December 6, 2022

Commerce Photo Composite

While long-wear makeup has evolved over the past few years, lipstick can be a bit more finicky. That said, a little prep work might be all you need to achieve true staying power. Enter: lip primer. “Lip care is extremely important if you want to rock a lip color,” says makeup artist Analisa Marie. “Primers prep the area for longevity.” 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.

Our best overall pick is NYX Professional Makeup Lip Primer, which has an incredibly soft skin feel that creates a smooth-canvas base and color-corrects with sheer pigments. For those with chapped lips, consider Revlon Kiss, which contains ingredients to exfoliate and prep lips for pigment.

Depending on the formula, these pre-lipstick products can offer hydration, gentle exfoliation, a plumping effect, anti-feathering protection, or a smooth matte base. Not only that, but some of the best options are super affordable and widely available online and at your local pharmacy.

We conducted hours of research on the best drugstore lip primers, evaluating each formula’s key ingredients, skin feel, ease of application, and how well it extends the wear of lipstick. We considered dozens of formulas, and after consulting with a makeup artist and fan-favorites, landed on these best in show.

Nyx Lip Primer

NYX Cosmetics

 

NYX dominates in many drugstore makeup categories, so it’s no surprise the brand makes the best lip primer. This velvety-soft lipstick-prepping product goes on smooth, creating a uniform canvas for matte, creamy, or glossy color.

It comes in two shades, nude and deep nude, both of which are sheer with subtle color-correcting pigments. The crayon-like pencil makes this primer easy to apply, and you can count on it to prevent feathering and fading for hours on end.

Key Ingredients: Jojoba, silica | Dosage: Thin layer before lip color | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Irene Gari Anti-Feathering Lip Base

 

Want to stop your color from creeping outside your lip line? Irene Gari is your new best friend. This anti-feathering base helps your lipstick stay exactly where you applied it. The conditioning formula also promises to prevent fading and smudging through sips, bites, and animated conversations.

Key Ingredients: Palm oil | Dosage: Thin layer before lipstick | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

L.A. Girl Lip Primer

If you’re a matte lipstick stan, this one’s for you. L.A. Girl Matte Base smooths your lips without making them balmy or greasy. The result? Longer-lasting color with minimal feathering.

Key Ingredients: Rice bran, silica, beeswax | Dosage: Thin layer before lipstick | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

e.l.f Cosmetics Ride or Die Lip Balm

 

“Prepping with any hydrating balm is a must, like e.l.f. Ride Or Die,” says Marie. This glossy treatment moisturizes with jojoba and castor oils, provides a slight plumping effect, and leaves you with delectably juicy lips.

Key Ingredients: Jojoba and castor oils | Dosage: Thin layer daily | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Revlon Lip Balm

 

Revlon Kiss goes on like a balm and acts like an exfoliating lip scrub. It calls on real sugar crystals to slough off dead skin and polish your lips into a smooth canvas.1 The non-greasy formula is a particularly great prepper for matte lipsticks.

Key Ingredients: Petrolatum, sucrose, silica | Dosage: Thin layer before lip color | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Neutrogena Hydro Boost

When your lips crave some TLC, reach for Neutrogena Hydro Boost. This conditioning lip treatment nourishes chapped and cracked lips, leaving them smooth, hydrated, and oh-so-soft without a waxy or greasy feel.

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, beeswax | Dosage: Thin layer as needed | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Rimmel London Lip Conditioning Balm

 

Containing a blend of tried-and-true ingredients like castor oil, beeswax, and petroleum jelly, this no-nonsense balm promises up to eight hours of moisture. It also helps smooth out your lips and prevents cracking under lipstick.

Key Ingredients: Petrolatum, beeswax, castor oil | Dosage: Thin layer before lipstick | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

ColourPop LippieStix Primer

We also like ColourPop Lippie Stix. This primer leans on plant oils and natural butters to deliver deep moisture while helping to heal chapped lips.2 It also contains teensy-tiny beads that fill in lines to create a super-smooth base, preventing your lipstick from feathering and smudging.

Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, avocado oil, mango and shea butters | Dosage: Thin layer before lip color | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Covergirl Outlast Longwear Lipstick 500 Clear Coat

OK, this product isn’t actually a primer. But if you want your lip color to last, you’ll need to seal it in, and CoverGirl is up for the task. Like a nail polish top coat but for your lips, the moisturizing formula feels comfortable, looks shiny, and prevents fading for up to 24 hours.

Key Ingredients: Beeswax, coconut oil, aloe | Dosage: Thin coat before or after lip color | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Beauty Bakerie Sugar Lip Scrub

Beauty Bakerie

 

Sometimes, all you need before applying lipstick is a good scrub. This plant-based concoction from Beauty Bakerie contains real sugar, coconut oil, and castor oil to gently exfoliate and soften without irritating or drying out your lips.

Key Ingredients: Sucrose, coconut oil, castor oil  | Dosage: Massage small amount, wipe away excess | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

BLK/OPL Honey Dew Me Lip Oil

This gloss-like lip balm calls on shea butter and jojoba oil to heal and nourish chapped lips.² According to the maker, it also has a firming, line-smoothing effect. Apply it before or after lip color for moisturizing comfort and a dewy shine that holds up for hours.

Key Ingredients: Jojoba oil, shea butter, silica | Dosage: Thin coat as needed | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Maybelline Color Sensational Clear Shaping Lip Liner

 

The clear shade of Maybelline’s Shaping Lip Liner can be used as a primer to prevent feathering, bleeding, and smudging. It’s super easy to outline and define your lips, thanks to the self-sharpening mechanical design.

Key Ingredients: Silicone, wax | Dosage: Outline lips before lip color | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Almay Lip Treatment

Almay

If you’re planning to spend time outside, consider a primer with built-in sun protection. Almay’s SPF 30 formula provides instant moisture, fills in fine lines, and helps define your lips for more precise lipstick application.

Key Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, oxybenzone | Dosage: Liberal amount 15 minutes before sun exposure | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

TonyMoly Lip Treatment Stick

For those who wear lipstick often, we recommend using a nourishing treatment at least a couple times a week. This one from TonyMoly contains a blend of moisturizing and healing plant oils, plus plumping, line-reducing snail mucin,3 and a dose of collagen for good measure.

Key Ingredients: Snail secretion filtrate, plant oils, collagen, aloe | Dosage: Even coat as needed | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

NYX Professional Makeup Lip Primer is our number one pick. The velvety-soft lipstick base creates a smooth canvas and color-corrects with sheer pigments. That said, if you’re dealing with chapped or notably dry lips, it might be best to start with an exfoliating treatment, like Revlon Kiss.

 

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.45

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.6

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.

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.

 

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.