study of over 100 women, 86% reported that the lipstick’s color looked fresh, 80% said it appeared rich and 89% found that their lips looked smooth while they were wearing it, GH Beauty Lab data assessment confirmed.

  • Affordably-priced
  • Extensive shade range
  • Rich, vivid color
  • Smooth texture
Best Lip Gloss
Pop Splash Lip Gloss + Hydration
Clinique ulta.com

A fresh take on gloss, Clinique’s GH Beauty Award-winning lightweight fluid leaves behind a touch of color with glassy shine, reflecting light to make lips look plush and full. Testers loved that the formula, made with fruit extracts and vitamin E, was “not goopy and less tacky than a traditional gloss” and “felt cushiony on lips.” Bonus: It comes in a range of shades from neutrals to bolds. 

  • High shine
  • Makes lips look full
  • Less stickiness
  • Selection of shades
Best Value Liquid Lipstick
Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick
NYX Cosmetics
NYX Professional Makeup amazon.com
$5.60 (20% off)

Get nearly foolproof application and minimal color transfer at a nice price with NYX's liquid lipstick, a winner of the GH Beauty Lab's liquid lipstick test. It had strong staying power through the Lab's hot-drink test and scored best for going on precisely and evenly without feathering. The sponge-tipped wand gave "full coverage in one pass" a tester said.  

  • Applies easily
  • Resists feathering
  • Stays in place
  • Great value

  • Some testers found it drying
Best Lipstick for Dry Lips
Age Perfect Luminous Hydrating Lipstick
L'Oreal Paris
L’Oréal Paris lorealparisusa.com

Not your average lipcolor, this next-generation formula from L’Oréal Paris, a GH Beauty Award winner and GH Seal holder, contains a nourishing treatment serum core. In a clinical study, its formula with hydrating ingredients like jojoba oil and vitamin E kept lips moisturized for nine hours, and 81% of users found that it didn’t feather, per GH Beauty Lab data evaluation.

  • Made with moisturizing ingredients
  • Keeps lips hydrated
  • Resists feathering
  • Affordably-priced
Best Lip Balm
100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm
Burt's Bees
Burt's Bees amazon.com

This iconic Burt's Bees lip balm made with natural ingredients is a GH Beauty Lab top-evaluated formula. Lightly flavored with coconut and pear, the beeswax-and-shea-butter stick hydrates with coconut and sunflower oils, says GH Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D. Its shine-free finish means no goop or visible gloss.

  • Made with natural ingredients
  • Hydrating formula
  • Non-sticky matte finish
  • Great value
Best Value Lip Balm
Lip Repair Stick
Aquaphor amazon.com
$7.00 (30% off)

Aquaphor, the GH Beauty Lab gold standard drugstore salve, has morphed into a handy stick for lips. The GH Beauty Award-winning formula packs shea butter, vitamins B5 and E and sunflower seed wax to soften with no stickiness. “My lips felt soothed instantly and through the day,” a tester said.

  • Softens and soothes chapped lips
  • No-mess stick form
Best Matte Lipstick
Gel Semi-Matte Lipstick
Mary Kay
Mary Kay marykay.com

Everything you could want in a lipstick, Mary Kay’s richly-colored yet nondrying velvet matte formula is a GH Seal star and Beauty Lab all-time favorite. Evaluations found that it provides full coverage, glides on smoothly, adheres to lips without feathering, and contains jojoba butter to condition. And nearly 90% of testers reported that the shade in the tube was true to how it looked on lips.

  • Smooth, full-coverage finish
  • Resists feathering
  • Shades are true to color
  • Soft on lips
Best Long-Lasting Lipstick
Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna sephora.com

Fenty Beauty’s lipstick, a winner of the GH Beauty Lab’s longwear lipstick test, coats lips in rich pigment that doesn’t budge. The shades remained vibrant after five hours, Lab evaluations found. "Strong color throughout the day and stays on my lips even after eating!” a tester marveled.

  • Color stays on lips over five hours
  • Rich, vibrant color
Best Non-Drying Matte Lipstick
Rouge Pur Couture The Slim Matte Lipstick
Yves Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent nordstrom.com

For a shine-free finish that won’t parch lips, kiss up to one of YSL Beauty’s 17 jojoba oil–infused shades, a winner of the GH Beauty Lab’s longwear lipstick test. The lipstick earned the highest score for not drying out lips and performed well for even and vivid color, including through the Beauty Lab’s hot-drink transfer test. Testers said they “got many compliments” on the “beautiful” and “flawless” color.

