Best Lipsticks (2021) | Editor's Top Picks

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MAC Love Me Lipstick  
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MAC Love Me Lipstick  
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MAC Love Me Lipstick  
MAC Love Me Lipstick
MAC Love Me Lipstick  
MAC Love Me Lipstick  
MAC Love Me Lipstick  
MAC Love Me Lipstick  

Welcome to our updated guide to the Best Lipsticks for 2021! Every year, there are so many lipsticks launched that I can’t even hope to test and review every single newly-released shade, but I certainly give it a good try!  There are a few new entries this year, but for the most part, it’s a list of tried and true formulas that I’ve tested over the years. It may not be the year of the lipstick, but for those who are still rockin’ their lipstick, enjoy!

Every product recommended below has been tested and reviewed by me, your Editor-in-Chief, and I test thousands of products every year–so they’ve earned their way onto this list. To read more about a specific shade or view swatches, make sure to use the drop downs and buttons below, as we’ve tried to make this guide comprehensive and easy to use!

Pat McGrath Divinyl Lip Shine

The formula is supposed to offer "mirror-esque" shine with "rich color" that has a lot of "hydration." It's part of the brand's Lip Fetish range, which is a lip balm-based formula, but these appear to be the higher coverage offering within the various finishes available. They have a smooth, balm-like feel--light glide but not overly slippery, lightweight, and comfortable to apply and to wear. Read more...

ColourPop Just a Tint Lippie Tint

The formula is described as "the perfection sheer wash of colour in the comfiest, lightweight, super moisturizing formula." Here's the big takeaway... they are not that sheer; they're not a wash of color. They have medium to semi-opaque, buildable coverage with a few shades being more true medium in coverage; I just wouldn't say they're sheer nor just a wash. That medium to semi-opaque level of coverage still allows for some translucency, which gives the color a lighter look that's more like a stain. Read more...


MAC Love Me Lipstick

The formula is supposed to have a "lighter-than-air texture" with "all-day moisturization" paired with "intense color and soft shine." They had semi-opaque to fully opaque color coverage in a single layer, and most of the shades applied evenly and smoothly to my lips without emphasizing lip texture or sinking noticeably into my lip lines. Read more...

Sephora Rouge Lacquer

The lipstick is supposed to have a "silky smooth melting formula" that yields "intense long-lasting color and high-shine" with "instant hydration." Most shades were creamy without being so slippery that they felt that way or went on unevenly. They do melt quickly, though, so if they are left in a warmer area (with all my photography lights running) and applied, they feel substantially creamier than at room temperature (about 72 degrees). Read more...

Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro

The consistency has more slip and a velvety-smooth feel that softly “clings” to the lips, so while the finish has a glossier look for the first few hours, the color stays on well. If you’ve ever used a silicone-based primer, there’s a bit of that feel to the formula overall. Most shades last between six and eight hours on me, are non-drying to lightly hydrating, and comfortable to wear. The formula is unscented and has no discernible taste. Read more...

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick

The formula is supposed to have "lightweight color and moisturizing shine" with "buildable color payoff" and a "gliding, smooth application." It's a good formula for those who like medium, buildable coverage with a smooth, balmy consistency that glides across lips easily but doesn't feel too slippery while worn. Read more...

NARS Audacious Lipstick

The formula is supposed to have "one-stroke, full-coverage" pigmentation with a "soft matte finish" that is "long-lasting" and "hydrating." The formula is best characterized by its texture: creamy, smooth, and slightly denser/thicker on (but not heavy) compared to the typical lipstick formula. Most of the shades are opaque, while "weak" shades are more semi-opaque. The majority of the colors I've tested have applied evenly and smoothly with good glide and feel comfortable on my lips. They tend to last between four and six hours and was lightly hydrating to non-drying. There was no noticeable scent or taste.

