Picking the right lipstick

Matte lipsticks generally last longer than other formulas but are more drying. Creams and sheers provide more moisture but are more likely to bleed and feather. Long-lasting lipstick formulas use a liquid stain that lasts for hours, topped with a clear gloss for moisture and color protection. Glosses and balms are generally more hydrating than lipstick but require frequent application.

Reviewers say the following about lipsticks:

  • A higher price does not necessarily equal better quality. There are just as many well-formulated lipsticks at the drugstore as there are at the department store. In fact, many are made by the same parent company.
  • Identifying the perfect shade requires experimentation. You can find "the one" by applying a sample to one side of your lips. The best shade for you will usually be the same tone as your natural lip color, only slightly deeper.
  • There is a red lipstick for everyone! It may take a bit of experimentation, but experts say that is best to match lipstick to your skin tone. Warm skin tones can wear warm brownish reds while cool skin tones should stick with cooler reds. Neutrals can go either direction. If in doubt, consult with a beauty advisor at the cosmetics counter.
  • Some shades can make your teeth appear whiter. Look for shades with a blue undertone if you want to camouflage yellow teeth.
  • Soft, smooth lips are the best base for lipstick. Regular exfoliation and lip balm use will keep your lips in tip-top shape. Experts recommend exfoliating at least once a week by rubbing a damp washcloth over your lips in a circular motion. Look for a soothing balm with shea butter, beeswax or petrolatum and use it daily. See our lip balm report for product suggestions.
  • Stick with mattes or long-lasting lipstick formulas if you have wrinkles around your lips. Yes, they are drying, but they are the least likely formulas to feather and bleed into surrounding wrinkles.
  • Lip liner helps color stay put and last longer. Coloring lips with lip liner in a shade similar to your natural color will help lipstick last longer and prevent feathering.

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