I absolutely love lip products. This sounds like a simple sentiment, but before I was a makeup junkie (those dark, old days from long ago), I always was more visually attracted to eye makeup. Fierce shadow/liner/lashes combinations are still to die for, but bright, bold lips have earned an equally special place in my heart. (Well, some more than others.) In this Beginner’s Guide, I’m going to introduce the different cosmetic items intended for the lips, and make a few recommendations.
On a spectrum from most to least basic, there is:
1) Lip Balm: Even the women with the most simple, basic makeup routines tend to reach for lip balm. In fact, I’d say women who otherwise forgo makeup completely probably use balm regularly. Many balms are made with beeswax. The wax is designed to provide a barrier over the lips, sealing in moisture and preventing outside irritants, such as wind or cold temperature, from drying out the lips even further. A common misconception is that balm actually restores moisture to the mouth. This is not true; Balm simply prevents further dehydration of the lips. This explains the need for continuous reapplication in the case of severely dry lips. Over the years, balms have developed to include sunscreen benefits, as well as tints, flavors, and much cuter packaging.
Chapstick was the first to market lip balm in the 1880s and remains popular today. Burt’s Bees and Carmex are also classic balm brands. Lip Smackers are filled with deliciously-scented and wondefully flavored childhood nostaliga. In recent years, EOS’ spherical balms and Maybelline’s Baby Lips have become very popular. I highly recommend the latter, despite it’s higher-than-average price. The packaging is adorable, and there is a generous amount of product included. Baby :Lips smell great, and feel very emollient on the mouth.
2) Lip Gloss: Gloss is another product that most of us are familiar with, often beginning our makeup-loving careers with some (in hindsight) pretty horrible frosty/glittery ones in our early teens. Gloss is designed, as the name implies, to add a glossy sheen to the mouth. Various finishes have developed over time, including the aforementioned glittery and frosty looks. But there are simpler textures; often times, gloss just adds various degrees of shiny pigment. The most basic lip glosses are clear. They can range from this to completely opaque, some include shimmer, others do not. They’re a versatile product suiting a variety of needs. That, plus the toned-down look of a gloss (compared to more pigment-rich lipstick) tends to make them popular with teenagers attending school. Lip gloss can be packaged in hard plastic tubes with screw-on caps that reveal (often doe-foot applicator) wands, or softer, squeeze-tube products that are designed to be applied directly on the mouth. Using a lip brush is also an option when it comes to applying this type of product. Gloss ranges in texture, from tackier (think MAC) to milkier (think NARS).
MAC Tinted Lipglass, NARS lip gloss, Lancome Juicy Tubes, and OCC Lip Tars are established, popular picks when it comes to this type of product. However, there are some great drugstore lip glosses. Maybelline Color Sensational and Revlon Super Lustrous lip glosses are both affordable, easily-accessible, and great quality.
3) Lip Stain: Stains are long-wearing products that leave a subtler color than lipstick (but stronger, and matter, than gloss). These tend to come in pencil forms and can be “drawn” onto the lips. However, alternative formulas, such as liquid stains, also exist. These can sometimes fly under a beauty junkie’s radar, as they seem less popular and have an unfortunate reputation for being drying. The length of wear, without sacrificing color, makes this type of product great for busier, or less “fussy” women, who don’t have time or the desire to reapply their makeup throughout the day. Stains are also great for dinner dates, since they’re more transfer-proof and won’t dissolve throughout the meal or kiss off. While stains do have a softer finish than lipstick, they’re not all matte; some stains retain a nice, subtle sheen.
Tarte Lipsurgence is a popular high-end stain. Benefit Benetint, which comes in a nail polish-like screw-top container with a brush applicator, is also well-known and often used. Recently, Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain was released in drugstores and is doing quite well. Unfortunately, I have zero experience with stains, and can’t make a personal recommendation.
4) Lip Liner: Lip liner, unfortunately, always seemed like a product for old people to me. As my cosmetic knowledge grew, I realized that this helpful tool was useful to others, not just grandmas going to bingo. Liner, often wax-based, is designed to provide a base for lipstick/gloss. This base keeps the overlaying product from unflattering bleeding and feathering, giving lip color a precise shape. Also, when used to fill in the entire mouth (as opposed to outlining the lip shape), liner provides a long-wearing hint of color that can outlast lipstick or gloss, reducing the need to reapply as the top layer of color fades (since the matching liner underneath will remain). Liners come in a variety of hues, designed to match popular lipstick shades (think pink, red, and nude color families). However, there are also clear lip liners, which act as sheer primers for the lips, while retaining the anti-bleeding benefits.
MAC pencils are quite popular, and Too Faced Perfect Lips are highly rated online as well. On the more affordable end, Rimmel 1000 Kisses Stay On Lip Liner has left a positive impression on me. Unfortunately, I also have no experience with liner this far. 😦
5) Lipstick: Probably the most well-known and iconic of lip products, lipsticks are my absolute favorite thing to wear on the mouth. I love the color range of lipsticks (I’m a total sucker for pinks!), as well as the pigment and sheen variation of different brands. It’s the versatility of this product that makes it such a staple and well-loved item for many women. Sheerer nude shades are very professional-looking, reds are classic and bold, pinks are playful and feminine, etc. Bolder colors, such as purple (in all it’s varieties-plum, lilac, violet) and browns have been having their time in the sun lately as well. There is a finish for every woman’s needs as well. Matte (no shimmer/glitter/sheen, just pure, bold color) are strong, fun, and many women say, empowering (but this long-wearing formula can, unfortunately, be drying). Frost finishes are metallic, bold and modern. Glaze-like lipsticks have a glossy sheen, but compromise pigment (these tend to be sheer, varying from gloss mostly in texture). Cream lipsticks are the standard, providing solid pigment with a subtle shine, applying smoothly to the lips. Your troubles with a lipstick can depend on the brand and formula. Some lesser quality lippies can settle into lip lines, bunch up on themselves, bleed/feather, transfer, be too sheer (or too pigmented), or dry out the lips over time, making them appear cracked and flaky. While most come in twist-up tubes, liquid lipsticks and lipstick pencils exist as well.
MAC, every beauty junkie’s gateway drug, makes wonderful lipsticks in a large variety of shades and formulas. However, lippies are one item that drugstore brands have been knocking out of the park lately. Cover Girl Lip Perfection, Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter, Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Color, and Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick are all great, affordable, and accessible.
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