I am no fan of matte lip products. Luster-less finishes look harsh, feel worse, and leave my lips a dried-out mess. Still, not wanting to be on the sidelines of the biggest lip trend of the last couple of years, I’ve tried the latest matte-finish products … but alas, to no avail. Traditional lipsticks with a matte finish drag across the lips on application; the high alcohol content of lip stains evaporates off and wicks volume and fullness; and liquid lipsticks, with their viscous mouse texture, look innocuous enough until they inevitably dry down like glue.
I prefer the high shine of Jerry Hall’s lips in almost any photo of her from the 1970s. Shiny, glossy lips simply look better, smoother, and fuller. While I don’t buy into the notion that lip gloss is for beginners, I will concede it’s easy to use with zero learning curve. I love the slippery glide that goes with a glass-like finish, and the soothing, nourishing hydration of emollient products. It’s not surprising then that few things have made me as happy recently as the new shimmery, lacquered items to hit the makeup counters.
Before trying Marc Jacobs Beauty’s Enamored Hydrating Lip Gloss Stick ($28, Sephora), I would have bet money that gloss and stick were mutually exclusive concepts. At the very least I’d argue that together they are what we call lip balm. I was wrong. What looks like a sheer balm in the bullet is indeed a highly pigmented, long-lasting gloss. It looks great, thanks to the teardrop-shaped applicator that allows for precision use, and feels great. The light mint scent/flavor dissipates so quickly that even I — averse to all mint products — can’t object. My only complaint is I’d like more than eight shades.
For a modern take on the traditional gloss try Chanel’s reformulated Rouge Coco Gloss Moisturizing Glossimer ($30, Neiman Marcus). It delivers high shine without being sticky or stringy and has the best doe foot applicator around: It’s wide with a center depression that holds more product than your average wand. These glosses come in a variety of colors, from barely tinted to fully pigmented, all with Chanel’s traditional rose scent (which is light enough here to not be cloying).
I don’t loveDior’s Addict Lacquer Plump ($37, Macy’s) as much as I’d like to, but I do appreciate the effort. The promise of a long-wearing, lip-plumping, high shine stain is a lot for one product to deliver. I haven’t noticed much plump while wearing this lacquer, but I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of shine and stain. Anyone who picked up the Dior Addict Lip Tattoo — it was released last year — will recognize the same tinting action, but now with a slick gleam.
Tom Ford’s Ultrashine Lip Color ($55, Saks Fifth Avenue) strikes me as a lipstick-lip-balm-lip-gloss hybrid with the easy, weightless moisturizing of a balm, color of a lipstick, and shine of a lip gloss. In other words, Ultrashine is the perfect product.
Every new additon to the Pat McGrath Labs collection becomes my gold standard and its new lip glosses are no different. The LUST: Lip Glosses ($28, Sephora) come in glitter, high shine, and shimmer finishes. I like the shimmer finish in Pale Fire Nectar, which is so packed full of pink-to-orange-duochrome microglitter you might not notice the gloss itself is clear. And don’t worry: The glitter is too fine to feel; you get all the pretty color shifting and none of the gritty texture. All the glosses are vapor light — even the highly pigmented, high-shine Blood 2 (the perfect blue-based red) feels like nothing on the lips. These glosses are soothing and contain no stick or tack, yet manage to shine on the lips for hours.