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Like many other beauty trends that have come a long way since the early Aughts (we’re looking at you, brows!), lip gloss has made major progress. No longer the sticky, heavy formulas of yesteryear, you don’t have to worry about your hair getting stuck in your lip gloss anymore. The best lip glosses have gotten a major upgrade, pampering your pucker with hydrating ingredients while delivering high shine.
“Originally, glossy lips were created on film by the actors continually licking their lips,” says Lori Taylor Davis, Global Pro Lead Artist, Smashbox Cosmetics. “Modern formulas are longer wearing, pigment dense, non-tacky, and some plump and condition as well. The modern gloss has conditioning ingredients that add to the health of the lips over time.”
Swiping on a lip gloss is an easy way to instantly glow up your entire face. Glossy lips look fuller, helping you fake a more pillowy pout. “Everyone should have a lip gloss in their bag because it’s the easiest way to amp up your look, even if it’s just a sheer gloss,” says RÓEN CEO and co-founder Tiffany Thurston Scott. “Plus, a nourishing lip gloss can protect your lips from drying out. Glosses attract the eye to the lips immediately and when lips have color on them, they appear fuller and eye-catching.”
One of the best things about lip glosses is how easy they are to apply. Most lip glosses come with applicators that are designed to deliver the perfect application, dabbing on exactly the right amount. “Whether you’re using lip gloss or even just lip balm, it’s always best to start with smooth lips,” Scott recommends. “An easy way to exfoliate your lips is to simply rub them with a damp washcloth. If you’re looking for high shine, apply a full sweep of gloss across your bottom lip and rub your lips together. For a more low-key look, apply a small amount to your bottom lip and rub your lips together. This gives you more of a lip sheen rather than the full gloss effect.”
Depending on the type of gloss you opt for, it can even replace your lipstick. “Some gloss formulas have a lacquered appearance, which can take the place of adding additional lip color as the base for a lip look,” Davis says. As for the latest trend, according to Davis, it’s all about gloss formulas that work with the skin’s pH levels to lend a customized flush of glossy color.
To build up your lip gloss wardrobe, you’ll want a few options in your makeup bag. A nude, a sheer red, and a “your lips but better” shades covers the basics. “Keeping a classic lip gloss color in your bag is a must, such as a nude or light pink—they’re the perfect daytime essentials,” Scott says. “But you shouldn’t be afraid to play around with color, whether it’s a fabulous berry shade or red. If you don’t normally venture out to brighter shades, try applying just a touch to your lips and smacking them together and you’ll get just a hint of the color on your lips.”
We’ve rounded up a little bit of everything with these best lip glosses.
1. Smashbox Gloss Angeles Extra Shine Lip Gloss
A clear lip gloss is a true makeup bag must, and this Smashbox superstar is one of the best clear lip glosses out there. “A non-sticky high shine clear gloss, it can be used on the eyes, cheeks and lips,” Davis says. The multitasker delivers a gorgeous sheen wherever you swipe it on. Even better, it feels as good as it looks, since the serum-esque formula is light as a feather. Sport it solo or over lipstick.
2. RÓEN Kiss My Liquid Lip Balm
Another way lip gloss has come a long way is the availability of clean formulas. “The most important evolution I have seen with lip glosses—and makeup, in general—is more options are available for clean products that are equally as high performing, if not better, than conventional products,” Scott says. “Brands that develop clean lip glosses have proven they can have the same high shine and pigment but without many harmful ingredients. Since we all tend to re-apply our lip gloss multiple times a day, it is particularly important that the product be as clean as possible. Through our skin, we actually ingest the chemicals and ingredients that are in our lip gloss.” This RÓEN gloss fits the bill with ingredients like mango and grapeseed oils to nourish lips.
3. Tower 28 Beauty ShineOn Jelly Lip Gloss
Are you ready for this jelly? With just the right sheer wash of color, the XOXO shade is the best pink lip gloss. “Coconut is the perfect pink and Cashew is a warm nude that’s great for all skin tones,” Davis adds. You might want to collect them all. The clean formula is non-sticky and hydrating. There’s apricot kernel oil to soothe lips, raspberry seed oil to safeguard from free radical damage and environmental aggressors, and rosehip oil, which is rich in vitamins A and E.
4. Dior Addict Lip Maximizer Plumping Gloss
Looking for the best plumping lip gloss? This glam tube that comes in a range of shades will do the trick. Whether you opt for the high shine or shimmer finish, it will add volume to your pucker. The formula is spiked with volumizing spheres of hyaluronic acid, which not only help fake a fuller pout, but also deeply hydrate, delivering comfortable wear. For a touch of freshness, the plumping lip gloss has a minty scent.
5. Glossier Lip Gloss
Essentially the prom queen of the best clear lip glosses, Glossier’s Lip Gloss wins the popularity contest. The high-shine gloss has serious staying power but feels comfortable thanks to its soft formula. Jojoba oil and vitamin E work to keep your pout moisturized. The fuzzy doe-foot applicator picks up the perfect amount of gloss in a single swoop for easy application. In addition to clear, it also comes in a holographic finish, red, and gold for a subtle shimmer.
