The Best Smudge- & Transfer-Proof Lipsticks

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When you want your lip color to look fresh after hours of wear, happy hour with friends, or wearing a mask, you need something a little more heavy-duty than your average formula. The best smudge- and transfer-proof lipsticks are liquid formulas, which are naturally longer-lasting, and contain silicone ingredients that help seal in the color. Most liquid lipsticks, especially matte ones, will last about 12 hours, and once they dry down (which takes only a few seconds), they become basically impossible to remove until you go in with a micellar water or cleansing oil.

How To Make Lipstick Last Longer

How you apply your lipstick can also impact how it holds up throughout the day. Prepping your lips by gently exfoliating away any rough patches and applying a thin layer of lip balm will create a smooth, clean canvas for the color to cling onto. That said, you'll want to make sure your lip balm has had time to completely sink in (or use a tissue to blot off any excess product), as too much balm on your lips can prevent the lipstick from setting properly. Then, to really lock your lipstick into place, line and fill in your lips with a lip liner in a similar color. After that, you can apply your lipstick, and even set it with a translucent powder or setting spray if you want to add even more staying power. Avoiding greasy or oily foods throughout the day can also help prevent your lipstick from smudging, bleeding, or transferring, since much like oil-based makeup removers, they can cause the lipstick to break down.

Shop The Best Smudge And Transfer Proof Lipsticks

In a hurry? Here are the best smudge and transfer proof lipsticks:

1. Best Prestige Matte Lipstick: Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Matte Lipstick

2. Best Drugstore Matte Lipstick: Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick

3. Best From An Indie, Black-Owned Brand: The Lip Bar Liquid Matte Lipstick

4. Best Drugstore Shiny Lipstick: Revlon ColorStay Overtime Lipcolor

5. Best Shimmery Lipstick: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick

Writer’s Pick: Best Prestige Matte Lipstick

I don't opt for liquid lipstick formulas often, but when I do, it’s always this Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Matte Lipstick. The liquid color quickly dries down to a matte finish that doesn't make your lips feel like they're shriveling up a few hours later. The lipstick is also super-pigmented, so just a thin layer will leave your lips saturated in color — whether you're going for a classic ruby red or a more neutral rosy shade.

Finish: Matte Available Shades: 23 Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: “Love it!!! Stays on even after drinking and eating and the color is great. One of the best lipsticks.”

Best Drugstore Matte Lipstick

Maybelline’s SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick is a favorite of beauty editors and Amazon shoppers — it even boasts over 50,000 five-star ratings on the site. It promises to give you saturated color that stays in place for a whopping 16 hours of wear. The wand features an arrow-shaped tip that lets you more precisely apply the lipstick along the outer lines and inside corners of your lips, and the formula is available in a range of go-to pink, red, and plum shades, in addition to more non-traditional lipstick colors like black, gray, and powder blue.

Finish: Matte Available Shades: 37 Cruelty-Free: No

Relevant Review: "After trying countless lip products, I have come to the conclusion that this one works best: it truly lasts all day long, does [not] bleed, does not transfer to items like spoons and cups or parts of the body you may kiss. [...] I recommend it to anyone who is tired of seeing their lipsticks on everything but their lips. [...]”

Best Matte Lipstick From An Independent, Black-Owned Brand

The founder of this independent, Black-owned beauty brand set out to create a range of vegan lipsticks that would complement every skin tone. The Lip Bar’s Liquid Matte Lipstick does just that with a mix of soft neutrals and browns, plus plenty of vibrant colors like the fire-engine red pictured here. It’s also perfect for anyone who finds traditional liquid matte formulas to be too drying, as it's formulated with jojoba seed oil and vitamin E to keep your lips feeling moisturized and smooth.

Finish: Matte Available Shades: 10 Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: "Smooth to apply, doesn't dry the lips, doesn't smudge, and it's long-lasting. The color looks amazing. I love it, and [I] got many compliments."

Best Shiny Lipstick

While matte finishes tend to be the go-to when it comes to long-lasting liquid formulas, Revlon’s ColorStay Overtime Lipcolor introduces a high-shine option that lasts for up to 16 hours. The two-step process starts with applying the transfer- and kiss-proof color and letting it set for a minute. To lock it in place and give your lips a glossy finish, brush on the top coat, which contains conditioning ingredients like squalane and vitamin E to keep your lips feeling moisturized throughout the day. It's also a quite versatile product, as you can skip the top coat and just apply the color on its own when you want a matte finish. The only downside is that each shade is sold on its own Amazon page, but you can browse all of the shades here.

Finish: Shiny Available Shades: 29 Cruelty-Free: No

Relevant Review: "This stuff is great and I love the color. It stays on all day without the annoying transfer to anything your lips touch.”

Best Shimmery Lipstick

To add some subtle sparkle to your look, try one of the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipsticks in a shimmery finish. Thanks to nourishing avocado oil and vitamin E, the formula won’t dry your lips out, and it’s available in three metallic colors. The brand's traditional liquid matte lipsticks are formulated with the same moisturizing ingredients, too, if you're looking for more color options sans shimmer.

Finish: Matte Available Shades: 3 Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: "[...] It is a great product during these days of wearing a mask. This product does not rub off onto my mask the way ordinary lip stick does. I have purchased this several times since the start of the pandemic.”

You May Also Like: This Universal Smudge And Transfer Proof Top Coat

During an interview a few years back, one of the Radio City Rockettes told me that the secret behind their budge-proof lipstick wasn't actually a lipstick at all, but a lip sealant called Sealed With A Kiss. Since their lipstick has to hold up through hours of sweating and multiple quick changes, it's safe to say they know a thing or two about long-lasting makeup. For a drugstore take on the lip sealant that's loaded with nourishing ingredients, try CoverGirl’s Outlast All-Day Top Coat. The clear gloss can be applied over any lipstick to add a high-shine finish and increase its staying power. Plus, it costs less than $5 on Amazon.

Finish: Shiny Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: "I use this over top of my favorite lipsticks, which aren't long-lasting nor are they CoverGirl brands. […] I haven't tried to give it a kissing test, but I do eat and drink during the day without having to constantly reapply my lipstick, and no lipstick has rubbed off on my clothes, so I'm a happy camper. I'll definitely be buying this again.”

About The Author:

Marissa DeSantis has worked as a beauty writer for nearly 10 years. Her pieces can be found across print and digital publications like Bustle, Evening Standard, Teen Vogue, and InStyle.