4 Vivid Lipsticks I’ve Known and Loved

I’ve never been one for much makeup. The idea of foundation, primer, blush, eye shadow, eyeliner, et al. typically makes me feel a bit exhausted and very incompetent. But that doesn’t mean my makeup bag lies completely empty. Easy to apply and visually very effective, I’m a sucker for a great lip color. I know how to color within the (lip) lines, skill be damned! If it’s bright, deeply pigmented and under $10, I’ll usually give it a spin. I’ve often struggled to find colors that even show up on POCs with darker skin tones. After searching high and low for quality formulas in current colors, I’ve gathered some of my personal favourite inexpensive lippies. Reap the benefits of my quest.

Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Uptown Mauve

2015-05-01 13.27.36
Since Milani doesn’t widely retail in Canada, this tube was a bit of a wildcard. I picked it up on a recent jaunt to the States, and I was delighted at how bright it looks on me. I’m always trippin’ off that purp (lipstick), and the bright fuschia falls right into the range of pinky purply hues that I tend to sport. It smells like a yummy candy, which some may find off putting but didn’t bother me much. The wear throughout the day was good, but could use a lip liner underneath. However, the price point and color were enough to sway me into trying more from Milani.

Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in Shameless

2015-05-02 13.55.06
I bought this shade on a whim, expecting it to be drying and lackluster like several other matte lip colors I’ve tried. Alas! I was 100% wrong. The formulation makes for a smooth (not to mention minty) finish, and holds up decently through my day. Despite being matte, it is oddly moisturizing… not certain how they pulled that one off, but I’m sold. Also the applicator is a fun crayon shape, so there’s that.

N.Y.C. Ultra Moist Lip Wear in Mahogany

2015-04-24 20.11.59
This is the most inexpensive of the bunch, and the color payoff is quite surprising. I bought the tube thinkin’ that it would be too subtle on my deep skin tone, but it turned out to be a deliciously 90’s vampy tone. I like to imagine that Beyonce would have worn it circa Bills, Bills, Bills (probably because I like to imagine I am Beyonce). I cheated a little with the color since I’ve got a matching lip liner so the wear was longer lasting than if it had been flyin’ solo. I will say it held up decently through a few smooch and a bite to eat, so it has the Lydia stamp of approval.

Just a note: to make your lipstick last longer and apply more evenly, I recommend making sure that your lips are properly moisturized beforehand. If you want to make some balm of your own, we’ve got you!

NYX Glam Lip Gloss Aqua Luxe in Disco Playground

2015-05-01 18.55.20
This shade is made for any time you want to feel F-A-N-C-Y. Not since my forays into shiny Bonne Bell glosses have I fallen so hard for something with so much sheen. Non-sticky and gleamin’ with golden bits, it would look just as nice over a bright lip color. This glitzy tube held up during many a kiss, and is a guaranteed head turner. Long-lasting and fun, just how I like it!

This is just a shortlist; I could wax poetic about the Revlon balms for days… What about you? Any richly pigmented drugstore finds you would like to share with the Straddleverse?

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Lydia O

Lydia Okello is a feminist, body positive, queer personal style blogger. On her website Style is Style, she showcases her panache for bright colors and power clashing. When she isn't pawing over Samantha Pleet collections on Tumblr, she's dreaming about havin' a kitten of her own one day. You can find her on Twitter, Tumblr and on her personal blog.

Lydia has written 64 articles for us.


  1. I had no idea lipstick could be this interesting. I’m not a fashion person, but I like your posts a lot, Lydia! Thank you :)

  2. Pacifica lipstick is amazing. It costs $14, so it’s slightly more expensive than the $10 limit here, but the entire company is vegan and doesn’t use gross, harmful chemicals, so I think it’s worth it. I usually don’t wear any makeup, but I have to wear lipstick for an upcoming choral concert, and I found this at Target (they also have a website). They only had “Firebird” in stock and it’s a true, bright red, which I normally wouldn’t get, but I’m glad I did because when I put it on I felt powerful. So I might actually wear lipstick now, because it was such a great feeling.

  3. i have to try the nyx one, it looks so amazing on u! i just bought some lipsticks from the bodyshop and they are surprisingly very vivid, long lasting, and moisturizing! although a tube is $15, they currently have a buy one get one half off or buy three get 2 free!

  4. Those Revlon balms are amazing! I have a few in the different formulas and I, too, was amazed at how moisturizing the matte one was! Not really a lipstick, but the revlon lip butters are great too. Unfortunately they discontinued my 2 favorite colors :(

    I think I’m gonna have to pick up that gold nyx gloss soon!

  5. Colourpop has some sweet vivid colors, and each lip(pie) stick is $5, and another $5 for the matching lip liner.

    These all look great, but like everybody else, I love that gold!!

  6. You look amazing in all of those! I feel the same way about makeup but I’ve slooowly been dipping my toe into lipstick.

    Do you (or did you) have squeamishness surrounding going into the makeup section? I’m moving to presenting more femme of center and I’m still learning to navigate all of this.

  7. My go to brand is the L’Oreal infallible lipcolor and the new infallible pro last lipcolor which is the same as the other – just packaged differently and a lot more colors. The liquid is in one tube and there’s a balm to seal it. It doesn’t budge at all and needs a waterproof makeup remover to get it off. Prices and the colors vary from store to store, and I’ve seen it as high as $14. What I do is look at the colors in the stores then find it for less on eBay. I am going to try a new line of lipsticks that I stumbled upon online from LA splash dot com. Women are raving about the colors and that they are a beautiful matte and waterproof. There are three lines and all are waterproof. They go for $11 each but if your order is more than $50 there’s no $6 shipping. I tried getting my friend to order with me so I can eliminate the shipping but she’s unsure lol

  8. Yes yes yes this last pic I love everything about it. That gold goes SO well with your glasses I kinda want to ditch my contacts and get me a pair of those.

    • I used to LOATHE glasses, but this pair has got me feelin’ alright. It’s nice to switch it up!

      • I’ve been wearing contacts for the past 4 years, and now my eyes get a bit dry and I can’t see anything after 6pm… I used to LOVE the idea of contacts (vs. glasses) but that pic/those glasses of yours are kinda making me change my mind :D

  9. Damn these all look great on you but basically you have like amazing style and look amazing all the time. HOW.

    Number 2, the purple, love it. Think I’m going to have to look into acquiring a purple lipstick myself.

Comments are closed.