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If there’s one beauty product that’s gotten a serious glow-up in the last few years, it’s lip gloss. The first lip gloss I ever owned was a total throwback—glass tube, rollerball applicator, and twist-off top. It smelled and tasted like a cherry pie and had the consistency of oil. But the lip glosses of yesterday are nothing like the ones of today.
“Lip gloss formulations and textures have definitely evolved over the years,” says Geoffrey Rodriguez, a celebrity makeup artist who’s worked with Blake Lively, Emma Watson, and Padma Lakshmi. “Today’s textures vary in their level of glossiness as well as the range and depth of colors and finishes.” Translation: What was once oily and slick is now creamy and rich. Plus, many brands have now added formulas that plump, hydrate, and more. The best part? You can find these all right in the beauty aisle of your drugstore.
Below, explore the best drugstore lip glosses.
Best Overall: NYX Professional Makeup Butter Gloss
While he has many favorites, Rodriguez’s all-time favorite gloss is this one right here. “You simply can’t beat it for the texture, selection of shades, and unbelievable price,” he raves. And he’s right—the texture is a dream and really lives up to its name.
Runner-Up, Best Clear: Essence Shine Shine Shine Lip Gloss
Sometimes all you want is a pop of shine and nothing else—and that’s what this simple clear gloss does. Swipe it on for a subtle sheen, with no tacky finish in sight.
Best Matte: L'Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Gloss
If serious shine isn’t your thing, look to this long-wearing matte formula. It slides on like a velvety gloss and dries into a gorgeous demi-matte finish. In short: it reminds me of a plush lipstick without the guesswork.
Best Shade Range: Revlon Super Lustrous The Gloss
With a plethora of shades, you’re bound to find the color you need for every moment. Like a true gloss, it leaves a shiny finish that isn’t sticky or slick. Reviewers recommend topping off your lipstick with this gloss for a plumper-looking pout.
Best Sheer: BLK/OPL Honey Dew Me Lip Oil
Technically a lip oil, Honey Dew Me provides your pout with the nourishing benefits of a lip balm and the high shine of a gloss. Formulated with a blend of luscious oils like coconut, argan, moringa, and jojoba, its non-sticky texture nourishes dry, chapped lips and protects against free radicals while the barely-there nude hue leaves them looking even, glossy, and sleek. Plus, unlike most lip oils, this long-wear formula has lasting power.
Best Shimmer: Almay Goddess Gloss
Ready to give your put some dimension? This holographic gloss glistens in all the best ways, making your lips something to talk about. While it’s bold enough solo, you can add it on top of color for an even more vibrant finish.
Best for Dry Lips: Maybelline New York Lip Lifter Gloss with Hyaluronic Acid
If you're craving extra moisture but need something more than lip balm, this gloss is for you. Infused with hyaluronic acid, this formula hydrates and enhances your lips.
Best Shine: Neutrogena Lip Gloss Hydro Boost Hydrating Lip Shine
A boost of moisture and a splash of shine is exactly what you’ll get with this popular formula. Reviewers describe it as refreshing and silky—plus, the consistency is thicker than other glosses but without that tacky feel.
Best Vegan: The Lip Bar Lip Gloss
There’s a lot to love about this vegan lip gloss from The Lip Bar—first, of course, being that it’s vegan and cruelty-free. But it’s also formulated with 90% organic ingredients, packed with moisturizing favorites like shea butter and green tea extract, and never feels sticky or tacky. In short, it checks all the boxes. Available in 15 shades from a high-shine clear to pigment-rich reds, nudes, and pinks, there’s something for everyone.
Best Natural: Burts Bees 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Gloss
Beeswax and sunflower oil work together to nourish and moisturize in this 100% natural formula. It goes on smoothly—a must according to Rodriguez—and shades range from nudes to reds to pinks. My personal favorite shade? Starry Night, which is a gorgeous rich plum, perfect for day or night.
Best Plumping: Milani Keep It Full Lip Plumper
Reviewers love this creamy lip gloss for its lip plumping effect. It features peptides to stimulate collagen and (our fave) hyaluronic acid to soften. To top it all off, it also has a refreshing cooling sensation.
Best Color Payoff: COVERGIRL Colorlicious High Shine Lip Gloss
Take your pick from a slew of bold, bright colors that compliment any skin tone. From maroons to pinks to neutrals, you’ll be pleased with the color payoff for each of these shades. Users agree—many have reviewed that they’d buy it again and again.
Of all the drugstore lip glosses, NYX Professional Makeup's Butter Gloss is the definite winner, thanks to its undeniably buttery texture and staying power. A close second goes to the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Gloss for its demi-matte finish that looks like lipstick and feels like satin. Also excellent is Maybelline's Lifter Gloss Lip Gloss Makeup with Hyaluronic Acid for its incredible moisturizing benefits.
What to Look For in a Drugstore Lip Gloss
“A good lip gloss should glide over the lips effortlessly and make your lips feel luxurious and hydrated without being too sticky,” says Rodriguez. Creamier lip glosses tend to feel the least sticky, but you’ll be sacrificing shine. It’s all about finding the right balance that feels and looks right for you.
Lip gloss can be sheer or highly pigmented, and the choice is up to you. Clear lip glosses can provide sheen and moisture, helping to refresh your lipstick, stain, or bare lips. Subtle pigmentation can provide some color to brighten your look, while deeper pigments can give you that almost-lipstick look with less fuss.
Need more than just shine? Nowadays, lip glosses are infused with various ingredients that do everything from hydrate to plump to repair. Some glosses offer UV protection and antioxidants as well. Just be sure you’re choosing the right one for your specific needs.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Syden Abrenica has years of experience in the editorial beauty industry. She’s written for magazines like Health, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, and more. When she’s not falling in love with yet another lip gloss, she’s renovating her century-old home and watching Disney movies with her husband, son, and three rescue dogs.
How We Test Drugstore Lip Glosses
Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain products; you can read more about our product review methodology here.
Is Lip Gloss Bad for You?
Some lipglosses may contain toxins that are not ideal for leaving on your lips, such as chromium, lead, aluminum, cadmium. Look for products without these metals.
What Is the Purpose of Lip Gloss?
Lip gloss is typically used to create a glossy sheen on the lips. Sometimes with sparkle or shimmer. Often lip gloss is pigmented to provide a pop of color as well.
Does Lip Gloss Damage Lips?
Certain types of lip gloss may do damage to your skin, drying it out and leading to cracks. Plumping ingredients can sometimes irritate and lead to chapped lips. Some ingredients such as menthol, salicylic acid, cinnamic aldehyde, and peppermint oils can be drying, especially if you do not stay hydrated.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any drugstore lipgloss from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.