Saturday, October 9th, 2010


Lipstick Comparisons: $13 to $25 (Part 1)

In this price range, lipsticks tend to be more pigmented, have less synthetic scents, and wear an average of four hours. I’m not typically disappointed beyond belief with a lipstick formula in this price range. Brands from MAC to NARS to Smashbox fall into this price tier, while designer brands like Chanel, Dior, and YSL are in the next tier. There are really SO many brands and formulas to choose from in this category that I had to split this post into two parts!

Benefit Full Finish Lipstick ($18.00)

  • PROS: Creamy, opaque, glossy, wears for 3 to 4 hours, moisturizing
  • NEUTRAL: 0.10 oz., slight sweet scent
  • CONS: Very limited shade range
  • MY REC: These aren’t quite as glossy or as creamy as the Silky Finish line, but they’re more opaque. I still find them rather creamy and moisturizing, though. Some of mine seem to have a very subtle sweetened scent while others have none.

Benefit Silky Finish Lipstick ($18.00)

  • PROS: Creamy, moisturizing, glossy, wears for 3 to 4 hours
  • NEUTRAL: 0.10 oz., shades range from sheer to semi-opaque, slight sweet scent
  • CONS: Short shade range centered around pinks
  • MY REC: The Silky Finish is a much glossier, often shimmered lipstick compared to Benefit’s Full Finish range. These actually remind me quite a bit of Laura Mercier’s Stick Gloss. They’re more moisturizing than the average lipstick and have a slicker texture, too. Some of mine seem to have a very subtle sweetened scent while others have none.

Bobbi Brown Lip Color Lipstick ($22.00)

  • PROS: Creamy, slightly glossy, wears 4-6 hours, opaque
  • NEUTRAL: 0.12 oz., scent-free, more neutral/pink based shade range
  • CONS: One finish (semi-matte)
  • MY REC: I like the pigmentation and creaminess in the texture of Bobbi Brown’s Lip Color. Sometimes I get caught in thinking that Bobbi Brown is all about sheers, but then the Lip Color line always reminds me that it’s not always the case. Despite their creaminess, they’re not moisturizing; not drying either, but not particularly moisturizing.

Clinique Long Last Soft Shine Lipstick ($14.00)

  • PROS: Wearable shade range, creamy, moisturizing, semi-opaque
  • NEUTRAL: 0.14 oz., more neutral/pink based shade range, scent-free
  • CONS: Wears 2 to 3 hours (despite being touted as long-wearing)
  • MY REC: I think Clinique makeup often gets overlooked, but I like how much of their makeup is scent-free. I also think they’re worth more than just a glance given the price tag.

Illamasqua Lipstick ($22.00)

  • PROS: Opaque, true-to-tube color, wears 5 to 7 hours, lots of fun shades
  • NEUTRAL: 0.14 oz., scent-free
  • CONS: Mostly matte finishes, dry
  • MY REC: It’s important to note that while the texture itself seems a little dry, these lipsticks don’t suck the moisture out of your lips, but they definitely don’t impart any either. With an abundance of matte shades with drier finishes, these are not ideal for those with dry to ultra dry lips.

Korres Guava Lipstick ($22.00)

  • PROS: Creamy, opaque, moisturizing, wears 3 to 4 hours
  • NEUTRAL:  Guava-scented
  • CONS: 0.06 oz., limited shade range
  • MY REC: My biggest issue with these is how little you get; they’re half the size of Korres’ Mango Butter Lipsticks and $4 more. The Guava lipsticks are more opaque and not as glossy in the finish, but they’re a little less moisturizing than the Mango Butters.

Korres Mango Butter Lipstick ($18.00)

  • PROS: Creamy, moisturizing, semi-sheer, wears 3 to 4 hours
  • NEUTRAL: 0.12 oz., mango-scented
  • CONS: Name/numbering system doesn’t always match tube color, limited shade range
  • MY REC: I find these very moisturizing, and I love the glossiness of the finish, because it almost looks like you’re just wearing a gloss. If you have dry lips and haven’t tried these, you might want to give ‘em a shot.

Laura Mercier Creme Lip Colour ($22.00)

  • PROS: Creamy, semi-opaque, wears 3 to 4 hours
  • NEUTRAL: 0.14 oz., scent-free
  • CONS: Limited shade range
  • MY REC: I’ve found these to be very creamy, and they’re often more on the opaque side of color. They impart some moisture but I wouldn’t consider it a moisturizing lipstick.