  • Vibrant color
  • Resists transferring
  • Non-drying on lips

  • Pricey
Best Tinted Lip Balm
Dior Lip Glow
Dior sephora.com

The Rolls Royce of tinted lip balms, this GH Beauty Award-winning Dior formula goes on matte, giving lips the look of a sheer stain with the comfort of a treatment, thanks to nourishers like mango butter and cranberry oil. “The perfect wash of color that doesn’t look like you’re wearing a product — just like you’ve been born with the prettiest rosy lips!” a tester exclaimed. “My lips felt as soft as they do with regular balm,” another said. “It didn’t feel like I had lip color on."

  • Softens lips
  • Sheer wash of color
  • Luxurious formula and packaging

  • Pricey
Best Lip SPF
Sugar Advanced Therapy Treatment Lip Balm
Fresh sephora.com

This Fresh lip balm, a GH Beauty Lab test winner, does more than just soften lips. In Lab evaluations, the treatment was the best at reducing testers’ lip lines in four weeks, thanks to line-filling hyaluronic acid and nourishing jojoba and grape-seed oils.

  • Effectively moisturizes lips
  • Contains treatment ingredients
  • Reduces lip lines

  • Pricey
Best Value Tinted Lip Balm
MoistureSmooth Color Stick
Neutrogena amazon.com
$6.89 (15% off)

A GH Seal star, this tinted lip balm in stick form from Neutrogena easily gives lips a natural, plush look at drugstore pricing. The balmy, hydrating texture and slight sheen of the crayon, made with plant butters, help soften the look of lip wrinkles.

  • Affordably-priced
  • Silky, softening formula
  • Sheer but noticeable color
  • Easy twist-up stick
Best Lip Crayon
Velour Extreme Matte Lipstick
Laura Mercier
Laura Mercier sephora.com

A top performer in the GH Beauty Lab’s long-wear lipstick test, this slim Laura Mercier matte-finish crayon — in a range of 24 shades — ranked above the rest for staying in place. The lipcolor performed the best in the Lab’s test of color transfer on cups after the sipping of a hot drink, and with testers for not smearing or transferring throughout the day. Many testers loved how easy the twist-up pen made it to apply the lipstick precisely. The “smooth” formula also had “great color payoff.”

  • Long-lasting
  • Doesn't smear or transfer throughout the day
  • Easy-to-use, precise applicator
  • Rich color

  • Pricey
Best Lip Oil
Lip Comfort Oil
Clarins nordstrom.com

Clarins' cult favorite lip oil was the top-recommended formula in GH Beauty Lab evaluations. In five shades from sheer neutrals to berries and red, it's made with botanical oils like jojoba, hazelnut, plum, and sunflower oils plus emollients that help it stay in place and smooth, protect, and soothe lips, says GH Beauty Lab senior chemist Sabina Wizemann. "It's the perfect mix of gloss and stain that's not sticky or heavy." 

  • Add shine and a sheer tint
  • Smooths lips
  • Non-sticky

  • Pricey
Best Value Lip Oil
Total Hydration Vitamin Enriched Tinted Lip Oil
Chapstick amazon.com
$4.43 (37% off)

This GH Beauty Award-winning translucent tinted lip oil from Chapstick, which comes in shades from nude to deep-berry hues, is based on six plant oils. It gives the plumping sheen of gloss plus the nourishment of a balm in one swipe. “No stickiness, and my lips felt hydrated, not parched,” a tester noted.

  • Multiple sheer shades
  • Nourishes lips
  • Glossy finish
  • Non sticky
  • Great value
Best Lip Gloss Stick
Enamored Hydrating Lip Gloss Stick
Marc Jacobs Beauty
Marc Jacobs Beauty sephora.com

A first of its kind, this GH Beauty Award-winning Marc Jacobs formula solves every lip gloss issue. Housed in a twist-up stick, “it swipes on and feels conditioning like a lip balm without gloppy mess or a sticky feel,” a tester enthused.

  • Solid twist-up stick formula
  • Glides on and softens like lip balm

  • Pricey
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