Lipsticks may have suffered a bit of a setback in terms of popularity somewhere around the early 2000s (we’re looking at you, Juicy Tubes), but its resurgence in recent years has seen an explosion of colours and finishes hit the beauty counters and pharmacy shelves, and we, for one, couldn’t be happier about it.
But if you’re a relative newcomer to the lips-a-poppin’ game, that can make it difficult to know where to start, let alone find the best lipstick for you.
The trickiest shade to nail is undoubtedly nude — understandably, as it varies based on your skin tone, not just fair, light, medium, olive or dark, but cool or warm too. When in doubt, if you have cool-toned skin, you can afford to go for something a little more on the beige side that might look ashy on warmer tones. If you’re warm, go for something with more peachy or golden tones. The same goes for reds: if cool, a ruby-esque blue-based red is sure to be your next best friend; if warm, something more orange is sure to fit the bill.
Then there’s the finish. Satin, semi-glossy or semi-sheer lipsticks look light and fresh as part of a natural makeup look for daytime or the office, while on-trend matte lipsticks are ideal for a bolder look, either in creamy opaque nude to offset a smoky eye or bright, punchy, saturated shades with a bare face and lashings of mascara.
Luckily, we’ve already selected our cream of the crop from across the shops, with highly-rated formulations and to-die-for colours, so keep reading below to find your next perfect match.
1. MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Creme in your Coffee
You’ve heard about Michael Sheen and Charlie Sheen, but what about Cremesheen?
Best for: A creamy lipstick with a semi-glossy finish | Size: 3g | Type: Lipstick | Shades Available: 33+
Matte might be the finish du jour, but there really is something to be said for a good satin-finish lipstick — and MAC’s Cremesheen is a great satin-finish lipstick. Reviewers say Creme in your Coffee is a fabulous ‘my lips but better’ colour for medium skin tones, but it takes our top spot for being suitable for pretty much anyone. A medium-dark pinkish brown, it’s an ideal everyday colour for those who like a little more colour or are nervous of the ‘concealer lips’ effect of some nudes.
2. Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Very Victoria
A matte lipstick with a royal seal of approval
Best for: A matte finish | Size: 3.5g | Type: Lipstick | Shades Available: 14+
Reviewers have gone so far as to say this is the perfect nude — high praise indeed, but we can see why it would be a contender. Meghan Markle’s a fan, and so are the legions of happy users who’ve found the formulation to be long-lasting without drying, the holy grail combination when it comes to shopping for matte lipsticks. Very Victoria is modeled on the first lady of British fashion Victoria Beckham herself, so to nail that elegant nude-lipped look, you need look no further.
3. Stila All Day Liquid Lipstick in Bacca
The berry lip, perfected
Best for: A liquid lipstick | Size: 3ml | Type: Liquid Lipstick | Shades Available: 32+
Slay all day with this longwear lipstick from Stila. It glides on like a gloss but dries down like a lipstick to a matte finish that stays put all day long, at least according to the reviewers who’ve put it through its paces. There are over thirty shades to choose from, from intense bright oranges and cool-toned purples to gorgeous, perfectly opaque pale pinks, but our pick of them all is Bacca, an amazing blue-based red that borders on magenta.
4. Clinique Pop Matte Lip Colour & Primer in Blushing Pop
For an ultra-comfortable pop of colour
Best for: Pigment and colour | Size: 4g | Type: Lipstick and Primer | Shades Available: 13+
For a matte look without the weight or thickness, leave it to Clinique to come up with a lip-comfy formula. Clinique Pop lipsticks are a colour and primer in one easy step, creating a smoother surface to make that colour really… well, pop! Reviewers found these lippies didn’t accentuate any dryness or lines on their lips, felt hydrating, and didn’t look ‘flat’ as many mattes can. We love the colour Blushing Pop for a perfect finish nude, but users noted it turned up browner for some and pinker for others, so be aware of your own tone before you buy.
5. Nars Powermatte Lip Pigment in Get it On
Light and creamy with an even wear
Best for: A lightweight lip colour | Size: 5.5ml | Type: Liquid | Shades Available: 20+
Liquid lipstick is a great go-to for long-lasting colour, but if you don’t like the lacquered effect, this Nars lipstick is a fabulous alternative that dries to a matte finish. Users have found that, unlike many ultra-pigmented matte liquid lipsticks of its ilk, Nars Powermatte doesn’t feel super drying on the lips, and as it leaves a stain, it won’t wear off in patches after eating or drinking and look odd. Some found that certain shades did oxidise slightly on the lips, leaving a darker shade than expected, so that might be something to bear in mind if the swatch is your perfect nude.
6. Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour in Pirate
Finally we can live out all those swashbuckling piratical fantasies — no? Just us?
Best for: Vibrancy | Size: 3.5g | Type: Lipstick | Shades Available: 22+
Even if you’re not swayed by the cool name of Chanel’s Rouge Allure lipstick in Pirate, you’re sure to be enticed by the colour. Applied in a light wash, it’s an incredible blue-toned red that teeters on the edge of dark pink, slightly closer to a true red when applied with gusto, and wears down to a beautiful ruby stain. Reviewers say it wears comfortably for around three hours and stays wonderfully satiny, too. And then there’s the packaging: in gorgeous black and gold, with a surprisingly satisfying clicky bottom, and an engraved bullet, it’s a little luxury in every way.
7. Tom Ford Lip Colour in Casablanca
Here’s looking at you, Tom
Best for: A smooth application | Size: 3g | Type: Lipstick | Shades Available: 68+
This might not have been the exact shade Ingrid Bergman rocked in the 1940s classic, but it’s sure to give any #FOTD a dose of old Hollywood glamour all the same. This Tom Ford lipstick uses sumptuously moisturising ingredients like murumuru butter and chamomilla flower oil to create a creamy texture, making for a just-right consistency and even application that reviewers loved. When it comes to the colour, this might just be the perfect pink for night and day — for an alternative to nude for daytime, or a less dramatic evening look, why not try this rosy plum on for size?
8. YSL Tatouage Couture Matte Stain in Rouge Tatouage
Stays put, stays gorgeous
Best for: A red, long lasting | Size: 6ml | Type: Liquid | Shades Available: 23+
A red lip can be famously high-maintenance, but with the range of long-lasting lipsticks and lip stains on the beauty counters right now, it needn’t be a problem. This YSL lipstick is our pick of the bunch because according to reviewers, it’s positively bulletproof, but not drying or uncomfortable on the lips — far from it in fact! One lipstick lover said it “goes on like silk” and found there was no unsightly clumping or need to re-apply. If you’re looking for a red lipstick with loads of longevity that’ll take you from the 7am train to 9pm drinks, this one comes highly recommended.