These Drugstore Lip Primers Are the Secret to Longer-Lasting Lipstick

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If you’re a lover of a classic red lip—or any statement lip for that matter—lip primer should become your new best friend. Curious about what lip primer actually does? Much like the primer we use (or forget to use) before smearing on our foundation, lip primer creates a smooth canvas for flawless coverage. And if chosen correctly, lip primer has the ability to nourish lips, prevent feathering, provide long-lasting lip color, and add dimension to your shade of choice. Brighter lips and fewer touchups? Count us in.

So whether you’re a lipstick aficionado or someone who dabbles in the art of a statement lip we’ve compiled the best drugstore lip primers, because everybody deserves a bright, bold, beautiful lip.

Keep reading for our favorite drugstore lip primers.

Best Overall: NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Lip Primer

4.9
Nyx Lip Primer

Walmart

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Easy to apply

  • Smudgeproof

What We Don't Like
  • Dry consistency

Who else recommends it? Elle, Who What Wear, and StyleCraze all picked the NYX Professional Makeup Lip Primer.

What do buyers say? 75% of 2,400 Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Unlike other primers that tend to be drying, this primer preps lips for long-lasting, enhanced lip color while also moisturizing chapped lips. Sweep it onto your lips before lipstick to prevent it from fading or feathering.

Key Ingredients: Polybutene, Octyldodecanol | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Apply all over lips prior to lip pencil, lipstick and gloss | Size: 0.1 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Thin Lips: e.l.f. Cosmetics Lip Primer & Plumper

E.l.f. Studio Lip Primer and Plumper

E.l.f.

What We Like
  • Smudgeproof

  • Primes and plumps

  • Cinnamon scent

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more plumping

If you like a little plump in your pout, try e.l.f. Cosmetics' dual lip primer, which creates a base for smudge-proof lipstick while also plumping the lips thanks to cinnamon. While the lip plumper may "tingle," the results might make it worth the temporary sensation.

Key Ingredients: Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Talc | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Apply the lip primer to bare lips and blend out evenly with a lip brush then allow it to dry before applying lip color; Apply the lip plumper over the primer or lip color then allow for the tingling to subside before applying more product | Size: 0.06 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Key Ingredients

Cinnamon is a spice that is made from the inner bark of trees. It's loaded with antioxidants that contribute to its anti-inflammatory properties, but when applied to the lips, it can act as a natural lip plumper.

Best With SPF: Rimmel London Lip Conditioning Balm

Rimmel London Lip Conditioning Balm

Amazon

What We Like
  • Gives up to 8 hours of moisture

  • Helps prevent chapping and chaffing

  • Can use alone or under lipstick

  • Infused with SPF 15 for UV protection

What We Don't Like
  • The smell

Rimmel's lip conditioner can be used alone or under lipstick, as it leaves lips soft, smooth and feeling conditioned. The perfect primer for a drying matte lippie, no? Oh, and it also has built-in SPF 15, which is a surefire way to win us over.

Key Ingredients: N/A | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Apply all over lips prior to lipstick or as a standalone | Size: 0.14 oz | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: N/A

Best for Dry Lips: Aquaphor Healing Ointment

4.4
Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Ulta

What We Like
  • Prevents and soothes chafing, dryness, chapping, and blisters

  • Absorbs well into skin

  • Creates smooth skin

What We Don't Like
  • Can be greasy

While not technically a primer, Aquaphor is a multipurpose product that I personally use to prime my lips before applying lipstick. Simply dab a thin layer of the ointment onto the lip area, let soak in for a few minutes, and by the time you are ready to apply your lipstick, you'll have a smooth, moisturized pout.

Key Ingredients: Petrolatum 41% | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Dab a thin layer after washing hands | Size: 1.75-7 oz | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Clear: CoverGirl Outlast All Day Topcoat

Covergirl Outlast Longwear Lipstick 500 Clear Coat

Amazon

What We Like
  • Highly moisturizing

  • All-day coverage

  • Glossy shine

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel drying

This translucent top coat can be worn alone or paired with lipstick for added moisture. For those with especially dry lips, this hydration booster will leave your lips feeling soft and supple.

Key Ingredients: Sucrose Polycottonseedate, Ozokerite | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Apply all over lips prior to lip pencil, lipstick and gloss; Best when used with All-Day Colorcoat  | Size: 0.22 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Exfoliating: Maybelline New York Maybelline Master Glaze Lip Scrub Stick

Maybelline New York Maybelline Master Glaze Lip Scrub Stick

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Easy to use

  • Dually exfoliating

What We Don't Like
  • Could scrub better

This mini scrub stick is a great way to prime for smoother lips ahead. Simply swipe this stick onto your lips, and then use your fingers to massage it in and get all the gunk off. You can use this with or without water, and then use a tissue to wipe it away.

Key Ingredients: Polybutene, Sucrose | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Apply all over lips prior to lip pencil, lipstick and gloss and rub it in with a finger to exfoliate | Size: 0.49 oz | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What to Look for in a Lip Primer

Hydrating Ingredients

Lipstick doesn’t sit nearly as well on chapped lips, which is why it’s important to look for a lip primer that contains hydrating ingredients to keep your lips plush and soft. Be on the lookout for ingredients like jojoba oil, shea butter, and hyaluronic acid.

Lip Plumping Benefits

Some lip primers have added benefits, like the ability to plump the lips. When possible, opt for natural plumping agents like cinnamon, or mustard sprout. Some may sting but don't worry, they're safe.

Color

While most lip primers are translucent, you can also reach for a lip primer that's the same color as your concealer, which will help your lipstick look closer to its true hue by neutralizing your natural lip color. You can also opt for a lip liner with priming benefits; choose one the same shade or darker than your lipstick color.

FAQ
  • What does lipstick primer do?

    Tired of your lip color disappearing after thirty minutes of wear? Lipstick primer serves as a base for your lip color, allowing it to stay put and lay evenly on the lips while reducing feathering and creasing.

  • Is lipstick primer necessary?

    No, but it does help prep and prime your lips by creating a smooth base that makes your lipstick look better and last longer.

  • Can you use lip balm instead?

    Most lip primers on the market contain moisturizing ingredients, but if you’re only looking for hydration, a lip balm works just fine. If you're looking to improve the wear of your lipstick, however, you should stick with lip primer.

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. 13 best lip primers to keep your lipstick in place all day. Elle. https://www.elle.com/beauty/makeup-skin-care/g12843920/best-lip-primer

  2. Things I wish I knew sooner: this hack for move-proof lipstick. Who What Wear. https://www.whowhatwear.com/best-lip-primers

  3. Top 10 lip primers available in India – reviews and buying guide. StyleCraze. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/lip-primers-available-in-india

  4. Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant OilsInt J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070

  5. Lubart R, Yariv I, Fixler D, Lipovsky A. Topical Hyaluronic Acid Facial Cream with New Micronized Molecule Technology Effectively Penetrates and Improves Facial Skin Quality: Results from In-vitro, Ex-vivo, and In-vivo (Open-label) StudiesJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2019;12(10):39-44.

  6. Boen M, Alhaddad M, Guiha I, Wu DP, Goldman MP. A single site, open label clinical trial, evaluating the duration, efficacy, and safety of a novel lip plumper. J Drugs Dermatol. 2018;17(9):999-1004.

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