Is it just me, or is the hunt for the perfect liquid lipstick a never-ending quest of frustrations? I mean, is it really so difficult to make a perfectly pigmented, super-hydrating, and totally matte liquid lipstick? Apparently yes, because season after season, I find myself disappointed by brands that falsely promise vibrant, 24-hour color, and then their lipsticks barely make it through my morning cup of coffee. And sure, there are a few expensive-as-hell, luxury formulas I could spend all of my earthly dollars on (I really couldn’t, but shhh), but I refuse to believe that there isn’t one, just one, drugstore formula that works just as well. So I made it my mission to find out.
In an effort to find a knight-in-shining liquid lipstick for a cool $15 or less, I gathered seven of the top-rated drugstore formulas from Maybelline, NYX, Revlon, L’Oréal Paris, Wet n Wild, Milani, and Rimmel, all in (almost) universally flattering mauve, berry, and pink hues, and diligently tested them for opacity, wearability, and ease of application. After wearing each lipstick for a solid two days (sorry, no pictures of my face, but I did round up some photos of beauty bloggers testing the shades on themselves), it was clear that I had some winners and some, well, total losers. And, best of all, I came out of this experiment with a new $9 liquid lipstick that defies odds by being both moisturizing and long-lasting. Look! Dreams do come true! Read on to see how the competition played out, and get ready to officially end your liquid-lipstick quest.