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Lipstick is transcendentally powerful. It has inspired women like Coco Chanel to declare, “If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack.” Wearing a bold lip can impart the wearer with a feeling of power, and science can back that up, too. Studies have found a possible link between cosmetics, especially lipstick, and self-confidence, claiming that it can increase both assertiveness and the mood of the wearer. So, if you need a quick pick-me-up, perhaps try swiping on a tube of your favorite lipstick, even if you’re just Zooming from home.
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Lipstick trends and innovations for 2022
“With mask-on policy still a part of most of our day, eyes have taken center stage with high wattage shimmer,” says Chanel makeup artist Tasha Reiko Brown. But that doesn’t mean lips are staying out of the fun (in fact, data shows lipsticks still have a place in our beauty arsenal, particularly as more people get vaccinated and don’t need to wear masks in certain outdoor public settings, according to CDC guidelines). “I’m very excited about the new all-in-one light reflecting high- shine bold pigment lip textures,” Brown continues. “I love that lips are continuing that energy with maximum pigment and shine.” She recommends swiping on Chanel Rouge Coco Bloom in Dream, which has been her go-to this year for a dose of subtle color and shine.
“We’ll see more color formulas across foundation, eye makeup, blush, lips and even nails to incorporate treatment ingredients as consumers want to treat their skin 24/7,” says Krupa Koestline, founder of KKT Consultants and a clean cosmetic chemist. Following this theme, some lipsticks now include ingredients like hyaluronic acid, black rose oil and jojoba seed oil to help heal lips while also supplying a burst of color.
When it comes to trending colors in lipsticks in 2022, everything’s coming up shimmering. “I love the return to shimmer on the lips,” says makeup artist Sabrina Rinaldi. “It’s reminiscent of the early 2000’s high-shine lip glosses, but I love our modern take on the re-emerging trend.” She suggests swiping on Byredo Amber in Furs lipstick for an everyday subtle and elegant shimmer that’s a tad more wearable than the early aughts glitter iterations.
What to consider to find your perfect lipstick
There are entire books devoted to discovering your perfect shade of lipstick, but you don’t have to spend hours Googling “What lipstick color should I wear?” to find answers. “Finding your perfect lip color is such a personal journey,” Brown says. “You’ll know it’s your color when after it’s applied, your face feels like home.” It’ll take a lot of trial and error to find the shades that make your skin pop and glow. “Expect to find many perfect lip colors over and over again with each new version of yourself,” Brown says.
In general, working off your skin tone is the safest way to go, Rinaldi advises. If you have warm-toned skin (often with golden, peachy and yellow undertones), then warm-hued lipsticks like peachy and rosy pink shades as well as orange-toned reds will most likely be flattering. For those with a cooler undertones (think blue, red or pink tones), look for cool lipstick colors like plum, cherry, crimson and mauve. And when it comes to choosing the best nude lipstick, look at your lips first. “When searching for the perfect nude lip, try and find a shade that’s similar to your own lip color,” Rinaldi says. “You can go lighter, but not more than a shade or two at most or you risk your lips washing you out.”
These aren’t rules to live by though, just simply general guidelines. In fact, French makeup artist Violette believes these rules were meant to be broken. “I heard so many times if you have redness, you can’t wear strong red lipsticks, but I don’t believe that’s true.” She suggests using virtual try-on features or heading into your local store to (safely) try on lipsticks in order to find your perfect match.
How to make your lipstick last
Having long-lasting lipstick is extra important lately, as we’re all relying on longevity when lips are under face masks. There are formulas specifically designed for such a job, which are typically liquid formulas like Maybelline’s Super Stay Matte Ink or Chanel’s Le Rouge Duo Ultra Tenue that are designed to last through meals, masks and any task for up to 16 hours.