ColourPop Lux Lipstick

The formula that is supposed to be a "creamy-matte" that "glides on like butter, doesn't feather or bleed, and lasts so long you'll forget you're even wearing it." The majority of the shades were quite pigmented with full color payoff in a single stroke with a few in the more semi-opaque coverage range. Read more...


Shiseido VisionAiry Gel Lipstick

The formula is supposed to have "high levels of pigment" for "cushiony, comfortable, weightless color" that lasts for "six hours." They had rich color coverage in a single stroke, just as promised, and they were creamy and emollient, which made them comfortable and easy to apply on my lips. Read more...

Guerlain Rouge G de Guerlain Lip Color (2018)

The formula is supposed to have "intense colour" with a hydrating base that includes things like jojoba and mango butter as well as hyaluronic acid (and gugul resin) to "help to smooth and plum up lips." I would describe the formula as somewhere between semi-opaque and opaque, often buildable, with a luminous sheen that seems like there's very, very fine pearl but less distinctive shimmer (except for the shades that are actually shimmery). Read more...

Pat McGrath MatteTrance Lipstick

The formula is supposed to be “richly pigmented” with “”supreme hydration” and “opulent matte opacity.” The consistency was smooth, velvety, and dense without being too firm for one-stroke, glide-on application (I found the original shades to be slightly firmer compared to more newly released shades). They had nearly opaque to opaque coverage in one layer and most were buildable. Read more...

Sephora Lipstories Lipstick

The formula is supposed to be "lightweight" with "full-coverage color in one swipe." The majority of shades were pigmented with semi-opaque to full color payoff in a single layer, as described. The more shimmery shades tended to be a bit sheerer overall, while the mattes and creams were usually closer to opaque in coverage. Read more...

Fenty Beauty Slip Shine Sheer Shiny Lipstick

The formula is supposed to have "sheer" coverage that is "ultra comfortable" that "lock[s] in moisture." It's designed to be something you can apply without a mirror (which just really make it clear that it is a sheerer product), but it does say "buildable" with multiple layers. The consistency was moderately dense in the tube but melted subtly as I applied it to my lips, and it felt more emollient after a few seconds of wear. They felt lightweight without being tacky, and it had more of a light-medium level of slip, so it didn't seem to slide around a lot during wear. It definitely has a balmy feel on the lips but has some staying power (but less than say, an opaque, satin lipstick). Read more...

Burberry Liquid Lip Velvet

The Liquid Lip Velvet formula is described as having “rich pigment, smooth application” and a “velvet finish that lasts up to eight hours” that is “non-drying.” Overall, the formula is fantastic for those who want the fluidity of a liquid product without the drying aspect of more traditional liquid lipsticks while not sacrificing wear time. The formula does not dry down completely, so there will be transfer, but the product is so pigmented that the color lasts awhile. Read more...

Urban Decay Vice Lipstick

Urban Decay Vice Lipstick ($17.00 for 0.11 oz.) is available in six finishes, which are primarily distinguished by level of sheen, shimmer content, and coverage. I didn't notice any scent or taste. Mega Mattes are the thinnest and have the most “cling” as they are drier and more matte (but most are semi-matte and not a totally flat matte) and can be drying, though they are longer-wearing. Read more...

Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color

Best Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color  is supposed to have one-stroke color coverage with a hydrating, smoothing formula, and “nourishing shine.” I was impressed with the formula as a whole, as the majority of the shades were very pigmented in one pass with a creamy consistency that glided on easily. There’s a richness to the texture that does feel more “luxe” in a way. Read more...

ColourPop Ultra Satin Liquid Lipstick

It is supposed to be a “lightweight, bold lipstick with a satin finish”liquid lipstick that is “extra intense colour saturation” and “long-wearing,” but the brand is quick to note that it is “not completely kiss proof.” The consistency is very light to lightweight with a thin to mousse-like consistency–they feel a little heavier going on than the Ultra Matte formula, but they don’t feel heavy on. They dry down somewhat, but it isn’t a full, flat dry down like matte liquid lipsticks, and when you press your lips together, there is moderate tackiness there, but I didn’t notice any lifting or separating of color by doing so. Read more...


