Typically when we think about lip gloss, our minds turn to the '80s or '90s versions that provided plenty of color and shine, but left us with hair stuck to our lips every time the wind blew. Thanks to advancements in beauty over the past couple of decades, such is not the case, and with new releases from brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills, NYX, Marc Jacobs and, of course, Kylie Cosmetics by Kylie Jenner, you can get the color payoff you want and keep the shine factor, sans all that stickiness.
Of course, there a few things to keep in mind when you're opting for a gloss over a lipstick (or liquid lipstick): Glosses will never stay on as long as a lipstick — not to say that there aren't long-lasting ones, but if put head-to-head, a matte lip will easily outwear a gloss. But, if you struggle with dry lips, you'll likely prefer a gloss because, well, they're glossy and hydrating. Plus, unlike lipsticks, they won't highlight flakiness. And lastly, if you're looking for shine, gloss is the way to go. This can help your lips to look larger than they really are, and can simply bolden the overall color effect.
Before I dive in and tell you about every gloss that I tried over the course of a month, I'll admit that I am generally not a lip gloss lover — I tend to go for long-wear lip color, and was convinced that this experiment would not convert me. Oh how wrong I was. I quickly found how I loved the look and feel of so many of the brands, and was impressed by their staying power — even through tacos and sushi. I tested a variety of brands in both neutral and bold shades for stickiness factor, staying power and ease of application. Below are the results, and at the end I'll reveal the overall winner.
Shiseido Lacquer Gloss, $25, available at sephora.com: This gloss from Shiseido is well-known for its high-shine payoff, and it didn't disappoint. The doe-foot applicator is flexible so it makes application easy, and provides a sheer tint of color — just don't expect the full wash of color that you see in the tube. But, it wasn't as sticky as the glosses of yesteryear, and the wash of color actually stays on the lips for a couple of hours before any need for touch-ups. Available in eight shades.
NYX Butter Gloss, $4.99, available at ulta.com: A YouTube guru favorite, this is basically the go-to drugstore gloss when you're in need. I chose to test out a darker shade and went with Red Wine Truffle, realizing that it required a bit of precision in the application. This was mainly because of two things: First, the applicator isn't flexible, and while it's a good doe-foot, you need a steady hand to draw within the lines of your lips. And two, it's an opaque gloss, so the formula drags a bit; you need to make sure you have an even coat before you smack your lips together or it will show. With those tips in mind, this gloss stayed on for over four hours (!) and through lunch (and coffee). It also smells vaguely fruity, which was a plus in my book. Available in 34 shades.
Marc Jacobs Beauty Enamored Hi-Shine Lip Gloss, $28, available at sephora.com: Marc Jacobs's gloss does exactly what its name implies — it delivers very high shine. Available in 18 different shades, many of which have a hint of shimmer to them, this lacquer applies sheer, but is really all about that shine-factor, not so much about a bold color. The doe-foot applicator has the perfect amount of flex to it for easy application, and the gloss has a divine mint scent in case you're without gum.
Buxom Full-On Lip Polish, $22, available at sephora.com: Another vlogger favorite, Buxom's lip gloss simultaneously helps to plump your lips while giving them a dose of color. The plumping sensation is real: my lips tingled the entire time the gloss lasted (which was about three hours) and intensified each time the wind blew. As for the color, it stayed put as well, and applied with ease. The applicator isn't as flexible, but the formula is so buildable that it doesn't matter. I always layered on a few coats before pushing my lips together to build up my color wattage. Buxom also has a sweet scent to it, which I loved, and is available in a whopping 99 shades.
MAKE UP FOR EVER
Make Up For Ever Artist Plexi-Gloss, $19, available at sephora.com: For Make Up For Ever's Artist Plexi-Gloss, I tried a bold shade knowing I wanted to test its longevity. First of all, the applicator is different than many that you'll see, and it was designed to help with precision on your upper lip. As for the gloss itself, it is available in 35 shades, from sheer to opaque. My personal favorite was an opaque orange-red (pictured) in shade 400. Considering that yes, this is a gloss, the hue went on shockingly smooth and lasted for a little over four hours — even through a sushi dinner.
ButterLONDON Plush Rush Lip Gloss, $20, available at ulta.com: ButterLONDON's Plush Rush glosses also include a plumping complex, hence the name. The complex certainly provides a tingly effect that lasted as long as the lip color — an impressive three to four hours. The flexible doe-foot made for easy application, and the gloss was high-shine yet not too sticky. Plus, while I thought the color would be a bold hue, it actually was a sheer violet, which is a better fit for a high-shine gloss. Available in 12 shades.
ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS
Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss, $16, available at sephora.com: Possibly the most beloved gloss of the moment, Anastasia Beverly Hills's Lip Gloss did not disappoint. The flexible doe-foot applied the vibrant color with ease, and while the gloss is a bit sticky, it melts into the lips so that in minutes it no longer has that feel. Plus, the best part — it lasts for hours. It withstood a bagel and a can of soda, and while a bit came off on the straw (and food), it was still on my lips. At the five-hour mark, I ended up having to wash it off before bed — a rare occurrence with a lip gloss. Available in 43 shades.
Flower Beauty Longwear Lip Crème, $7.58, available at walmart.com: A new release from Drew Barrymore's drugstore brand Flower Beauty, this gloss comes in a squeeze tube with a felt-tip applicator instead of the traditional doe-foot. The felt-tip actually was incredibly easy for application, and helped to evenly apply the gloss. As for the product itself, the color payoff was more than I expected out of a squeeze tube. It's an opaque gloss, and goes on so evenly it applies almost like a lipstick in just one swipe. While it's only available in five (mostly neutral) shades, it lasted three hours; the red, called My Red Lips, lasted just as long as my personal favorite, Sandbar.
Urban Decay Naked Ultra Nourishing Lip Gloss, $20, available at nordstrom.com: Urban Decay's Ultra Naked Nourishing Lip Gloss is that ideal gloss for the girl who wants a hybrid between a balm and a gloss. The name says it all: it's ultra nourishing. The high-shine gloss has a sheer tint of color, but it's honestly all about the moisture factor. The doe-foot applicator has a beveled edge to help with precise application, and it seems to just melt into your lips. You'll have to reapply this one if you want the color to stay — think of it more as a high-shine balm. Available in nine shades.
Kevyn Aucoin The Lip Gloss, $30, available at Nordstrom: Kevyn Aucoin's "The Lip Gloss" wins points for its pint-sized packaging. The opaque, high-shine shades instantly add color to your lips, and they manage to stay put for an hour or two if you're drinking or eating. The doe-foot applicator is more rounded than most, which helps to add color to the bottom lip or cupid's bow. It has a sticky feel at first, but because of the oils it's packed with for moisturizing benefits, it melts into your lips and you're not left with that stick-factor. Available in 20 shades.
So, who wins as the best gloss of today? If you're after overall color payoff, it's Anastasia Beverly Hills, hands-down. Between the shine and longevity of the gloss (and 40+ shades to choose from) the brand really can't be beat. But, if you're simply looking for that glossy look — especially if you don't like wearing lipsticks due to their dryness — go for Urban Decay's Naked, which will keep your lips hydrated and give you just the right hint of color. And finally, if you want to test the gloss waters, you cannot go wrong with NYX's Butter Gloss. From bold hues to neutral shades, the staying power isn't something to be scoffed at with this under $5 brand. Plus, it smells like candy, so win!
If you have lip glosses that you've sworn by for years (or new favorites) let me know in the comments below. Now that I'm a newly confessed gloss convert, I need to know what else to get my hands on.
Homepage photo: @butterlondon/Instagram