If you prefer a more standard lipstick formula, though, there are tips and tricks to make your creamy, hydrating lipstick much more long-lasting. For example, try using a lip liner in a similar shade to your lipstick to line and fill in lips completely. Then, apply the lipstick. Violette likes to put the pointed tip of the lipstick in front of your lips so you can get a better look at the application. After swiping on the lipstick, blot with a tissue, then reapply. You can blot and reapply a few more times for extra wear, too. For more staying power, matte formulas naturally have a more velvety opaque coverage that can last longer than other finishes.
To help shorten your search for the perfect lipstick, here are the 20 best lipsticks on the market right now, from red and pink to nude to deep plum (and every color in between).
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Cherries
Best Drugstore Lipstick
Revlon’s Super Lustrous lipstick in Cherries and Fire and Ice are two lip colors that have stood the test of time (according to the brand’s website, both shades are so popular, one of each is sold every four minutes across the U.S.). Available in over 50 shades and five finishes — including matte, crème, pearl, sheer and gloss — the lipstick offers high color payoff and wears comfortably, thanks to Vitamin E and avocado oil.
Violette FR Petal Bouche Matte Liquid Lipstick
Best Liquid Lipstick
French makeup artist Violette knows a thing or two about lipsticks, having served as Dior Beauty’s international makeup designer, Estée Lauder global beauty director and the current creative director of makeup at Guerlain. On top of all that, the Brooklyn-based artist created her eponymous makeup line in 2021, which includes this instant-classic liquid lipstick. The velvety formula is unlike any on the market right now, as it feels soft and comfortable on, is deeply pigmented and impressively long-wearing. Violette classifies the matte lipstick as “iconically French” and says she’s been perfecting the deep red rose shade of Petal Bouche for nearly two years.
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk
Best Nude Lipstick
When you think of Charlotte Tilbury, you probably think of her signature nude-pink lip shade Pillow Talk. In fact, according to the brand’s website, one Matte Revolution Pillow Talk lipstick is sold every two minutes. Launched to give all women what Tilbury calls “the most beautiful lips of your life,” the moisturizing formula smooths and shapes the pout for the appearance of softer, fuller and smoother lips. Available in two shades, Pillow Talk Original and Pillow Talk Medium, the formula features hyaluronic acid to keep lips hydrated, emollient oils to condition and Tilbury’s proprietary Magic Diamond Powder for a refractive, wet-look finish.
Mac Cosmetics Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo
Best Red Lipstick
Our list wouldn’t be complete without the leader of cult-status lipsticks, MAC, and its iconic Ruby Woo hue. The all-time bestselling lipstick features an intense, opaque color and a completely matte finish. It’s so popular, that Mac sells four Ruby Woo lipsticks per minute worldwide, according to its website. The iconic red shade was created in 1999 after an artist tweaked the tone of the brand’s Russian red formula to make it more universally flattering. (For another amazing red Mac lipstick, try the classic rouge hue from the brand’s Viva Glam line, sales of which have helped raise over $500 million to help people affected by HIV and AIDS since 1994.)
Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick
Best Long-Lasting Lipstick
Verena von Pfetten has ignited a growing cohort of Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink fans (“I have yet to recommend the product to someone who didn’t immediately become a convert,” she says). The Gossamer magazine co-founder has posted a series of photos and videos to Instagram of her wearing the matte lipstick stain, which appears to remain perfectly intact through numerous meals eaten, a day spent at the beach and even a hot yoga class. “I feel like I have spent the better part of my makeup-wearing life searching for the holy grail red lipstick combo of color and formulation,” she says. “I’ve bought and tried dozens — I honestly would be too scared to actually try and count — especially ones promoted as matte, long-wear formulas. And nothing, and I mean nothing, has the staying power and intensity of color of Maybelline’s Super Stay Matte Ink.”
As a rule of thumb, it’s good to ensure you apply the lipstick carefully, since once it’s on it’s likely not budging. Von Pfetten uses the lipstick application method that Violette has perfected for long-wear and liquid lipsticks: Applying the formula to the bottom lip first, creating an “X” pattern on your cupid’s bow (aka the top curvature of your lips) and then filling in the rest of your lips from there.
Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick
Best Matte Lipstick
Leave it to legend Pat McGrath to create a lipstick so richly pigmented that it saturates lips in deep opaque color in just a single swipe. The oil-infused powder matte formula was designed to create a romantic, soft-focus effect, while feeling perfectly comfortable, lightweight and creamy. The lipstick comes in 36 shades to choose from, with bestsellers being Elson (a fiery orange-red), Omi (a mauvey rose) and Divine Rose (a nude pink).
Fenty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored
Best Liquid Red Lipstick
This universal and rich red was hand-picked by Rihanna herself, and obsessively tested to ensure it looks incredible on everyone. Fenty Beauty’s soft matte pigment has 12 hours of hold, drying down to a weightless stain. “I wanted a lipstick that wouldn’t budge, even as you eat, even as you make out,” Rihanna said in a press release.
Dior Rouge Dior Lipstick
Best Timeless Lipstick
Rouge Dior shades remain just as classic as the original versions Monsieur Dior created over 60 years ago, but are now scientifically formulated to offer the ultimate balance of pigment and skin-friendly lip-care ingredients (not to mention come in eco-friendly packaging).
Two of the most popular shades are number 999, a classic crimson red that derives its triple 9s from the first two lipsticks launched by Dior — the 9 and 99 — and 100 Nude. 100 is a reinterpretation of the “greige” tone, a color created by Dior as the perfect blend of gray and beige for his 1947 “New Look” collection.
Nars Iconic Lipstick
Revolutionary artist Francois Nars has updated the formulas of Nars’ Iconic lipsticks to have more conditioning, lip-healing properties — but the shades are still just as bold and vibrant as ever. The lipsticks now feature a blend of moringa and passion fruit seed oils for an impossibly silky, lightweight and hydrating feel. Bestselling hues include Gipsy, a sheer berry finish, and Dolce Vita, a universally-flattering sheer dusty rose color.
Guerlain Rouge G Refillable Lipstick
Best Customizable Lipstick
If you’re more of a “choose your own adventure” type of person, this Guerlain customizable and refillable lipstick is precisely for you. Select from among 45 shades in three finishes, then pick your lipstick case (sold separately) from a vast array of fashionable styles (which are constantly being updated with new limited-edition options).
“Guerlain is really amazing, and I know I can sound biased because I work with them but I swear they have my favorite lipstick in a bullet formula,” Violette says. “Rouge G is the best matte lipstick in a bullet on the market to me, as the payoff is perfect and it’s so comfortable.”
Westman Atelier Lip Suede Lipstick Palette
Best Lipstick Palette
What’s better than one lipstick color? Endless lipstick color combinations, courtesy of Westman Atelier’s matte suede lipstick compact featuring four red-adjacent hues that can be all blended for custom creations. The vegan formulas are not only richly-pigmented, but also feature hydrating skincare ingredients that heal and smooth lips, including cold-pressed cherry oil (rich in Vitamin A and E), marula oil and collagen-boosting peptides. And with all things Westman Atelier, this formula is one of the cleanest on the market, free of silicones, parabens and phthalates.
Makeup by Mario Ultra Suede Lipstick
Also Consider Nude Lipstick
Well-known as Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic has stepped into the limelight with the launch of his own makeup line, Makeup by Mario. Dedivanovic has already created a handful of best-selling products, and his super-comfortable, soft-focus lipsticks are some of his most popular. The matte, suede-like lipsticks feature duo seed oil, which allows the formula to glide on impossibly easily and moisturize lips. Choose from 20 shades, specifically designed to flatter all skin tones.
Gucci Beauty Rouge de Beauté Brillant Glow & Care Shine Lipstick
Best Hydrating Lipstick
Since debuting last April, Gucci’s deeply hydrating lipstick has quickly become beloved in beauty circles. It delivers an unheard of 24 hours of moisture, similar to your favorite lip balm, but gives lipstick-level pigment and shine. It’s all thanks to the Rouge De Beauté Brillant formula, which has a combination of hyaluronic acid, black rose oil, jojoba seed oil and shea butter to deliver deep hydration while plumping and smoothing lips.
