Best Cheap Lipstick

If you're in the market for a new lipstick -- maybe yours has run out, failed to live up to expectations, or you just want a change of color -- there's a staggering array of cheap lipsticks to choose among. Will you go for a matte or cream lipstick? What about a gloss? Perhaps you're searching for a lipstick that's earth friendly and all natural. Maybe you're in need of an application for a special event -- a wedding, say, or a day at the beach. One thing you don't have to spend much time weighing is price. Why? Because cheap lipsticks -- the drugstore varieties that sell for as little as $1.50 and top out at $10 -- perform just as well as or better than high-end brands that can hit the $50 mark.

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Our Top Pick

Cream Lipsticks
Our Picks
Cream Lipsticks

Cream (a.k.a. creme) lipsticks are the most common and cheapest of the lipstick formulas, and cream lipsticks reviews reflect that. When commenting about our best cheap cream lipsticks picks -- Revlon Super Lustrous (starting at $4.74, Amazon) and Maybelline ColorSensational Vivids Lipcolor (starting at $5.50, Amazon) -- consumers gush about the wild array of colors, the smooth texture, the moisturizing effect, the longevity once applied, and the compliments they receive. Price, for many users, also proves to be a big selling point. We read quite a few cream lipsticks reviews extolling the virtues of these budget beauty products over the high-priced alternatives that users have tried and found wanting. A budget lipstick many also are steering clear of is Maybelline SuperStay 14(hr) Lipstick (starting at $7.51, Amazon). The "superstay" claim of this Maybelline lip product holds for some users, but a large minority attests to the color's disappearance well before the appointed hour.

The show of enthusiasm for Revlon Super Lustrous, nicknamed The Classic by Real Simple Magazine, is strong. At Target, for example, one reviewer says the product is saturated with color and requires just one layer, which keeps application fast and easy. Other cream lipsticks reviews assert Super Lustrous Creme stays on all day, through meals and liquid breaks, and is easy to wash off. This lip product also garners a crush of support at Ulta, where the majority of users rave about "just right" colors that pop and last. This cheap cream lipstick is available in dozens of shades, from Mink to Luminous Pink.

Color options for Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids Lipcolor are limited to 10, but users seem thrilled with the choices and the intensity of the pigment. At the company site several woman who confess to rarely using lipstick admit being enticed by the colors in this line and commend the overall look. And one makeup professional who posted a cream lipsticks review at Walmart says she bought up all the shades to keep in her kits. Users also note that Maybelline's Vivids Lipcolor keeps lips moist and doesn't bleed or require lip liner to hold it in place.

Another Maybelline product, SuperStay 14(hr) Lipstick, garners a mixed reception from wearers. About half the 260-odd cream lipsticks reviews posted at Ulta attest to its staying power, but about one-third report otherwise. Even at Maybelline's website, where it earns barely an average rating, users grouse that SuperStay doesn't live up to its 14-hour marketing claims; a few assert it wears off in less than an hour and many report needing to reapply after a couple of hours even without having eaten or kissed in the meantime. Still, opinion about the color options -- this cheap cream lipstick comes in 20 shades -- and the depth of the pigment is largely positive.

Cream lipstick, often referred to simply as lipstick, is sold just about everywhere. Creams offer the widest array of colors, but certain shades are identified with a specific era. Early film stars and entertainers popularized dark red throughout the first half of the 20th century. As eye makeup came to the fore during the 1960s, beauty companies started producing softer lip shades, such as pink. A decade later the shelves were lined with colors like nude, purple, and black. Through it all, red has maintained its popularity and these days bright, bold colors are in high demand.

Sometimes called satin or frosted because of the resulting sheen, cream lipsticks are relatively thick and waxy and more moisturizing than their matte counterparts. The intensity of color depends on the finish (satin or frosted), with frosteds clustering at the lighter end of the spectrum. In terms of staying power, cheap cream lipsticks hold the middle ground -- they last longer than inexpensive sheers and glosses but fall short of the budget mattes. The balance between full, rich color and moist comfort is one reason creams are so popular.

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Our reading of matte lipsticks reviews verifies that consumers are eager for, and generally impressed with, the color variety, pigment intensity, quality, and price of the products that made our list. Scores of users give two thumbs up to Revlon Super Lustrous Matte (starting at $4.97, Amazon) and NYX Matte Lipstick (starting at $5.99, Amazon), although some users of each are disaffected with their drying properties. E.l.f. Studio Matte Lip Color (starting at $4.50, Amazon) is a cheap matte lipstick with a frustrating design -- the pencil-like shape is prone to breaking, according to reviewers. Decent color and staying power don't compensate for that irritation.

