Buying Guide for Lip Glosses
Why buy lip gloss?
If you’re a serious makeup junkie, you know this is a question that needs no answer. But if you’re dipping your toes into the makeup world, lip gloss is one of the many lip products you can choose. Shinier than a traditional lipstick and often just as hydrating as a balm, a good lip gloss can offer a variety of functions, including hydration, color pigmentation, and even boosting the look and feel of your lips with continued use.
What should you look for in a lip gloss?
- Finish: Lip gloss isn’t a one-size-fits-all category. While it usually offers more shine than a balm or lipstick, the reality is that they come in various textures and finishes. You can have a standard gloss, ultra gloss, a satin finish (like a traditional lipstick), and technically speaking, you can even have matte lip glosses. However, these are usually known as liquid lipsticks.
- Color: Consider what color you want to have on your lips, as some glosses are clear while others offer bold and vibrant or subdued and elegant tints. Also, consider whether you want a sheer or opaque finish. A sheer lip gloss will look like you have a hint of color, but your lips will still show through, which can be ideal if you want a more subdued effect. Meanwhile, opaque colors are designed to cover your lips, meaning that once applied fully, your natural lip color won’t be visible.
- Plumping: This won’t be a pro for everyone, but if you like the idea of a fuller pout but aren’t ready for fillers or surgery, you can opt for a lip gloss that plumps. Usually, these glosses will contain ingredients like cayenne pepper or wintergreen oil, two naturally derived ingredients that can boost your kisser. The downside is that not everyone likes the tingling or burning sensation these glosses create when applied.
- Wear: It’s not as common to find budge-proof lip glosses that aren’t matte or satin finish. However, it is possible. Still, you’ll want a lip gloss that doesn’t fade after just an hour of wear. At the same time, you don’t want a lip gloss that stains your lips, as this can make removing the lip gloss equally frustrating.
- Wand Style: Different products have different wand sizes and shapes, which impact the distribution of the product on your lips and the number of swipes you’ll need to coat your lips fully. This might be a little nitpicky, but the wand is something to consider if it’s something you care about. A popular option these days is a doe foot applicator which is wider and provides more coverage with a single swipe.
What are some tips to prep your lips for lip gloss?
The most important factor for applying any lip makeup is that your lips should be smooth and hydrated. Dry, chapped lips and lip products don’t mix. And in some cases, depending on the ingredients (think lip-plumping glosses), applying product on chapped or raw lips can be incredibly painful. Before applying any lip product, always make sure that your lips have been properly exfoliated and moisturized. You can invest in a lip scrub product to remove flaky skin or use a dry soft-bristled toothbrush brush to gently lift flaky skin on your lip. Follow up with a moisturizing balm and wait a few minutes before applying a gloss. Moisturizing your lips is especially important if you’re using a matte liquid lip, as these products can be incredibly drying.
Our Picks for the Best Lip Glosses
NYX Professional Makeup Butter Gloss
A fan favorite with ultra hydration and endless color choices.
Pros: Whether you’re looking for quality color payoff or need to keep those smackers hydrated, NYX Professional Makeup Butter Gloss is a fan favorite for a reason—it works, and the color options are endless. Along with an astounding 30 shades, this pick offers sheer glossy color, which can be built to a medium finish. More importantly, thirsty lips will be properly hydrated.
Cons: Because of how the product sits on the lips, more vibrant hues might not look as great as neutral hues.
Bottom Line: This should be a go-to that you keep in your bag that you reach for whenever your lips get a bit dry or you want to add a sheer wash of color.
Maybelline Lifter Gloss Hydrating Lip Gloss with Hyaluronic Acid
Perfect with the hero ingredient hyaluronic acid.
Pros: If you’re not familiar with all the benefits of hyaluronic acid, you will want to get a crash course. Maybelline’s Lifter Gloss not only gives you a fuller pout but works to boost lip moisture thanks to the super ingredient hyaluronic acid. Available in 20 shades, you’ll get sheer color coverage and several metallic shimmer shades.
Cons: While cayenne pepper, menthol, and wintergreen oil are common options for lip glosses, Maybelline does not use any of those natural ingredients in its product.
Bottom Line: If you’re concerned about chronically dry lips and want to boost your mouth’s profile, Maybelline’s Lifter Gloss offers a two-for-one punch in that department.
e.l.f. Lip Plumping Gloss
Affordable and effective lip gloss for makeup lovers.
Pros: e.l.f. is another one of those fan-favorite brands that built their name by revitalizing life into drugstore brands. If you like the idea of a lip-plumping gloss but not the sticker shock, their Lip Plumping Gloss is a wallet-friendly solution. Along with boosting your lip profile, it incorporates vitamin E and coconut oil to nourish dry lips. Better still, it’s a great vegan pick.
Cons: One of the biggest drawbacks with this plumping lip gloss is the limited shade range. More importantly, feedback about the plumping feature ranged from ineffective to uncomfortable.
Bottom Line: Budget beauties will like the accessible price point of this lip plumping gloss from e.l.f. Cosmetics.
Rimmel Stay Glossy 6 Hour Lip Gloss
A bold gloss that won't disappear in an hour.
Pros: There’s nothing more frustrating than having to reapply lip gloss every so often. The Rimmel Stay Glossy 6 Hour Lip Gloss promises that you’ll get six hours of wear out of a single application. Along with a wallet-friendly price point, this product can be layered with other colors or worn alone. Choose from 22 different shades.
Cons: Although this product will stay for extended wear, it’s a heavier texture which can be a bit sticky. Also, it does have a smell that many have described as chemical in nature.
Bottom Line: Rimmel’s Stay Glossy lip gloss is a solid choice if you’re in the market for an affordable lip gloss that stays put and doesn’t require constant reapplications.
Sara Happ The Ballet Slip One Luxe Gloss
A lip gloss that boosts lip health while adding a touch of color.
Pros: Not all lip glosses are just about plumping or adding a pop of color. The Sara Happ The Ballet Slip gloss is designed to improve the look and feel of your lips while also adding a sheer wash of color. With four colors to choose from, you’ll get glosses that are long-lasting and infused with almond, jojoba, and macadamia nut oils.
Cons: This is a pricier option.
Bottom Line: For those in need of serious lip TLC, the infusion of three moisture-rich hydrating oils will be a much-needed relief.
Lip gloss is more than just a vanity product; it’s essential. Whether you prefer bold shades or something that’s barely there, a good lip gloss keeps your lips hydrated and healthy. There are plenty of options to show your lips a little love.