The 20 Best Lipsticks of All Time, According to Makeup Artists and Editors

From MAC’s Ruby Woo to Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk.

best lipsticks of all time including mac, nars, charlotte tilbury lipsticks
(Image credit: Future)

Search “lipstick” on Sephora’s website and you’re going to get upwards of 200 products. On Nordstrom? Nearly 500. And that’s not even counting tinted lip balms, pigmented glosses, or long-wear lip stains. While scrolling for hours upon hours is certainly an option, picking the best everyday lipstick of all time doesn’t have to be a crazy expedition. With the expert assistance of celebrity makeup artists and our fellow editors, we’ve compiled a definitive list of the all-time best lip products, including lipsticks for fair skin, lipsticks for medium skin tones, and lipsticks for deep skin tones. Trust us, if they’ve made it on this page, they’re the real deal. You’re not going to have to worry about smudging, drying, or bleeding. These bullets have been tested time and again by the best pros in the industry.

Even though makeup artists agree that these are the best lipsticks in the history of lipstick creation (we’re throwing it back to the 1999 launch of MAC’s Ruby Woo), picking the best formula for your routine is a personal decision. I’m *obsessed* with peachy pinks and satin finishes, but other beauty professionals would shout about their love for waterproof reds from the rooftops. As such, each recommendation we provide is going to give you the inside scoop—which skin tones it works best for, application hacks (grab one of the best lip liners), and exactly why it’s hailed as the créme de la créme of lipsticks in the beauty world.

The Best Lipsticks

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What to Look for in a Lipstick

Formula

Anyone who's found their lipstick fading in minutes or bleeding all over their skin can attest that not all lipsticks are built alike. When looking for the best formula, check reviews to see if reviewers can confirm that the product lasts long, looks as advertised, and stays put. If you can sample the product in person, swatch it on the inside of your wrist. If it feels dry or cakey, or if it bleeds or feathers on your skin, it'll have the same effect on your lips.

Color

Your go-to lipstick color depends entirely on your personal preference, but Kaye says that undertone is the most important factor to keep in mind when searching for a shade that flatters you.

"Something that people never talk about is undertones with makeup products," she says. "Everybody's undertone is different." If you have a warm undertone, it's best to avoid cooler options, such as red lipsticks with blue undertones, because they can make the wearer appear washed out. Conversely, warm shades can make a cool-toned individual appear orange.

Pairing with Other Products

Kaye also says to take into account the other makeup products you'll be wearing. "Personally, with my clients and myself, I like to create a cohesive look on my face. I like to match the lipstick with the blush," she says.

And when it comes to the age-old adage that you should only go bold on one part of the face at a time? Kaye says to throw away that rule book altogether.

"I come from pageants, so I think that you can do bold everything if you want to, just because that's how stage makeup is," she says. "If you want to do something bold, it should just be for the right occasion. For example, a bold eye and a bold lip may not be the best for going to church on a Sunday, but it would be great for a night out. You can also match your makeup vibe with your personality: If you're very bold, then both a very bold eye and a hold lip may make sense for you, because when people meet you, they'll understand."

How to Apply Lipstick

Technique is another facet that's totally up to personal preference. I, for one, am a big swipe-and-go gal, taking time to accentuate my Cupid's bow for an ultra-feminine, flirty, 1930s-inspired look. When I'm especially anxious about the color fading, I use a matte lip liner first, apply the lipstick, and then top off the look with a gloss that acts as a barrier against color transfer.

Kaye, on the other hand, says that she likes to use "a nude shade as a lip contour first, no matter the color. Then, I will overline the lips slightly—unless the client likes a lot—and then I'll go in with the lip color. This really helps the lip color blend into the face better, rather than it being a harsh contrast."

Meet the Experts

Allison Kaye
Allison Kaye

Allison Kaye is a professional makeup artist specializing in celebrity and influencer services, best known for styling NFL and MLB players' wives and girlfriends. She also offers classes on makeup application. She is currently based in Florida.

Dani Parkes
Dani Parkes