6. Buxom Full-On Plumping Lip Polish Gloss
Turn up the volume with this best plumping lip gloss. The best-seller comes in a variety of hues and three finishes: high shine, shimmer, and glitter. A tingle lets you know it’s working to plump your pucker, courtesy of a peptide complex. The formula is also spiked with vitamins A and E to hydrate, so lips are pillowy and soft. Swipe it on for some serious shine and splendor.
7. Yves Saint Laurent Water Stain Lip Stain
Davis loves this lip stain in a flush red for the pop of color, though it’s equally pretty in Wet Vermilion, a blood orange, or Cascade Bordeaux, a deep burgundy, to name a few options. The unique formula is a water-enriched lip stain that’s incredibly light yet provides high-shine color that never feels tacky. Thanks to the infusion of water and gliding oils, it slides right onto the lips, leaving them hydrated and comfortable. The curved applicator ensures you’ll get a precise-looking pucker every time.
8. Kjaer Weis Lip Gloss
“When I’m in the mood to really go for it, I love the Kjaer Weiss lip gloss in Red Hot,” Scott says. “It’s such a good evening amped-up shade. And the texture is really nice.” The semi-sheer warm red gloss has a high shine finish. Certified organic, it’s loaded with ingredients like castor and rosehip seed oils to nourish, hydrate and add fullness. There’s also vitamin E to firm your pucker and safeguard it from environmental stressors.
9. Fenty Beauty By Rihanna Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer
From the very inception of Fenty Beauty, Rihanna has always made her line impressively inclusive (that game changing foundation range!) and this lip gloss is no exception. It comes in six shades, from clear to shimmering nudes and pinks, and each is designed to work on every skin tone. The non-sticky formula is infused with shea butter to infuse lips with moisture, leaving them looking fuller and smoother. The glosses glide right on and have a peach vanilla scent that leaves you wanting more. Another perk: the formula is free of parabens and phthalates, plus it’s cruelty-free.
10. Stila Beauty Boss Lip Gloss
Formulas that volumize your lips are notorious for that stinging, burning sensation, but Stila Beauty Boss Lip Gloss brings the same look sans any unpleasant side effects. It relies on hyaluronic filling spheres and oils for a natural-looking plumpness. The high-tech formula also has light-refracting, iridescent pearls to amp up the dimension and color.
11. Armani Beauty Ecstasy Mirror Lip Gloss
This checks off all the boxes, making it one of the best lip glosses: It promises shine, color and hydration. And it just takes one stroke with its foolproof applicator with a pointed tip for accuracy and a curved body that evenly coats lips. Armani Beauty’s Light Feel System Technology brings light, comfortable wear for a whopping 10 hours. Its powerful pigments wear like a stain and the shine lives up to its mirror moniker.
12. Lancôme Juicy Tubes
The OG lip gloss is back! One of the best lip glosses of all time, Lancôme’s beloved Juicy Tubes practically has a cult following. Boasting the same high shine as the original, it contains vitamin E to soften and moisturize lips for up to four hours. The tube applicator makes it easy to apply anytime, anywhere without a mirror. It’s available in 10 flavors and three finishes.
13. Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss
A clever dual-sided applicator, with the curved side on the bottom and rounded side on top, makes putting on this lip gloss twice as easy to get even, exact coverage. It’ll leave your lips prettier after you wear it thanks to the infusion of coconut oil, peptides and vitamin E, along with Chanel’s exclusive Hydraboost Complex that keeps lips hydrated and comfortable. Never sticky and always shiny, Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss plumps lips while delivering a brilliant gleam.
14. Maybelline New York Lifter Gloss
When the ingredient profile is all about hyaluronic acid, you know Maybelline New York Lifter Gloss takes hydration seriously. That explains why it visibly boosts the lip contour and smooths while delivering high impact shine. Its XL Wand makes application a cinch. The shade range has you covered, from Pearl, a clear luminescent, to bronzy Crystal.
15. MAC Cosmetics Lipglass
Another OG favorite, Lipglass earned plenty of spots in makeup bags back in the day for creating lips that look like liquid. Nothing has changed about that glassy finish. Packed with pigment, the formula has jojoba oil to condition lips. Available in 20 shades, it covers all the color bases. Wear it solo for a delicate wash of color or layer it over lipstick for a bolder look.
16. Nars Lip Gloss
Luminous lips with a tint of color will be yours with this gorgeous gloss from Nars. With 30 shades on offer in a high shine or shimmer finish, they offer it all: clear, neutrals, nudes and brights. Enriched with lip-loving ingredients for long lasting wear, such as anti-aging sea lavender, it smooths fine lines while hydrating. Non-sticky and smoothing, it’s one of the best lip glosses out there.