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Which lipstick has the best staying power?

We tested 10 red satin-finish and matte lipsticks from Mac, Chanel, Fenty, L'Oreal and more, to find out which is the longest lasting.

Which lipstick has the best staying power?

We could be wearing masks for a while longer, which provides a tricky challenge for those who enjoy wearing lipstick. We put 10 red matte and satin-finish lipsticks to the test, to help you find out which lasts and won’t end up patchy or smeared across your face and mask.

The lipsticks ranged in price from £7.99 up to £44 at full RRP, and the brands included Chanel, Charlotte Tilbury, Fenty Beauty, Huda Beauty, L’Oreal Paris, Mac, Maybelline, Nars, NYX and Tom Ford.

To find out which lipstick would survive a typical day we enlisted three volunteers (two women and a man), ranging in age from 24 to 56.

We devised a range of scenarios:

  • Mask test volunteers read a Which? news story out loud while wearing the lipstick and a clean white mask.
  • Kiss test – our volunteers kept it Covid-friendly and kissed the back of their own hand.
  • Eating test – this included biting into an apple, a muffin and two messy forkfuls of buttered spaghetti.

Find out which red lipsticks impressed us and would survive a typical day without fading, smudging or needing to be reapplied.

Watch: Which? lipsticks came top in our tests

Our video below shows the lengths we went to in order to discover which lipstick lasts the longest.


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Long-lasting lipsticks we recommend

Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint

Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Colour – Editor’s Choice

Cheapest price: £20 at Boots. Also available at Amazon, Fenty Beauty, Harvey Nichols
Shade: Uncensored
Finish: Matte

Our verdict: The Fenty Beauty Lip Paint came out top overall for all of our testers.

Our volunteers said the lipstick was easy to apply with the sponge applicator and, despite a lot of product coming out in one pass, the lipstick stayed in place until the very end of our tests.

Testers wearing the Fenty lipstick before and after the mask test.
Testers wearing the Fenty lipstick before and after the mask test

It was the only lipstick that didn’t need touching up, and it looked passable even after the dreaded spaghetti test.

Testers also commented on how the matte formula wasn’t drying compared with some of the other matte lipsticks we tried out.

L'Oreal Paris Rouge Signature Matte Liquid Lipstick

L’Oreal Paris Rouge Signature Matte Liquid Lipstick – Editor’s Choice

Cheapest price: £4.10 at Amazon. Also available at Boots, Look Fantastic, Superdrug
Shade: I Don’t
Finish: Matte

Our verdict: Great staying power on a budget.

Our older tester rated the L’Oreal Paris Rouge as her favourite, along with the Fenty, and the other two testers picked it as their second favourite.

Like the Fenty Beauty Lip Paint, this liquid lipstick also has a sponge applicator, which received mixed reviews. Some felt it was easier to apply than the stick design, but others thought it was tricky for first-timers.

It stayed put so well throughout the tests that two volunteers commented on how it was difficult to remove.

Testers wearing the L'Oreal lipstick before and after the pasta test.
Testers wearing the L’Oreal lipstick before and after the spaghetti test

How the rest of the lipsticks fared

Here’s our verdict on the rest of the lipsticks we tested, listed in alphabetical order.

Chanel Coco Rouge

Chanel Rouge Coco

Cheapest price: £31 at Boots. Also available at John Lewis, Chanel, Feel Unique, Selfridges
Shade: Carmen
Finish: Satin

Our verdict: If you’re looking for a long-lasting lippy, we recommend saving your pennies and looking elsewhere.

The Chanel Rouge Coco seemed to struggle with the eating and kissing tests the most: testers noted a large amount of transfer and colour loss afterwards.

However, they liked the easy application and the creamy texture of the lipstick.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution

Cheapest price: £25 at Asos, Charlotte Tilbury, Cult Beauty, Feel Unique, John Lewis, SpaceNK, and Selfridges
Shade: Red Carpet Red
Finish: Matte

Our verdict: We certainly didn’t find Charlotte Tilbury to be a bad lipstick, but it didn’t wow with its staying power like our Editor’s Picks did.

It seemed to transfer easily on to objects, according to our testers, but surprisingly they didn’t lose much colour on the lips in the process.

It also had a subtle shea-butter smell, which our testers liked.

Huda Beauty Power Bullet Matte Lipstick

Huda Beauty Power Bullet Matte Lipstick Icon Collection

Cheapest price: £22 at Feel Unique, Boots, Cult Beauty and Selfridges
Shade: El Cinco De Mayo
Finish: Matte

Our verdict: Huda Beauty is a decent lipstick, with one volunteer ranking it second overall.

