The lovechild of a highly pigmented lipstick and an easy-gliding gloss, liquid lipstick has taken the beauty industry by storm. They come in both vibrant and soft shades with matte and satiny finishes, are typically easy to apply, and are more difficult to smudge (that's a good thing!). But which ones outperform the rest? We tested them to find out.
After evaluating more than 60 liquid lipsticks based on pigment and transparency, the GolfHr Institute Beauty Lab narrowed them down to a dozen for additional consumer and lab tests. A panel of 12 testers came to our lab twice a day for 12 days to test all 12 products — we're sensing a theme here — for comparison, using one per day. Each tested liquid lipstick was either a red or neutral shade, and was rated for ease of application, smear resistance, longevity and vibrancy. To evaluate product transfer from one surface to another, testers were asked to sip a hot drink while wearing freshly applied lipstick. We took digital images (using the Visia Complexion Analyzer) of our panelists after they applied their products, then after they sipped their coffee or tea, and then again after 5 hours of wear. After collecting and assessing 432 digital images, 144 cup lids and tallying 1,008 questions, this is what we found.
In our test, this was hands-down the longest-lasting liquid lipstick. Almost spotless coffee cup lids further vouched for its non-transference properties, and testers rated it above the rest for going on easily, not smearing and staying vibrant. One tester couldn't hold her enthusiasm back and declared it her "favorite new lipstick!"
Available in 40 shades
This lipstick won our testers' vote for its smooth and precise application, and was named our runner up in that it didn't feather right after application. In our tests, it received the second-best score for not leaving coffee lids covered in pigment, but some testers found that the vibrant matte look left their lips dry.
Available in 24 shades
Due to its whipped, smooth consistency, Bare Minerals Gen Nude offered a soft suede look and was comfortable to wear. In the lab, it didn't last as long as its competitors, but consumers thought it was the best at not drying lips or feathering throughout the day. However, some found its "chocolate powder" scent unappealing.
Available in 20 shades
Clinique's satiny, creamy formula was hydrating and non-irritating according to consumers, but they thought that it lacked longevity. Testers loved the vibrancy of its colors, but noted that it "didn't disappear evenly," which could lead to patchy or uneven coverage over time.
Available in 8 shades
This product received high marks for not leaving any pigment on our coffee cup lids. However, consumers found it to be the most drying immediately after application of all the products tested and reported that this drying feeling lasted throughout the day.
Available in 35 shades
This MAC liquid lipstick scored well for maintaining vibrant color after a sip of a hot drink. It achieved an almost perfect score in not transferring pigment to a coffee cup lid, and also for not smearing after the initial application. Some testers thought the color did not look the same as it did in the tube, however, and found the applicator not as easy to use.
Available in 32 shades
Chanel performed well by not leaving marks on a coffee cup lid after sipping a hot drink, but our lab tests indicated that it didn't stay put after five hours of wear. However, contrary to our lab results, consumers thought their lips looked and felt smooth throughout the day.
Available in 12 shades
According to testers, Victoria's Secret Velvet Matte Cream Lip Stain was the best at not drying lips throughout the day, but alas, it didn't last long, and it noticeably feathered.
Available in 15 shades
Testers loved the applicator of this liquid lipstick, as well as the vibrancy of its color, but lab tests showed that it didn't last five hours and it smudged. Some testers also thought the formula "wore off easily" and was "streaky."
Available in 10 shades
Even though it didn't stay put, testers liked the "satiny" shades and hydrating properties of this liquid lipstick. Some found the amount of product on the applicator tip was "difficult to control by squeezing the tube" and didn't like that they wasted the product in the process.
Available in 12 shades
Although non-drying — even hydrating — testers found Vivid Matte to smear the most and wished the shades were, well, more vivid. Some reported that it had a distinct, perfume-y scent that they didn't care for.
Available in 20 shades
Our lab evaluation ranked this lipstick last for its transfer performance, and testers found it the most difficult to apply. Many commented on its unusual packaging but didn't appreciate that the product was hard to dispense and that it went on "patchy." Some liked its "creamy" texture and found it comfortable to wear.
Available in 16 shades