Since the lipstick comes in a 18 vibrant red, pink, coral, plum and nude tones, it can be hard to nail down your choice. But when it doubt, go with the bestselling shades: 204 Peggy Taupe for a taupe rosewood color (which is also one of the bestselling hues across the entire Gucci Beauty lipstick range), 214 Call It A Day for a brown-toned nude and 112 Sally Soft Honey for a dreamy rose nude.
Plus, the packaging is one-of-a-kind, inspired by Alessandro Michele’s unique collectibles. Complete with a distinct brooch-like pattern, this lipstick case pays homage to his affinity for vintage jewelry.
Tatcha Kyoto Red Silk Lipstick
Also Consider Red Lipstick
For famed makeup artist Daniel Martin, this universal red shade by Tatcha is the tube he always grabs. “I’ve been on a whirlwind press tour with Maggie Gyllenhaal for her movie ‘The Lost Daughter’ all of December, and for most of her TV appearances and red carpet, Tatcha’s Kyoto Red is perfect to dress up a fresh face for a no-makeup makeup look,” he says. The feather-light lipstick is formulated with silk extract and a handful of botanical extracts for a super-hydrating experience, too.
Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Lipstick
Best Satin-Finish Lipstick
Make Up For Ever has been making diverse, professional-grade products for nearly four decades, and this Rouge Artist lipstick is a fabulous example of the brand’s dedication to artistry and creativity. The ultra-pigmented, satin-finish lipstick has been lab-tested to deliver 24 hours of hydration, and the formula applies with the intensity of a matte but with the glide and comfort of a cream to instantly smooth and hydrate. And the packaging is particularly ingenious — remove the cap and attach it to the bottom of the tube for an ultra-precise effect that mimics that of a lip brush. The bestselling shades are all natural nudes, including 100 (a pale beige), 172 (a deep cool-toned rose) and 150 (pale pink).
YSL Beauty Rouge Volupte Shine Lipstick Balm in 44 Nude Lavalliere
Also Consider Hydrating Lipstick
Made with an impressive 65% essential oils, YSL Beauty’s deeply moisturizing formula will drench your lips in both hydration and color. According to the brand, after four weeks of continued application, tests have shown that users’ pouts looked healthier and more nourished. Try the product in popular Nude Lavalliere, a subtle shade of nude that’s universally flattering.
Victoria Beckham Beauty Posh Lipstick in Sway
Victoria Beckham calls this lipstick the most personal product she’s launched yet under her eponymous beauty line. “I’ve always felt a strong emotional connection to lipstick, and this collection personifies my journey to the woman I am today, celebrating every step along the way,” she said in a press release. No wonder Beckham loves this lipstick, as it offers deeply-pigmented, rich color, a blend of ultra-nourishing superfood ingredients and a clean, vegan formula.
Byredo Lipstick in Mad Red
Best Deep Red Lipstick
Not just a red, but an intense raspberry red with a matte finish, this formula delivers rich pigmentation with just a single swipe. “Byredo‘s dedication to creating a range of vegan products that have incredible pay-off, and are done in the most stylish packaging, make their lipsticks truly must-have items,” Rinaldi says. The bi-color metal curvilinear case is truly an object of art unto itself.
Chanel Le Rouge Duo Ultra Tenue Liquid Lipstick in Soft Rose
One of Chanel’s bestselling lipsticks, this Le Rouge Duo Ultra Tenue is entirely transfer-resistant. Choose from eight shades, including ultra-popular Soft Rose, and apply the saturated, full-coverage color on lips, allowing it to dry fully (which should take only a few seconds). Then, apply the glossy top coat for long-lasting comfort and shine. And voila, lipstick that actually lasts all night long.
Hermes Rouge Hermes in Rouge Orange
Best Lipstick for Darker Skin Tones
With packaging designed by Pierre Hardy, Hermes’ lipsticks are functional pieces of art. The Rouge Orange shade, in particular, has taken off recently with TikTok users. The fiery vermilion and scarlet hue with a velvet, powdery finish is trending due to its flattering shade, especially for darker skin tones. Plus, the packaging is endlessly refillable, so swipe on to your heart’s content, then just refill when needed.
