Is any lipstick worth £100? FEMAIL gives their verdict
17th July 2019

Is any lipstick worth £100? FEMAIL gives their verdict on the most coveted luxury beauty products

  • Melanie McDonagh gave her verdict on a selection of the costliest lipsticks
  • She says many are more fashion accessories than beauty cosmetics
  • Among the most impressive on sale is La Bouche Rouge’s £122 refillable lipstick

So, how much would you pay for a lipstick? Up to £10? See you in Boots. Up to £20? That’s good value nowadays, if it’s a top name. Up to £30? That’s the price range of most designer brands. Personally, I’d pay about £25.

And how much further would you go? £40? That is what’s charged for a few designer names. £60? £70? I know, this is the price of a pair of shoes, but some lipsticks really do cost this much.

But what about £100? You may want to sit down here, because the most expensive brands do charge this much: New York perfumer Bond No. 9 has a lipstick in a refillable case, plus a refill, at £95.

Even steeper is Parisian firm La Bouche Rouge, which sells an empty refillable case and one lipstick insert for £122.

Melanie McDonagh tried a selection of the costliest lipsticks, including la bouche rouge (pictured), £122, which comes in a leather case

Going over the £100 barrier for a lipstick just sounds silly. But what do you get for that? Exclusivity, obviously. And, of course, it must be an exceptional product: strong pigments, good texture, an excellent range of colours and — this is the important thing — eco-credentials.

We discard a billion lipstick cases annually worldwide. Now, though, the top lipsticks are refillable, tapping into the new trend for green awareness. This means you buy one chic case and lipstick refills that come in cardboard packaging. The cases are crucial: either pure bling for show-offs or discreetly luxurious. They’re more fashion accessories than cosmetics.

Most important, though, is what goes into the product (natural oils and butters) and what is left out (environmentally damaging nasties). For instance, La Bouche Rouge is ‘free from micro-plastics, preservatives, parabens and animal fats’.

It makes you wonder why affordable brands can’t do this, too. All cases should be refillable. Guerlain’s Rouge G cases are, and they cost just £18, with refills at £26.

And why should any lipstick contain nasties? A £100 lipstick may be too extravagant for most, but there are lessons here for the whole industry.

We tried some of the most expensive lipsticks, plus two more affordable ones, and then rated them for lipstick quality and bling factor. So can a lip colour ever be worth £100?

la bouche rouge

£122; refills £32

The canny creators of La Bouche Rouge have designed it so you can’t use the refill without the case — so you must buy both.

But for your £122, you don’t get only a fashion statement, you get a (French) philosophy in a lipstick. The packaging tells you to ‘affirm your revolutionary spirit… aspire to the artistic and intellect…engage in a socially responsible act’. What?

This was the purest product in our trial, with no paraben-style nasties. It is also beeswax free — ‘in a stand against the exploitation of bees’. You were worried about that, weren’t you?

The case is leather (in a range of pretty colours, from powder blue to stylish tan) or vegan (black) with a little mirror at the end and a magnetic closure.

It feels discreetly expensive. The texture is creamy, the colours chic. You can also commission your own lip colour for £64, and it is made specially for you in Paris.

A discreet product, which only beauty buffs will recognise.

Lipstick: 9/10

Bling: 8/10

Serge Lutens

Fard a Levres lipstick, £58 for the case and one lipstick insert; refills £34

Serge Lutens (pictured) range of lipsticks come in cases that are half the size of your thumb, Melanie rated the £58 cosmetic 9/10

Serge Lutens is a creative genius best known for his excellent fragrances, but he also has a brilliant way with make-up.

His new lipstick range is quite different from the norm. First, the cases are tiny — about half the size of your thumb — black and octagonal, but the strength of the pigment means they last brilliantly, so a little goes a long way.

Really interesting colours, too, if a little scary at first sight.

Lipstick: 9/10

Bling: 7/10

Christian Louboutin

£70 for a non-refillable lipstick

The non-refillable lipsticks by Christian Louboutin (pictured) cost £70 and can also be worn around the neck, Melanie rated its bling 9/10

This signature red lipstick from the man famous for his crimson-soled shoes is a terrific colour, and will suit most women.

The case, with a long ribbon attached just in case you want to wear it, isn’t for everyone — would you pop a pointy shape with a kind of crown on it around your neck, even with a lipstick inside? Not me.

On the plus side, some customers in the U.S. say they feel safer wearing it.

Lipstick: 8/10

Bling: 9/10


Rouge G de Guerlain, £18 for an empty case; refills £26

Guerlain (pictured) has lipsticks for just £18, Melanie says their case is her favourite because it doubles as a mirror 

This is my favourite case — good shape, solid feel and a brilliant double mirror built into the cap.

It feels more expensive than it is.

All Guerlain lipsticks are excellent, and the refills come in a range of textures — from satin to metallic — and colours.

Since 2007, the French firm has been committed to Bee Respect, a project working to reduce the environmental impact of its products and to encourage biodiversity. So, hello natural ingredients and bye-bye single-use lipstick cases.

Lipstick: 8/10

Bling: 8/10

Bond no. 9

£95 for a lipstick in a case and one lipstick insert; refills £40

The £95 Bond no. 9 (pictured) comes in a range of flattering reds and pinks, Melanie gave the lipstick a rating of 8/10

This has the most striking case — gold, with a chain pendant attached to pull the lipstick out. It closes magnetically and with a satisfying snap — but there’s no mirror.

The colours are excellent, in flattering tones of red and pink, and it has a matte texture, goes on evenly and lasts perhaps four hours. It’s vegan-friendly, too.

The refills come in simple cardboard cases, which are quite stylish; you could even skip the fancy case and just — just! — spend £40 on the refill, which is available online.

Even the packaging is bling: a box covered in lips with a magnetic closing. This is the lipstick with the greatest show-off potential.

Lipstick: 8/10

Bling: 9/10

Kilian Le Rouge Parfum

Scented lipstick, £42 for a non-refillable case

Kilian Le Rouge Parfum (pictured) is fragrant, Melanie rated the nonrefillable lipstick 8/10

Here’s one you may not have come across before: lipstick with fragrance. And not any old scent, either — Kilian is primarily an expensive perfume brand and the scent of this (neroli and vanilla) is intriguing, but not obtrusive.

The lipsticks are all knockout reds, mainly the killer sort you would wear at night, with names like Aphrodisiac Rouge and Dangerous Rouge.

The case is elegant: embossed black and nice and heavy — but not refillable. The lipstick comes in matte or cream textures; the matte lasts longer.

Lipstick: 8/10

Bling: 8/10


Customised lipstick, £75; refill, if you bring back the case, £30

Code8 (pictured) is available for £75 at London’s Burlington Arcade and in a pop-up shop in Knightsbridge, Melanie rated its bling just 6/10

This really is a personalised lipstick, which is made in front of you by a make-up artist who blends pigments with a palette knife like a painter. Fascinating.

First, you talk about the colour you’re after — or bring in a discontinued lipstick you like — and then it is blended until you’re happy with it.

Next, it’s put into a mould and is ready to go in about 30 minutes. Then you can name your very own colour.

Once the product is made up, the company keeps the formula and you can reorder it for £35, or £30 if you return the original case for refilling.

There’s a choice of finishes: matte or cream. The matte is long-lasting, velvety, non-drying and vegan, while the cream contains beeswax, which is fine by me. Sorry.

Simple black case. Sadly, as yet it’s available only in London’s Burlington Arcade and in a pop-up shop in Knightsbridge.

Lipstick: 8/10

Bling: 6/10

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