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Super glossy lips at the fall 2016 Dior runway show.
Super glossy lips at the fall 2016 Dior runway show.
Photo: Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/Getty Images

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Lip Gloss Is Being Disrupted

You're going to want shiny lips.

Lip gloss hasn't been cool since the early aughts. Yes Kylie Jenner launched a few that sold out, but matte remains the lip texture of choice lately. There's a perception that the gooey product is neither chic nor sophisticated, inappropriate unless you're 1) prepubertal, 2) Britney Spears, or 3) you read the news on-air professionally.

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Slowly but surely, however, lip gloss has been trying to fight its way back to relevance. Mintel, a consumer market research agency, released a 2015 report that noted, "women are more likely to be regular wearers of lipstick, while use of lip gloss and lip balm tends to be more occasional." But lip gloss is catching up. In a Mintel survey of 1,052 female internet users over 18, 37% used lipstick regularly while 29% used lip gloss regularly.

Lip gloss showed up in all of its lacquer-like glory on some of the biggest fall 2016 runways, like Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Max Mara, usually with a mirror-like finish on top of a dark color. According to Tom Sapin, a MAC senior artist, gloss is "an amazing way to add dimension to the lip." In other words, it visually plumps them up.

And makeup companies, if recent launches are any indication, definitely want to see shiny lips again. They're taking some interesting measures (no glitter, please) to try to pry everyone away from their NARS Velvet Matte lip pencils.


Photos: Dior/Tom Ford Beauty

The key to getting people to consider lip gloss again is to not call it lip gloss. Look at strobing. Most makeup artists scoff at the term, and have rightly noted that it's just a new way to describe highlighting. But it worked, and highlighters are all the rage right now.

So this season, you won't be buying lip gloss. You'll be buying Tom Ford's Patent Finish Lip Color ($52), Lancome's Pigment Infused Bi-Phase Lip Oil (aka Juicy Shakers) ($21), Dior Addict Milky Tint ($35), YSL Volupte Tint-in-Oil ($32), and Clinique's Pop Oil Glow ($18) Make no mistake: they're all shiny, but they're not lip gloss.


Photo: Clinique

All of the above products are pleasantly, delightfully, thankfully not the slightest bit sticky, partially thanks to beauty's new obsession with oil. Lip oils, as the name suggests, are oil-based and shiny without that gooey quality that pretty much assures your hair will be stuck in it the second there's a gentle breeze. Like lip gloss, however, it generally isn't long-lasting.

Lancome's new Juicy Shakers are this generation's Juicy Tubes, which were released in 2000 and were undeniably lip gloss. The Juicy Shakers, which are oil-based, come in 20 different shades with corresponding flavors, like Good Kara-mel, a brownish red. The oil separates, and you then shake it in its tiny cocktail shaker container to mix. You get a very sheer wash of color with a lovely sheen, and also feel like you just played with a little toy.

Clinique's Black Honey Pop Oil Lip and Cheek Glow has been a surprising favorite of mine this season. It has a more traditional lip gloss doe foot applicator, but the sheer color and subtle shine looks really sophisticated on, and it feels like an oil rather then a gloss. Ditto Dior's Milky Tint, which is not an oil and not a gloss. It has a creamy, shiny texture and the slightest hint of pastel color; it dries down to a not-glossy shine.


Photo: Lancome

The next way to sell lip gloss without anyone realizing it, is to sell it in a non-lip-glossy container – that tube with the sponge-tipped applicator wand is a dead giveaway. Ofra's Lip Gloss Stick ($15) looks like a traditional lipstick bullet, except it's transparent and shiny. The brand's matte liquid lipsticks are best sellers for Ofra, and the company markets this as a way to add some moisture and shine on top of traditional lipstick. (You can't add a lip oil on top of a longwear matte lipstick because it will remove it.) This one has a minty flavor and is shinier than a balm when worn alone, but not glossy. Soap & Glory also has a Gloss Stick ($6) that looks like a regular lipstick and a lip crayon had a baby, only with shinier results.

The Juicy Shakers and Tom Ford's Patent Finish lip color both substitute the traditional doe foot applicator for spongey, cushion applicators. You apply the Lancome lip oil via a very fun conical sponge with comes to a point; Tom Ford's is in a click pen and the color emerges from a sponge tip that you then just swipe on.


Photos: Chanel, MAC, Marc Jacobs Beauty

Lip gloss traditionally makes its statement via shine, not color. That's all changed now. Rather than just give a touch of color or way too much sparkle, the new generation of lip glosses provide opaque coverage and extra pigmentation. Tom Ford's Patent Finish lip colors are highly pigmented and stain your lips for long wear, with the added bonus of being very shiny.

In the late '90s and early aughts, cool girls everywhere wore MAC's Lip Glass, preferably in colors that matched either concrete or dirt. They were the shiniest, stickiest, most glorious things ever, but they now belong in a time capsule. This is where one of MAC's most underrated new products, in my opinion, comes in. The Vamplify ($20) gloss is not Courtney Love's lip gloss. While it has a more traditional gloss feel, it's not nearly as sticky as Lip Glass and the color payoff is opaque and wonderful. (Try "Tuned In" for a perfect dark rosey neutral.)

Marc Jacobs' High Shine Lip Lacquer ($28) and Chanel's Rouge Allure gloss ($37) also fit into this category, offering color first and shine second, in a palette that skews runway, not mall rat.

Approach lip gloss like this Douglas Adams heroine: "She had what it took: great hair, a profound understanding of strategic lip gloss, the intelligence to understand the world and a tiny secret interior deadness which meant she didn't care."


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