Revlon's Matte Lipstick is part of the Super Lustrous line and available in seven shades, which seems sufficient for dozens of wearers even as a few hanker for more options. Really Red and Pink Pout garner particular notice in matte lipsticks reviews at sites like and Walgreens. Many users note that this line of cheap lip colors doesn't bleed and lasts quite a while; one reviewer simply says it makes her lips look better. But as with matte lipsticks in general, some reviews assert that Revlon Matte is drying, prompting some to suggest mitigations like smoothing on lip balm first or applying clear gloss after application.

We found a similar range of comments for NYX Matte Lipstick, a line that includes 22 shades such as Nude, Tea Rose, and Euro Trash. Wearers who bought a full pack thrill to the variety, the rich pigments, and the durability on the lips, according to matte lipsticks reviews at Amazon. At Beautylish users write that colors have punch and pop, and while the smooth texture appeals to many, one reviewer cast it aside because of the patchy feeling upon application. Not unexpectedly, some reviews comment on the drying effect -- users suggest antidotes such as a coconut lip balm undercoat -- although others find this cheap matte lipstick less drying than others. Several reviewers say they have forsaken higher-priced brands in favor of NYX.

One cheap semi-matte lipstick that falls just short of making our list, Iman Luxury Moisturing Lipstick (starting at $10), gets credit in matte lipsticks reviews at sites like Ulta and Amazon for its creamy and hydrating feel -- an unusual comment about a matte lip color. Users also report that it glides on smoothly and has staying power, although one cautions that it easily transfers to clothing and teeth. Reviewers say the 13 shades, ranging from Black Brandy to Paprika to Teak, go well with darker skin tones.

E.l.f. Studio Matte Lip Color is less undermined by its performance than by the packaging, according to matte lipsticks reviews. Comments posted at several sites, including Makeup Alley and Eyes Lips Face (E.l.f.), indicate the product can be drying, but others counter that drying goes with the matte territory and some even assert E.l.f. Studio Matte is moister than others. Many laud the richly pigmented colors (available in six shades) and the staying power while many others report it feels cakey or waxy and shows off every crack in wearers' lips. But it's the packaging that takes the most heat in reviews. The major gripe is the pencil-like shape, which some say makes this more lip liner than lipstick and quite a few say breaks easily. While the budget price may be enticing, the potential disappointment of a damaged product is a real turnoff.

Affordable matte lipsticks deliver saturated color, last for hours, and are easy to find. A matte (flat) finish lacks luster but is "in" right now, embraced by celebrities, makeup artists, beauty bloggers, and the fashion-forward. The opposite of gloss and shine, matte lipsticks provide deep color -- reds, oranges, and pinks -- but the palette is more limited than what's available in the cream formula. Mattes are perfect for a lunch date with friends or a job interview, as they offer the right amount of color without overwhelming.

On the other hand, matte lipsticks are among the least moisturizing. Matte lipsticks don't only look dry, they feel dry. As matte lipsticks reviews point out, it's important to keep lips well hydrated, and a layer of colorless lip butter or light gloss can help. Another potential strike against mattes is that they tend to be pricey; matte lip color by Clinique and NARS, for example, will lighten your wallet by as much as $20. But manufacturers are hip to market trends and are responding with an increasing range of colors and some cheaper products.

Gloss Lipsticks

Consumers who posted gloss lipsticks reviews of the best cheap versions sing their praises. Users say most glosses fulfill a critical function: They provide hydrating shine. Not all consumers who posted reviews agree that the shine lasts, however. Indeed, the right metrics for cheap lip gloss are longevity and formula consistency, not shine factor, and by that measure, CoverGirl Wetslicks Fruit Spritzers (starting at $4.74, Amazon) and Neutrogena MoistureShine Lip Soother SPF 20 (starting at $5.97, Amazon) earn berths in our list of top picks. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Maybelline SuperStay 10(hr) Stain Gloss (starting at $5.79, Amazon). This "superstay" gloss wins points for the 10 available colors but garners demerits for for failing to meet its own 10-hour standard and for the wand-like applicator.

Hundreds (seriously) of users coo about the moisturizing quality, subtle tint, and modest shimmer of CoverGirl Wetslicks Fruit Spritzers in reviews at Covergirl's site. Wetslicks Fruit Spritzers also score for not being sticky, although some lip gloss reviews at Makeup Alley say it can be greasy and has a tendency to separate in the plastic tube (user tip: massage gently to recombine). A few gloss lipsticks reviews note it may bleed a bit, post application, in warm weather while others report it lasts longer than expected. The smell and flavor please the majority even as a minority finds both decidedly artificial. This cheap lip gloss is made with "botanical" ingredients and comes in 12 shades, including Caramel Apple, Plum Splash, and Lychee Splash.