One tester voted this as their second favourite, and another voted it as their third favourite. The volunteers were impressed with its staying power throughout the tests, and commented on the stylish case.

However, two volunteers did note that the sharp angle of the lipstick made it difficult to apply.

MAC matte lipstick

Mac Matte Lipstick

Cheapest price: £17.50 at Asos, Boots, John Lewis, Mac. Also available at Amazon

Shade: Lady Danger

Finish: Matte

Our verdict: Our testers had mixed results for this Mac lipstick.

The volunteers commented on its pleasant, chocolatey smell, but our male tester also mentioned that this lipstick is quite small, and so difficult for bigger hands to use.

It ranked poorly in the mask test, with volunteers commenting on the obvious marks left in the white masks, but they were surprised at how the lipstick itself looked fine.

However, all testers noted how the lipstick was almost completely wiped off after the pasta test.

Maybelline Colour Sensational Made for All Lipstick

Maybelline Colour Sensational Made for All Lipstick

Cheapest price: £4.99 at Amazon. Also available at Superdrug, Boots, Look Fantastic
Shade: Red For Me
Finish: Matte

Our verdict: This Maybelline lipstick was rated the worst by our oldest tester and fifth by the other two.

Our volunteers had mixed feelings about it. All commented on the pleasant shea-butter scent and the creamy consistency, but the lipstick clearly sat very differently on mature lips.

Our oldest tester noted bleeding and smudging throughout the testing.

NARS Lipstick

Nars Satin Lipstick

Cheapest price: £22 at Asos, Cult Beauty, Feel Unique, Look Fantastic, Selfridges

Shade: Bad Reputation
Finish: Satin

Our verdict: Nars is not the lipstick we’d pick to wear for an indulgent dinner.

Greasy food was this lipstick’s undoing in our tough trials. Testers reported the most loss of colour and bleeding during the muffin and spaghetti tests.

One volunteer mentioned how moisturised her lips felt, but the stick’s curved end made it tricky to apply.

NYX Professional Satin Lipstick

NYX Professional Makeup Shout Loud Satin Lipstick

Cheapest price: £6.40 at Feel Unique and Look Fantastic. Also available at Boots, Cult Beauty, Superdrug
Shade: Red Haute
Finish: Satin

Our verdict: While one tester liked this NYX lipstick, the others gave it mixed reviews.

Our oldest volunteer didn’t find any colour was lost until the second-to-last test, the apple.

However, she did say it was difficult to apply consistently, which was in line with another tester who said a few passes were needed on the lips to get the colour through.

The other volunteers found a lot of transfer on to the hand in the kissing test and colour loss from the eating test, with both of them topping up at least once.

Tom Ford Lip Colour

Tom Ford Lip Colour

Cheapest price: £42 at Harrods. Also available at, John Lewis, Tom Ford
Shade: Ruby Rush
Finish: Satin

Our verdict: We had mixed results for this Tom Ford lipstick.

Two volunteers rated it poorly overall, while another rated it second best.

Testers liked the shea-butter scent and the stylish case, although one volunteer said it was uncomfortable to hold.

Our older tester noted that the lipstick had noticeable bleeding after the spaghetti test, and everyone commented on the obvious transfer on to the face mask.

Despite this lipstick’s tendency to transfer, it stayed put during our kissing test.

Four things we learned testing lipsticks

  • We found liquid lipsticks more impressive than traditional bullet lipsticks. The two liquid lipsticks we tested were all voted as favourites by our testers.
  • Matte-finish lipstick seems to stay put better than satin finish. Our testers’ first and second choices were almost all matte lipsticks.
  • Condensation from wearing a mask can remove your lipstick just as easily as your lips making contact with the mask. One tester voted Chanel worst in the mask test, but although the lipstick had bled around the lips, it had barely left a mark on the mask.
  • Buttered spaghetti posed the greatest challenge for our lipsticks. The greasiness from the butter broke down the formulas, showing us which lipsticks really could stand the test of time and which couldn’t.
Tester wearing the Chanel lipstick before and after the pasta test.
Tester wearing the Chanel lipstick before and after the spaghetti test.

How to keep your lipstick in place for longer

  1. Gently exfoliate your lips beforehand to get rid of dead skin.
  2. Apply a lip liner in a similar colour all over your lips before you apply your lipstick.
  3. If you like to apply lip balm before your lipstick, make sure to blot your lips with a tissue to remove any excess product.
  4. Invest in a lipstick primer to put on before your lipstick.
  5. Set your lipstick with a setting powder.
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