How long is lipstick good for?
Before you add any new lipsticks to your vanity, double check that the lipsticks you’ve already got at home are still usable. “A good rule of thumb is that lipstick lasts about a year from first use,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Rachel Maiman. “The reason lipsticks do tend to go bad eventually, however, is that although they’re formulated with preservatives such as parabens, essential oils and vitamins, these naturally break down after a year.”
A reduction of vibrancy, change in texture, any beading of moisture or malodor are all signs that your lipstick is past its expiration date, Dr. Maiman says. If expired lipstick is used, you’re potentially playing with fire. “Firstly, expired makeup can harbor bacteria that have the potential to induce acne and acne-like reactions on the skin around the lips,” she says. “Furthermore, molecules in the product break down over time (hence the changes in texture and color that herald expiration), which have the potential to be irritating and trigger a myriad of inflammatory reactions, from eczema to overt lip swelling. This is especially true of lipsticks, because the lips are much more prone to irritation at baseline, owing to them being thin and lacking sebaceous (oil) glands.”
Info on how to remove your lipstick
The catch-22 of a long-wearing lipstick is that it can be almost too long-wearing. At the end of the day, removing matte or long-lasting lipstick can be a difficult task — and if the removal process isn’t gentle enough, you’ll risk damaging the sensitive lip area. However, there are a few tricks you can use to avoid this.
Both Violette and Brown apply an oil-based cleanser, either on a face cloth or just a finger, and massage into lips to loosen pigment. “The key in using oil cleanser to break down lip color is to take your time,” Brown says. “Massage slowly to let the oil work so lip color glides off with a tissue. The less abrasive action you take with lip color removal is always best.” Tissue off lips and then double cleanse the face to completely remove all makeup.
On the other hand, Rinaldi prefers to use an everyday kitchen staple for lipstick removal: coconut oil. “It’s completely natural and the fastest way to remove any makeup at the end of the day,” she says. “Plus, it tastes great.”
Dr. Maiman is a fan of using Aquaphor to gently remove lipstick while hydrating the skin. Apply a small amount of ointment on lips and let it sit for one to two minutes, then massage lipstick off with a small amount of micellar water on a soft cotton round, wiping gently until all residue is removed.
Once you’ve removed your lipstick, do some lip triage by hydrating lips with a deep overnight lip mask. There are a few options that are beloved, including Tatcha’s Kissu Lip Mask (filled with squalane and Japanese peach for nightly repair) and Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask (packed with ceramides and lipids) — both of which help retain moisture and optimize barrier function. When in doubt, grab Vaseline or Aquaphor for an overnight treatment. “Petrolatum, the main ingredient in both products, acts as a semi-occlusive barrier to transepidermal water loss, meaning it works to prevent already dehydrated, chapped lips by holding onto water,” Dr. Maiman says.
If dry, flaky lips are preventing your lipstick from looking perfect, consider a lip scrub, Dr. Maiman says. The Fresh Sugar Lip Polish is her absolute favorite, particularly for its thick consistency that melts into a gentle exfoliating paste that buffs away dry skin. “Not only are sugar crystals an optimal choice because they possess natural humectant properties, but they’re also natural granules that do not have the detrimental environmental impact of artificial microbeads,” she says. “Plus, they’re small enough and minimally abrasive such that they don’t cause potentially harmful microtears, as can occur with the use of crushed shells, like walnut and apricot pits.” In addition to brown sugar crystals, this polish also contains nourishing shea butter and jojoba oil to lock in moisture post-buffing.
In the mood to DIY? Dr. Maiman suggests recreating your own hydrating formula at home by mixing half a teaspoon of shea butter with two teaspoons of brown sugar and two to three drops of jojoba oil. Massage on when needed, wipe off and then hydrate with a thick balm for soft lips ready for a new application of your favorite lipstick.