The holder of second place on our list of best cheap lip gloss, MoistureShine Lip Soother SPF 20 from Neutrogena, garners qualified acclaim. Gloss lipsticks reviews at Walmart say the fragrance is pleasant, the texture is smooth without being goopy, and the hydrating effect leaves lips moist and soft. Users report one application lasts a long time, doesn't bleed, and looks way better than lip balm; some even apply it atop regular lipstick for an extra touch of shine. The sun protection that comes from the SPF 20 is a welcome feature, and one reason for MoistureShine Lip Soother's appearance on our list, but the minimal pigment in the nine available shades leaves users pretty cool. On sites like Ulta and Makeup Alley some wearers grouse about what they consider excessively sheer hues -- hard to tell the difference among the nine shades, they say. But for seekers of long-lasting shimmer and soothing moisture, this is the product to buy.

One cheap lip gloss that users would just as soon dump is Maybelline Super Stay 10(hr) Stain Gloss. The rap against this product, clearly evident in gloss lipsticks reviews on the Maybelline's site and at Amazon is the overblown marketing claims to 10 hours of staying power. Users like the 10 shades and the color on their lips but say the vibrancy fades quickly, sometimes in a matter of minutes and sometimes after several hours despite no intake of food or drink. The wand-like applicator with a small, elongated ring at the end also gets zapped in user reviews.

Gloss lipsticks go on quickly, give great shine, and keep lips soft and smooth. They are not the product to choose if saturated color is your style even though they come in distinct tints and shades. Nor should you expect cheap (or pricey) gloss lipstick to last all day; their staying power ranks behind the mattes and creams. The consistency is thinner than these other formulas and only a light layer is needed; too much gloss can bleed outside the lip line and make lips lose definition and appear wet. Gloss can be used on its own or applied over fully pigmented lipstick for added sheen. Many lip gloss products contain hydrating ingredients and some, like the Neutrogena MoistureShine, also contain sunscreen (SPF).

Glosses made their appearance in the beauty world more than two decades ago and are produced by most makeup manufacturers. The first glosses were almost always sheer, but now many are tinted in shades of red, pink, and brown. Unlike other lip products, except for lip balms, glosses often come in different flavors, such as strawberry, peach, watermelon, and guava. If you're searching for a gloss to wear on a regular basis or as a top-coat, rest assured you'll find a good cheap one.

Natural Lipsticks

Chemical-free lipsticks typically are pricier than traditional lip products and less widely available, but natural lipsticks reviews indicate that determined consumers can find a few good budget options. The average price of natural or organic lipstick hovers around $20, which is more than double the price of our picks for the best cheap lipsticks, but we found one product that hits the mark with users and perches comfortably in our price zone: Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer Stick (starting at $4.99, Amazon). Reviews also led us to Badger Lip Tint & Shimmer (starting at $5.39, Amazon). Reviewers like the organic formula and hydrating effect but are turned off by the smell and taste of this low-cost product. It repels enough users to sink its standing on our list.

Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer Stick, a veteran player in the natural cosmetics market, claims legions of fans. Users of the Fig shade who posted natural lipsticks reviews at rave about the color, saying it looks natural on their lips, has a pleasant rather than sticky feel, and isn't drying. Similarly enthusiastic comments at Amazon note the modest shimmer and subtle color, the hydrating effect, and the moderate staying power. Some reviewers report a slight tingle when applied, and while many seem OK with that, a few find it irksome but tolerate it in the service of the natural formula. Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer Stick contains beeswax, sunflower and coconut oils, vitamin E, and peppermint flavor, and the current 12-color lineup bears names like Peony, Champagne, Rhubarb and Raisin; Cocoa has apparently been discontinued and scores of reviews posted at the company site are filled with pleas to bring it back.

Juice Beauty Purely Kissable Lip Color (starting at $16, Amazon) soars beyond the cheap price ceiling but merits a mention because of solid customer support. Natural lipsticks reviews posted at Birchbox and Ulta the welcome hydrating effect, natural flavor and scent, and nonirritating toxic-free formula. (Purely Kissable Lip Color is made with certified organic passion fruit, champagne grape seeds, acai and goji berries, shea and cocoa butters, and sunflower oil.) For good measure users applaud a container they say is eco-friendly. What some users aren't wild about is the single pinkish shade (supposedly a match for anyone -- but not really, grumble the disappointed) and the need for frequent reapplication.

