Finding the perfect, flattering shade and creamy, not-too-glossy finish isn’t much use if your lipstick wears off after one drink or a long commute to work.
We’ve tested more than 30 formulas to find lipsticks that stay put through eating, drinking and even a cheeky kiss.
Most long-lasting lipsticks claim to stay put somewhere between eight and 14 hours, but as a product's staying power depends rather a lot on what you get up to in that time, we settled on the rather more practical test of how well each lipstick stayed put through two meals.
We looked at how often a product required touch-ups, particularly where your lips meet, how much they transferred on to mugs or glasses, and whether they crumbled, bled or smudged.
The majority of these formulas are liquid lipsticks, which go on thin but dry to a matte, strong-hold finish, but we’ve also included some traditional bullet lipsticks if that’s more your thing.
We recommend applying balm underneath five minutes before application as long-lasting formulas can be drying, and while not all these lipsticks require liner to prevent bleeding, it can never hurt to apply it. Remove with a oil-based cleanser and a face cloth.
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Chanel rouge allure ink in true red: £31, John Lewis & Partners
Rouge allure ink is a liquid lipstick goes on thin and glossy but dries to a perfect matte finish. It doesn’t settle into creases and doesn’t bleed, even without lip liner. We found it lasted beautifully through two meals, though you might want to touch it up a little in the centre of your lips. “True red” is just that – a perfect, flattering bus red.
Nars powermatte lip pigment in get up stand up: £23, Nars
We love Nars’ “get up stand up” as a fresh alternative to a red lip: it’s a bright pink – not too red, not too purple; bold and flattering. It’s a liquid formula with a dainty applicator that makes precise fine lines easy, and it stayed put throughout an evening meal and drinks after.
Fenty Beauty stunna lip paint in unbutton: £20, Harvey Nichols
We love the dramatic-looking packaging of Fenty’s stunna lip paint, with its octagonal, tapered bottle, and the applicator is unusually short and stubby but, it turns out, the perfect shape for intuitive, easy application. It’s a liquid lipstick that dries to a non-cakey, feather-weight satin finish and doesn’t budge. We like “unbutton”, a taupe nude.
Giorgio Armani lip maestro in 400: £28.80, Look Fantastic
Lip maestro goes on thicker and more powdery than most liquid formulas, so it feels more like a nourishing, creamy lipstick. It doesn’t dry to a super matte finish, but rather remains satin and doesn’t apply with super harsh lines but with soft, flattering edges. The shade “400” is a slightly blue-y, medium red that makes teeth look whiter.
Mac retro matte liquid lip colour in burnt spice: £19, Mac Cosmetics
This suede-like finish liquid lipstick is a real trooper. Once dried, we didn’t get any colour transfer on to our morning coffee mug. “Burnt spice” is a lovely daytime-appropriate dirty rose. We found that on the darker shades you might need a few more layers to get an even finish.
Laura Mercier rouge essentiel âin nu prefere: £26, Cult Beauty
The packaging of Laura Mercier’s rouge essentiel feels far more expensive than it is: cuboid and weighty with a mirror finish and magnetic close. They’re highly pigmented and feel creamy and nourishing on the lips, and it stayed on through a lunch out and beyond. “Nu prefere” is a perfect nude.
Estee Lauder pure colour envy paint on liquid lip colour in bronze leaf: £27, Estee Lauder
Estee Lauder’s pure colour envy liquid lipstick didn’t budge – we only topped it up once all day – but somehow doesn’t feel drying on the lips. It also masked the natural texture of lips more than others we tried, so it’s a good choice if you don’t like product settling into creases. “Bronze leaf” is a retro brown-toned nude.
Charlotte Tilbury matte revolution in walk of shame: £25, Feel Unique
Charlotte Tilbury’s matte revolution lipsticks have cult status, and rightly so. The finish is matte and creamy. They don’t last as long as some liquid formulas, but they’re among the best for a classic bullet and they’re a more hydrating option, too. Start with the iconic nude “pillow talk” and then pick up our current go-to, the berry rose “walk of shame”.
Hourglass opaque rouge liquid lipstick in canvas: £25, Space NK
These go on silky smooth and don’t set too quickly so you have time to move product around and blend as you wish. They have a velvety matte finish that doesn’t look dry and claggy on the lips, and are very comfortable to wear. It fades a little on the inner parts of your lips after eating, but we easily got eight hours’ wear out of ours in “canvas”, a lovely, slightly murky pink.
Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipstick: £22, Anastasia Beverly Hills
ABH may be known for its brow products, but its liquid lipsticks aren’t far behind. They’re quite creamy on application but dry swiftly to a velvety matte finish and dense colour. Our only quibble is that they are more drying that others we tried, so we found that they started to crumble with too many layers throughout the day. Use a lip balm before application to help avoid this. We love this brown nude named “ashton”.
The verdict: Long-lasting lipsticks
If staying power is what you’re after, Chanel rouge allure ink won’t let you down, and the finish and colour payoff is beautiful.