Givenchy Le Rouge

The formula is supposed to have "intense color" with a "semimatte finish." Most shades are opaque with a few falling short of full coverage that apply evenly and last between four and six hours. The fomrula is lightly creamy to moderately creamy with some slip that is comfortable to wear and typically moisturizing over time. It has a floral scent but no discernible taste.

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick

The Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick formula is supposed to have “high-intensity color” in a "single stroke" that "glides on effortlessly" and has "six hour" wear. More recent copy of the formula has been more specific as it having "medium-to-full coverage." Read more...

Our Methodology

The way I approach my guides is by focusing permanent formulas that have stood the test of time–they are high quality, consistent, and all formulas that have performed well. Every shade is thoroughly tested and reviewed, and these are formulas where I’ve often tested every shade in the line of, so I really grasp each formula’s strengths and weaknesses!

More product guides: Best Blushes, Best Highlighters, Best Eyeshadow Palettes, Best Single Eyeshadows, Best Lip Glosses, Best Blush Brushes, Best Eyeshadow Brushes, Best Highlighter Brushes, Best Makeup Products of 2019.

Top Rated Lipsticks from 2021

Check out the current top 10 highest-rated lipsticks (individual shades) reviewed by the editor in 2021–this list will update automatically!

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I do want to be the proud owner of a Lisa Eldridge lipstick so I’ll try and pick one up during their restock later this month. Watchin my inbox like a hawk for her newsletter.

There are such amazing lipstick formulas out there, now. The tried and trues of the past have been surpassed. Tom Ford comes to mind. It was a revolutionary formula at one point and very ahead of trend on colour. Pat McGrath formula is probably my favourite in terms of coverage, but I’ve found more affordable options which impress me like Buxom Full Force. I love Natasha Denona shiny for a lighter looking lip. I wish UD Vice lip chemistry were longer lasting, but I do love the look and finish.

Especially when you do a lip round-up, I am astonished and amazed at how good all shades and finishes look on you. Now, I know you find certain products more flattering (OG Love Lust comes to mind,) but seriously, you can wear anything…which is why you can review EVERYTHING! Your work ethic is also greatly, widely admired and respected. Remember, when you are castigating yourself for not being able to crank reviews up at warp speed, that you are a perfectionist, and what you do requires significant analysis. We all appreciate your dedication. If i did not have their dupe list, I’d probably have 500 lipsticks in red, brown, orange, purple, and all the intergrades. And more than half of them would be duped overkill. Loving all these round ups for holiday 19.

I really love the Sephora Rouge Lacquer lipsticks. I keep forgetting to try the Lip Stories (the one I keep meaning to pick up and then keep forgetting about is Spring Break and now I see they’ve got a Sephora Loves Canada one that – come ON – I just have to try. And I walked right by Sephora today and forgot all about them! And I’ve got to mention MAC’s Amplified Creams. They have been my enduring love (I just B2M’d some empties for a Full Fuchsia!)

Since lipstick’s are a huge part of my collection and I do have a hard time saying no to one that I love, it is not surprising that I have all of these formula’s and they are in my favorites. There are several formula’s that I love that are not represented here and those would be Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution, Nars Velvet Lip Pencils and Maybelline Shine. There is also one formula represented that I don’t care for and that is the Nars Audacious. They have never worked well for me.
Thank you again for doing this, Christine.

Thank you for this impressive collection of best lipsticks.
I am a real fan of the Colour Pop Lux lipstick range and own several. They are just fantastic quality for such a ridicuously low price.

I’m really surprised that Dior didn’t make the cut. They have a fabulous line of lipsticks, and are in my top five. They rarely disappoint.