Another cheap natural lipstick, Badger Lip Tint & Shimmer, wins only mild support in reviews at iHerb and Ulta. In the positive column, users check off attributes such as organic ingredients, natural-looking color once applied, adequate hydration, and two-in-one packaging with lip tint at one end and shimmer at the other. In the negative column reviewers note down off-putting smell and taste (like plain oatmeal, grouses one natural lipsticks review) and colors that aren't true to the marketing visuals. This Badger lip product contains 94 percent organic ingredients, including extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, castor oil, aloe extract, rosemary, rosehip, and seabuckthorn, and comes in four shades -- Copper, Garnet, Red Jasper, and Rose Tourmaline.

Natural beauty products are still relatively new and mainly sold by specialized vendors. The USDA sets strict guidelines for use of the term "organic" in marketing materials, and these rules relate to the way in which the agricultural ingredients are produced, handled, and processed. Not surprisingly, lip products that satisfy these standards are few in number and relatively costly. So if you can't locate a lipstick bearing the USDA's organic imprimatur or blanch at the price, look for a lipstick that contains natural, non-chemical ingredients. There are several affordable choices, but be prepared to hunt around.

Buying Guide

Cheap Lipstick Buying Guide

Expensive lip colors are much like designer clothes: The name behind the product contributes to its stratospheric price, not necessarily to its quality or practicality.

There are several formula categories within the lipstick market. We settled on four -- cream (or creme), matte, gloss, and natural -- and identified products in each that deserve a best cheap lipstick label. Among cream lipsticks, we like Revlon Super Lustrous and Maybelline ColorSensational Vivids Lipcolor for their texture and hydrating qualities. The best cheap matte lipsticks are Revlon Super Lustrous Matte and NYX Matte, both boasting intense pigments and attractive price points. In the gloss lipsticks category we picked CoverGirl Wetslicks Fruits Spritzers and Neutrogena MoistureShine Lip Soother SPF 20 for their moisturizing effect and consistency, and in the case of the latter, its sun-protecting component. Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer Stick is the best cheap natural lipstick owing to its ingredients, balm-like feel, and subtle coloration.

Additionally, we spotted cheap lipsticks representing each of the four formulas that garner enough negative comments to wipe them off our list of picks. Maybelline SuperStay 14(hr) Lipstick is a cream lip product that apparently doesn't last the advertised duration. E.l.f. Studio Matte Lip Color suffers for its fragile, slim shape. Maybelline New York SuperStay 10(hr) Stain Gloss struggles with the same flaw as its 14-hour counterpart. And Badger Lip Tint & Shimmer is tarred by an unpleasant taste and smell.

Of course, users' assessments of cheap lipsticks are highly subjective. Whereas a clear majority of reviews (and they can number in the hundreds) might laud the look, feel, and staying power of a particular lip product, our research inevitably spotted naysayers who insist the color fades quickly, the lipstick doesn't apply evenly, the consistency is greasy or chalky, the taste is off-putting, etc. We also read a lot of critical comments from consumers who just didn't like the shade they had chosen, sometimes saying the mistake was due to misleading hues on the cap or in the online display, but we did not factor these into our assessments.

Each lipstick formula has strengths and weaknesses, and users often gravitate to one as their daily go-to product but sometimes choose something different to suit a specific function. Mattes are intensely pigmented but somewhat drying, and generally the lipstick of choice when aiming for the fresh-faced look suitable to a work setting. Creams are also rich but more varied in color, shinier, and more hydrating, and perfect for a night on the town. Glosses are light on the lips and subtle in tint, with a faint shine, and do well in informal settings. Natural lipsticks are just the thing for anyone trying to avoid lip products containing chemicals.

The primary purveyors of low-cost lip colors include Revlon, Maybelline, CoverGirl, Rimmel, Wet n Wild, and NYC. Others, such as NYX and L'Oreal, stake a smaller claim at this end of the market. Upmarket producers, like Lancome, Clinique, and Estee Lauder, duke it out against niche labels and those from well-known fashion houses such as Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.

Makeup preferences are always evolving. While barely-there glosses are a staple lip product on beauty shelves, for example, they have been losing out to the trendier "bold is more" of the mattes and creams. Natural/organic, a relatively new lipstick breed, is also gaining ground as more consumers become eco- and health-conscious. By the way, healthcare professionals note that lip products can protect against sun damage, and some glosses and lipsticks now incorporate a bit of sunscreen, as does one of our top picks, Neutrogena MoistureShine Lip Soother SPF 20.

Popular fashion and beauty magazines sometimes up the ante on lipstick buying. Lip products featured in the media are often celebrity-endorsed, with prices to match. Of course, celebrities spend top dollar on beauty products and often rely on a professional to do the application. Considering that many lipstick users have self-taught application technique, a cheaper lipstick is more than adequate. So unless you're a professional, designer lip products just aren't worth the investment. One of the best cheap lipsticks will do you proud.