Splurge vs. Steal: Which Lipsticks to Spend Your Cash On

Ever gone lipstick shopping and been at a total loss? Us too. With so many companies making such similar lip colors, it can be near impossible to determine which is actually the best product until after you buy it. That’s why HC enlisted the help of professional makeup artist Stephanie Navarro to help guide us through which products will give us the best bang for our buck. She chose some of her favorite brand-name lipsticks and their drugstore competitors, then judged them on vibrancy, opacity, wearability and price. Check out what she learned so you can find a product worth spending your money on!

1. Sephora ($12.50) vs. NYX Cosmetics ($4)


First up are Sephora’s Color Rouge Cream Lipstick in Valentine 09 – Rich Magenta ($12.50) and NYX Cosmetics’ Extra Creamy Round Lipstick in Chic Red ($4).

The Sephora lipstick is actually Navarro’s all-time favorite, but both of these colors are practically identical. Navarro says that “the Sephora brand has stronger staying power, so [I] rarely touched it up, whereas the NYX lost its vibrancy after a few sips of my skinny margarita.”

The NYX brand is a great option because it’s only $4, but the Sephora brand is the better choice. It’s still pretty inexpensive, and it’s more durable than the NYX color.

Winner: Sephora’s Valentine 09 Rich Magenta Color

2. Stila ($22) vs. Revlon ($10.99)


 

The next products that Navarro tested were Stila Long Wear Liquid Lip Color in Fiery ($22) and Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick in Top Tomato ($10.99).

“The packaging is nearly identical,” Navarro says. “Both colors are beautiful, sensual reds, and both get As for color and A+s for wearability! They last throughout the night without drying out the lips too much.”

Navarro suggests carrying a lip balm with you to serve as a refresher for both your lips and your lip color throughout the night. You won’t have to worry much about touchups with the actual lipstick itself, though. Neither of these products fade quickly, and both are super durable.

As for the final verdict, Navarro says, “If you’re looking for a sexy red that you don’t have to babysit, then go with Revlon! It matches the quality of Stila’s long wear liquid lipstick at half the cost.”

Winner: Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick in Top Tomato

3. Tarte ($24) vs. Revlon ($9.49)

 

 


Our third comparison is between Tarte’s LipSurgence Matte Lip Tint in Fiery ($24) and Revlon’s ColorBurst Matte Lip Balm in Standout ($9.49).

Visually, these products are extremely similar: they have a similar name and color and the same fat crayon stick packaging. “They both wear amazingly well,” Navarro says. “The opacity and pigment is spot-on, and both will keep for hours without touchups.”

From the outside, it seems the only difference between these two products is the price. However, they are quite different because of their ingredients. “Tarte prides themselves on formulating their products without parabens, mineral oils and phthalates and, more recently, without gluten,” Navarro says.

The best way to decide which lipstick is best for you is to figure out how much the ingredients in your makeup matter to you. “If you’re an ingredient-savvy lipstick junkie, go with Tarte and pay the extra price for a quality, health-conscious product,” Navarro says. “If preservatives don’t phase you, then swipe two of Revlon Matte Balms for the price of one Tarte lipstick!”

Winner: Up to you!

4. MAC ($16) vs. NYX Cosmetics ($4)


The final lipstick showdown is between MAC’s Lipstick in Vegas Volt ($16) and NYX Cosmetics’ Extra Creamy Round Lipstick in Haute Melon ($4).

“Both are beautiful electric coral colors that we’re seeing everywhere this summer,” Navarro says. “I have been loving MAC’s lip colors for years, so I was surprised at how beautiful the pigment was from NYX.”

When Navarro tested them out, she found them to both wear extremely well, with the MAC lipsticks lasting “a bit longer under drinking circumstances.” But when looking for a quick pop of color, go with NYX Cosmetics. The two lipsticks are so similar that you might as well go for the least expensive one!

Winner: NYX Cosmetics’ Extra Creamy Round Lipstick in Haute Melon


Thanks to Navarro’s research and lipstick field tests, buying lipstick just got so much easier. She showed us that it’s okay to splurge on quality products, and also that it's possible to find cheaper products that aren’t cheaper in quality. Ultimately, you want the lipstick that is the best quality for the best price without breaking the bank.