The best long-wear lipstick will give you the right amount of color saturation without being overly drying, and won’t smudge on your face or transfer onto your clothes, hands, or anyone who greets you with a kiss on the cheek. It won’t last forever – you don’t really want that. When it fades, it does so gradually and evenly without leaving an uncomfortable ring on your lips. This is the most important makeup product you need for weddings, job interviews, important video calls, or any occasion where you want to look polished and focus on the moment, not touching up your makeup.
After testing 16 tubes, from drugstore to luxury formulas, I found that the L’Oreal Paris Rouge Signature Lightweight Matte Lip Stain offers a great blend of features, from the velvety matte finish to the elegant pointed doe-foot applicator, at a very affordable price point. And since the cost ranges from $5 (when on sale) to $10, you can afford to try different colors and stock up. Read on to find out why this is my best long-lasting lipstick choice.
Lightweight, durable color
This L’Oreal Paris lipstick really is as light as its name. I decided not to test traditional lip stains as they are a separate product category, but this is a hybrid product that straddles the line between liquid lipstick and lip stain. According to the brand, it’s designed to “give the high color impact of a liquid lipstick with the makeup-free feel of a lip stain.” In my experience, it does just that very well. It is more comfortable than many of its competitors, even more expensive ones.
And despite the bare-lip feel it gives, it has really impressive staying power. It lasted longer than comparably priced tubes from Sephora or NYX, and I liked the way it wears off better too – with a more even film of color. For me, it regularly lasted from morning to noon, a solid five to eight hours. It also does not transfer or smudge at all like others in different price ranges.
A weightless, matte feeling
This lipstick dries to a velvety matte finish that’s comfortable and flexible, though it’s not quite as opaque or highly pigmented as our top pick from Pat McGrath Labs. I appreciated that it’s not overly dry or, on the other end of the spectrum, sticky or gummy. It goes under and you can really forget about it for hours.
Stylish, flattering shades
You will surely find one that suits you in the 20-colour range. The collection offers something for every skin tone, from vibrant reds to berries to nudes. The only downside is that, as with any drugstore brand, you’re at the mercy of what you can find in stock online or in the store.
A well-made applicator
The applicator is where I think this L’Oreal Paris lipstick shines. I found that I love a really pointy doe foot stick to get a precise outline, especially in tricky areas like Cupid’s bow and the corners of my mouth. It was easy with other applicators to go overboard and get messy-looking results. The applicator of this lipstick is extremely dainty, pointed and not too fluffy – perfect if you’re obsessive-compulsive about precision. Perhaps the design is due to it being part of a company that also makes luxury makeup? Anyway, this hind foot feels borrowed from a more expensive tube.
How does the L’Oréal Paris Rouge Signature Lip Stain compare to other long-wear lipsticks?
This inexpensive cross between a matte, long-wear liquid lipstick and a lip stain feels much more comfortable than its competitors, and it lasts for hours longer. It also wears in a way that looks flattering, not uneven or smudged or peeling like some other long-wearing lipsticks do. It may not be the absolute long-lasting option, but it looks more attractive than those lipsticks. It also comes in a myriad of colors; only three lipsticks we tested had a wider range. Finally, it has a very advanced applicator for the price, which is essential for getting the crisp outline you want with these products.
I have been writing and editing stories about beauty for over 10 years as a journalist. Testing new products and interviewing makeup artists, industry professionals and chemists have literally been my job. While I’m well-versed in skincare and makeup (former dance recital and musical theater backstage nerd here!), I often forget to wear anything other than lipstick most days. I love how it makes me feel good and brightens up my face.
To tell this story, I sought out beauty experts who I know have a special knowledge and interest in lipsticks and the formulations that make them creamy and long-lasting — and why it’s so hard to marry that combination in a single tube. These include longtime editor Emily Dougherty (famous for her lipstick smash videos), Gemdo Cosmetics chemist Patricia Alvarez, New York and New Jersey-based celebrity and bridal makeup artist Cara Lovello, and beauty blogger Katya Bychkova.
How I Tested the Best Long-Wear Lipsticks
I started on the back of my hand; with each product I drew swatches and left them there to see how they did throughout the day. This made it easy to remove anything blotchy or feathery after two minutes, and I could definitely tell which ones weren’t hardening quickly. (Unfortunately for a few of my sweaters.) I noticed which ones dried fastest to a transfer-resistant finish and how they looked and felt on my lips, and if they cracked or peeled right away. I also paid attention to stickiness and whether it diminished over time. And of course I kept track of how it looked as the hours ticked by. Most of them left me with an unfortunate ring around my lips — an unintentional lip liner-only look. Finally, I considered the wand and packaging, and if they were particularly easy to use, they smelled particularly good or sparked joy.