How Do I Choose the Best Cheap Lipstick?

Missy Nolan

Many women believe that cheap lipstick is just as good as — if not better than — the pricey designer brands. When shopping for cheap lipstick, choose colors that flatter your complexion and hair color. A good lipstick feels smooth, not gritty, and might contain special ingredients designed to improve the appearance of your lips or protect them from damage. Look for colors that are long-lasting and highly pigmented. You might also consider seasonal trends and your personal style preferences.

A woman applying an inexpensive lipstick.
A woman applying an inexpensive lipstick.

There are very few lipstick colors that flatter all hair colors. Blondes should consider cheap lipstick in a pink or dark red shade, and brunettes should opt for a light red color. Redheads look best in different varieties of orange lipstick or a glossy lipstick in a light bronze or gold shade. If you are shopping in a store rather than online, take advantage of any samples or free consultations that might be available.

Lipstick should be one or two shades darker than the user's lip color.
Lipstick should be one or two shades darker than the user's lip color.

Skin tone is another factor to consider before buying cheap lipstick. People who have rosy complexions should avoid pink, orange or gold lipstick, because these colors draw attention to the red undertones of the skin. Instead, try a cool blueish-red shade or an icy brown. Women who have pale skin should not use orange lipstick, because this shade washes out the complexion if you are fair-skinned. A clear, glossy lipstick with a hint of shimmer works well for nearly every skin tone.

Look for cheap lipstick that goes on smoothly and avoid any that feel gritty.
Look for cheap lipstick that goes on smoothly and avoid any that feel gritty.

Pay attention to how the lipstick feels when you apply it to your lips. Many women prefer a smooth, silky feeling, but not all cheap lipsticks have this quality. A lipstick that is gritty might irritate your lips or create an uneven appearance. You might also have trouble getting it to stay on your mouth, because fine particles tend to stick to the lips better.

Although cheap lipstick and designer cosmetics contain many of the same ingredients, they have different types and percentages of them. Cheap cosmetics usually have more filler and less pigment than expensive lipsticks and glosses. Ingredients are listed by quantity, so take note of where each item is found on the list. Lipsticks that contain lip plumping or wrinkle-fighting ingredients, as well as sunscreen, are other things for which you should look.

Never buy a lipstick that doesn't make you feel good about yourself, whether it's a cheap lipstick or an expensive designer gloss. Trends come and go, but some women never look good in neon pink or deep burgundy lipstick. If you want to take advantage of current trends, make sure that you still select colors that complement your hair and skin, as well as the clothes that you own. If you have a closet filled with skirts and business suits, for example, lime green lipstick might never be a practical option for you.

Women with pale skin should avoid orange lipstick.
Women with pale skin should avoid orange lipstick.

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Discussion Comments


If you need lipstick, cheap is fine if you can get a decent color. That's really my main problems with the cheap kind: so few color choices, or the colors they have are really, really trendy, and not good, general colors. But if you can find a decent shade, buy it. So what if you don't like it later? You didn't drop a ton of money on it.

Cheap lipstick, unlike cheap eyeshadow (which you can be allergic to) generally doesn't have any unpleasant side effects, and you can always blend it with another color to get a shade you like more.


Cheap lipstick is great if you want to try a color, or if you're getting a really out there color for Halloween. You don't want to spend $20 a tube if you can get the same color for $1 at the drugstore.

Sometimes, the cheap kind is just as good as the expensive kind. In fact, they're often made by different divisions of the same company! They just stick another name on the cheap stuff.

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