Laura Mercier Stick Gloss ($20.00)

  • PROS: Moisturizing, glossy, semi-sheer, wears 3 to 4 hours
  • NEUTRAL: 0.12 oz., Berry-scented
  • CONS: Very limited shade range
  • MY REC: It’s very comfortable to wear and feels incredibly moisturizing–it’s just a shame that there are so few shades available.

The Lipstick Comparisons series is designed to provide a quick reference summary sheet for some of the many available lipstick formulas. It seems like most brands have at least a couple of formulas, if not half a dozen, and it can be difficult to find the formulas that will work best for your budget, coloring, style, or taste.

This is not necessarily a best of list, and it’s not exhaustive–it is based on actual lipsticks that I’ve tried; they are all, however, decent to excellent lipsticks. (And perhaps, some day, it will be an exhaustive list.) I have summarized my experience based on pros and cons, but also some “neutral” factors that may be pros or cons, depending on your preferences. I will update this series as I try new lipstick formulas.


Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

Comments that include advertisements, self-promotion, insults, etc. may be in violation of our comment policy and subject to deletion. Please see our comment policy for more information.

17 thoughts on “Lipstick Comparisons: $13 to $25 (Part 1)

  1. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Linda Linda

    Wow, you do such a nice job of detailing these products…cool!
    Yes, the Laura Mercier stick glosses do have a limited shade range , but they do have Courtisane, the MOST gorgeous shade ever. I just got this a couple weeks ago and I love it. I have the courtisane l/s , too.

  2. This price range is my home. I don’t like to go under unless it comes highly recommended, and I’m afraid to go over for fear of not wanting to go back!

    I am always pleasantly surprised with Clinique’s lipsticks, but the shade range is very neutral and safe. There are times when that’s good, but I’d love a funky bright pink or coral in the Butter Shine formula!

  3. Kimber Y.

    Thank you for all the info! I’ve been wanting to branch out from Nars and MAC lipsticks. This will be an excellent reference.

  4. Telma

    My Benefit lipstick seems to evaporate from my lips… it doesn’t last at all, not even a half hour, and that’s with me not doing anything! (not smoking, eating, or even talking)

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Michelle Michelle

      Same here! I have the Silky Finish in Jing-a-Ling (pretty MLBB pink), but it just wears off so fast :( sad too, because otherwise I might buy it again.

  5. Beth

    This is my preferred price range for lipsticks. I commented in the last lipstick post that all drugstore lipsticks make my lips peel, which I actually thought was *normal* until I tried some in this price range about two years ago. No more peeling lips!!
    Based on this post, I might check out the Korres Mango Butter lipsticks.

  6. Jennifer

    I find the Benefit Silky finish to feel a little drying after awhile. It isn’t a big deal, since I love “Good to go” so much!
    I think I find Benefit’s full finish more moisturizing or less drying than the silky finish. I have “Wild Card” and “La La Land” in this finish.

  7. what about lancôme

  8. Wow, I’ve read the first two installments and I can’t wait to get to part 2! This guide is so helpful. It’s really awesome of you to write this for us!

  9. Coco

    Thanks so much for this comparison chart! You make it so much easier to compare and shop for the perfect lipstick <3!

  10. Luisafer

    this is a very useful and easy way to put this lipsticks, love it!!! and thanks again for all your help

  11. Eileen

    There are so many lipsticks out there and for those of us who don’t have the time to try them all out …. this is a great summary & catagorization. I tend to keep re-buying the same ones though that I already know and like, until they get discontinued …. ;-)

  12. peachgirl

    Great post! However; illamasqua lipsticks are NOT scent free! They have a vanilla scent, not as overbearing as the one of MAC lipsticks but it’s definitely there. Just mentioning for those sensitive to scents.

  13. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Alisha Alisha in WI

    I really like this series! What would you say the wear is on the Bobbi Brown?

  14. Kelly C.

    So I had to drive up to Norstrom today anyway to return something, I decided to check out the Laura Mercier Lipsticks, since you recommended them. I ended up leaving with a Sheer lipstick in the color Baby lips. So creamy! I would agree with you, these lipsticks (at least the sheer one) is moist, borderline moisturizing, and my flaky dry lips love it. Thanks for the review, I would never have thought to check out this brand. : )