Lipstick Comparisons: Under $12


Lipstick Comparisons: Under $12

The first part of the Lipstick Comparisons series features lipstick formulas available for less than $12.  (These are all actually less than $8, I believe!)

One of the easily detectable and distinguishing ways that more affordable lipsticks vary from higher end lipsticks is in the scent.  I have yet to find a lipstick in this price range that doesn’t tend to have a synthetic scent, and if not syrupy sweet or floral, often a nauseating mix of plastic and play-doh.  Sometimes they can also have an off-taste, too.  Both scent/taste are highly personal, though, and both dependent on your sensitivity.

Wear time can sometimes differ (noted below), but while I rarely find lipsticks that wear well for six or more hours, there are some that do wear for the average time for me (four hours is my average).

Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick (~$8.00)

  • PROS: Decent shade range, wearable shades that tend to be more universally flattering (mass appeal), smooth, opaque, wears for 3-4 hours, color-coded packaging
  • NEUTRAL: Mostly “wearable” colors — nothing really out of the box, synthetic/generic sweet scent on some while others have a more plastic scent
  • CONS: Some shades tend to cling, which make them less suitable for those with drier lips
  • MY REC: The scent can be pretty bothersome for some, but it’ll depend on how adverse you are to certain smells. For a drugstore lipstick, they might feel a little pricey, so it may be prudent to wait for a sale. It doesn’t dry my lips out, but it’s not at all moisturizing, so those with dry lips should take note.

Milani Color Perfect Lipstick ($4.99)

  • PROS: Wide range of shades, creamy, moisturizing, opaque
  • NEUTRAL: Both neutral and brighter shades, synthetic/waxy scent
  • CONS: Frost finish shades are drier and less opaque, dated packaging
  • MY REC: The creamier shades are the best of the line; they’re incredibly pigmented and apply really well. The frostier shades tend to emphasize any dryness on lips.

NYX Round Lipstick ($4.00)

  • PROS: Ridiculous amount of shades, variety in finishes, opaque, creamy, affordable
  • NEUTRAL: Scent-free but strong plastic scent on some
  • CONS: Wears off after 2-3 hours, darker shades bleed
  • MY REC: When it comes to trying out shades, NYX is definitely a go-to brand. The creamy, smooth texture and the huge shade range helps it stand out amongst other budget-friendly options. NYX also occasionally has crazy bundled packages–I remember buying 30 or 40 lipsticks for around $50 one time.

Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick (~$5.00)

  • PROS: Good shade range, creamy, doesn’t dry lips out, affordable
  • NEUTRAL: Synthetic fruity scent
  • CONS: Wears off within 1-2 hours requiring frequent reapplication
  • MY REC: It’s a decent option if you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind reapplication.

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.

(And yes, I recognize that the series photo does not include any of these brands! The image represents the series, not individual posts.)