Great article as always, Christine!
I’m thing that always surprises me is that nobody ever seems to talk about Marc Jacobs’ “Le Marc Liquid Lip Crayon” formula, particularly since you love his blushes.
I discovered those mighty pencils when they launched a couple of years ago and they have been in heavy rotation for me ever since! I’ve even finished and repurchased two colours (Night Mauves and Pink Straight) which had never happened to me with lipstick before.
True, they are not cheap and they can break if not stored at the right temperature but they last for ages on your lips, fade well, are not super drying despite being matte, and have a subtle chrome finish that I’ve been asked about and complimented on repeatedly.
Am I the only one who likes them? I thought I’d bring it up! 🙂

They’re nice, but MJB has a history of making really high longevity claims, so that’s part of why you wouldn’t see it on a top list here!

I still count Tom Ford Lip Color Matte is my favorite formula. Surprised no TF lipsticks made it here. I really need to try those Shiseido gel lipsticks…that formula sounds perfect.

Awesome list! You’ve reminded me of so many lipstick finishes that I’ve loved, and inspired me to dig back into my stash to revive them (looking at you, Nars Audacious Jane).

Alas, PMG took away my beloved Luxetrance. 🙁

Guinevere is my favorite shade of the Mattetrance and definitely gets a lot of love. I wish I could find a shade of the Mac Love Me collection that I liked enough to purchase, their formula gets rave reviews everywhere I look.

Z, I feel your pain over Mother Pat DC’ing the utterly fantastic Luxetrance formula. It’s definitely one of my all-time favorite formulas, full stop. It always feels so good on, lasts very long for a traditional tube lipstick, has full opacity in a single swipe, and gorgeous shades. I’m so sad to see it gone.

This year, so many very lush, shiny balm formulas hit the market. And I want to get them, but not with our new mask wearing reality. It’s been really difficult holding off, too. What I have discovered? There are actually a few dry-down liquid lipsticks that don’t dry out my lips or give me the unfortunate butt-hole lip effect: Sephora Cream Lip Stain, MAC Retro Matte Liquid, and Ciaté’s liquid lip formula. I’d still rather be wearing a regular lipstick, though.

I’m really surprised that none of the Dior lipsticks made it in here. I guess this is just going by popularity. There doesn’t seem to be much hype over Dior, I personally find them to be wonderful.

Some of Dior’s lipsticks come with an eight-hour wear time claim, which is rarely met, and they can be heavily scented (sometimes with a taste). Based on testing them, they just don’t perform consistently better than the ones on the list here.

Okay, I see now. I personally don’t mind reapplying but if this list is mostly based on wear time then I get it. Other than that, I think its a wonderful formula. They are lightweight on the lips and are very moisturizing.

It’s not just based on wear time! The products on the list are looked at from a full range perspective – range, consistency, performance, etc. 🙂 Based on my reviewing criteria, tackiness is not a negative unless it interferes with the actual application/wear of the product (e.g. results in settling, feathering, or lots of streaking) or if the brand said it was non-tacky, then it may impact the rating. Just like thinner/thicker are attributes but not inherently “bad,” though you may have a preference for one over another!

So many of these are my favorites as well. I keep hoping that MAC will release more of the Love Me lipsticks, it’s a great formula at a good price.

PMG Mattetrance doesn’t work for me at all, I have only two and both are so uncomfortable to wear and behave badly, they turn to gritty powder on the inner part of the lips, it is so disappointing as the colours I have are lovely. I do keep my lips in good condition, so it’s not that, I wish it was so simple. The Velvet lipsticks from Lisa Eldridge also tends to do this, but it takes some hours to get there, whereas with the Mattetrance ones starts crumbling after a very short time, I think Elson lasted about 30 minutes. 🙁

For a matte, but not in any way ultra matte I use Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution, a formula that works so well for me, hydrating, lasts a long time and fades nicely.

I have and enjoy wearing lipsticks from a lot of the brands mentioned. I just wanted to give my personal experience to a top rated range.

My favourite lipsticks out of the above range is the Colour Pop Lux Lipsticks – I am hoping that CP will extend the range. They are everything the brand promises them to be.
I quite like the Sephora Lipstories range as well. Both are inexpensive and good quality.

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