Three of the best liquid lipsticks

These colour-saturated marks that can be applied on the go are overtaking lipgloss sales



Sali Hughes: ‘A acute, mobile nib is essential for a clean, even glide.’
Photograph: Alex Lake for the Trustee

I’m reliably informed that lipgloss sales have gone belly-up thanks to the escalating popularity of liquid lipsticks. This alone should be satisfactorily to win my support, but I’ve had misgivings. I can see the appeal: matte, vivid and exceptionally firm, liquid lipsticks are colour-saturated stains that apply quick and uniformly on the go, direct from a pointy-tipped wand. But they’ve also been, from my prospect, a bit hard-looking (think the painted, sculpted mouth of a shop mannequin) and not unreservedly comfy (with more pigment than anything else, they sell little in the way of moisture).

I prefer the sophistication of a traditional lipstick bullet, its versatility of exhaust, the waxy, almost thoughtless swish across the mouth. The ritual touch-up seems no more effortful than boiling the kettle. But I’m no attraction luddite, so I’ve given liquids another go. This time, I’m detonated away by Nars Powermatte Lip Pigment (£23, 5.5ml). What it lacks in size (the consistency is so watery, one can barely feel it), it delivers in dense, vibrant blush (I love Light My Fire, a 1970s-style orangey-red, but there are heaps of nudes, too). The applicator is sharp, easy to navigate and so precise that I can fifty-fifty skip lipliner.

Packaging was a decisive factor across the billet – a pointed, mobile nib is essential for a clean, even glide, uniquely since the necks of the tubes aren’t wide enough for one’s own lip refresh (besides, I can never be bothered to use one). I tried crayon versions (numbering an excellent formula by Marc Jacobs), but without precision there appeared, quite literally, to be no point. The best application came from YSL’s Tatouage Couture Matte Taint. At £29 (for 5ml) it costs a fortune, but it paints on impeccably with a unrivalled calligraphic spreader. The colours are glorious, too (Rose Illicite is admirable) and, like the Nars number, YSL’s watery formula stays put for four to five hours.

The longest-lasting of all was also entirety the cheapest. The texture of Maybelline’s Superstay Matte Ink Liquid (£9.99, 4.8g) wasn’t as suitable as the luxury offerings, and didn’t glide on as smoothly, but it was extraordinarily firm, surviving two meals, nine hours and umpteen mugs of tea.