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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)