Best Lip Glosses

Updated December 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
14 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best lip glosses

When it comes to lip products, there are many to choose from: traditional lipsticks, liquid lipsticks, lip pencils, lip stains, and even tinted lip balms. But when it comes to high-impact shine, nothing beats a good lip gloss.

 gloss can be layered over a matte lipstick to change its finish or worn on its own for a juicy pout. Lip glosses are available in a nearly endless array of color options. But with so many lip glosses on the market, finding the right formula can be difficult. You have to decide how opaque you want the gloss to be, what finish you prefer, what color best suits your needs, and how comfortable the gloss is to wear.

Our buying guide delivers all the tips you need to choose the best lip gloss to put the finishing touch on your makeup look. When you’re ready to shop, check out our specific product recommendations for the top lip glosses around.

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Even the longest-wearing lip glosses require reapplication at least once during the day. Always toss your gloss into your bag or pocket before you leave the house, so you’re ready for touch-ups.

Key considerations

Formula

When you’re shopping for lip gloss, it’s essential to understand the benefits and limitations of glosses. Unlike many lipsticks, which often have a matte finish and can be pretty drying on the lips, glosses have a much more comfortable feel. They’re usually moisturizing, so they feel good on the lips, and glosses can even be flattering on dry, chapped lips, depending on the formula.

The drawback to this comfortable wear? Lip glosses have a significantly shorter wear time than lipsticks. In particular, glosses come off easily when you eat, drink, or even talk, which means you usually need to reapply the gloss every one to two hours. Lipsticks, on the other hand, can often last for four or five hours even if they aren’t long-wearing formulas.

The other issue with lip glosses is that many formulas have a sticky texture on the lips. That’s usually due to synthetic ingredients like polyisobutene and polybutene, which are binding agents that hold the gloss together. The stickiness means your hair can easily get stuck in the gloss in even the slightest wind. Crumbs and other debris can also get trapped in a sticky gloss.

For some people, that sticky texture is a deal-breaker. But it’s important to realize that thicker, stickier glosses generally wear longer on the lips, so you’ll have to choose whether wear time or comfortable wear is more important to you when choosing a lip gloss formula.

Color

The most basic lip glosses are clear and designed solely for adding shine to the lips. They can be worn on their own to give your lips a glossy look, but they’re usually paired with a richly colored lip product like a lip liner or lipstick to add shine.

However, most brands offer colored glosses that add both color and shine to the lips. These can be worn on their own or over a complementary lip liner or lipstick to create a layered lip combo. There are also glittery lip glosses, often with clear bases, that add the most intense, light-catching shine to the lips.

Opacity

In general, lip glosses are sheer, which makes them ideal for using as toppers over other lip products. But there is some variation among glosses in terms of how opaque they are. You can find some extremely sheer colored lip glosses, which add only a slight tint of color to the lips. Other formulas provide more color, meaning you don’t necessarily have to pair them with another lip product. Even those glosses that offer more opaque color are usually subtler than lipsticks, so they’re ideal for anyone who prefers a softer makeup look.

To prolong shelf life, store your lip glosses at room temperature in a spot that doesn’t receive direct sunlight.

Staff
BestReviews

Features

Finish

All lip glosses add shine to the lips, but there are some options when it comes to finish. A basic lip gloss does not contain light-reflecting particles, so it will leave the lips with just a shiny finish. However, other lip glosses include light-reflecting particles to create different finishes.

Shimmer lip glosses contain light-reflecting microparticles that are usually made of mica or silica. These glosses typically come in lighter colors and are ideal for special events.

Metallic lip glosses have rich gold or silver shimmer particles that give them a foiled look on the lips. They typically come in darker shades and are ideal for when you want a more dramatic lip look.

Glitter lip glosses have actual glitter pieces that catch and reflect the light. The size of the glitter particles determines how bold a look you get. Larger, chunkier glitter tends to be more dramatic and can feel a little gritty on the lips.

Natural ingredients

To get their slick, glossy texture, lip glosses usually contain many emollients, which provide plenty of shine and help hydrate the lips. Some glosses contain synthetic emollients, but higher-quality glosses typically use natural emollients like jojoba oil, coconut oil, shea butter, mango butter, cocoa butter, lanolin, or vitamin E.

In addition to emollients, lip glosses also contain thickeners, which help the gloss stay on the lips and prevent smearing. The most common lip gloss thickeners are waxes and clays. A formula that uses natural thickeners is usually your best bet.

Applicator

Some lip glosses have doe-foot applicators, while others have brush-tip applicators. Doe-foot applicators have a small, flocked sponge and work especially well for thicker glosses. Brush-tip applicators feature nylon bristles and are a good option if you’re more concerned with precise application. Other glosses have a triangular silicone spatula tip to spread the gloss, which is another good choice for thicker glosses. You can also find some glosses that come in a squeeze tube rather than a tube with a wand.

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Did You Know?
Lip gloss isn’t only good for adding a sheen to your lips. Dab a little clear gloss on your eyelids for a cool runway-inspired glossy eye look. Just make sure the lip gloss is eye-safe.
Staff
BestReviews

Accessories

Lip liners: bareMinerals Gen Nude Under Over Lip Liner
If you want to wear a lip gloss on its own, it helps to start with a lip liner as a base to make the gloss last longer and prevent bleeding. We love this liner from bareMinerals because it glides on smoothly and is available in a range of my-lips-but-better shades.

Lipsticks: NARS Audacious Lipstick
For maximum impact with a lip gloss, it helps to layer it over an intensely pigmented lipstick. This option from NARS is a favorite because it offers a high-impact, moisturizing formula and comes in a variety of cult classic shades to flatter any skin tone.

Lip gloss prices

Lip glosses vary in price based on the quality of the ingredients, wear time, and formula. The most affordable lip glosses are drugstore glosses that contain mainly synthetic emollients. They usually don’t last very long on the lips but are still available in a wide array of colors and finishes. Drugstore lip glosses typically cost between $1 and $10.

Mid-range glosses usually contain mainly natural emollients, and they also have enough thickeners to last longer on the lips than cheaper glosses. They can be somewhat sticky, but you usually have a broader color range to choose from. These glosses generally cost between $10 and $30.

The most expensive lip glosses are from luxury beauty brands and feature the best ingredients. They last longer on the lips than other glosses, and they usually aren’t as sticky. They also often offer the best shade ranges. These lip glosses cost anywhere from $30 to $85.

If you have long hair, it’s best to wear your hair up when you venture out for a walk while wearing lip gloss.

Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • Even though lip gloss is more forgiving than lipstick or a lip stain, it’s a good idea to exfoliate your lips before applying a gloss. Use a lip scrub or a wet washcloth to gently buff away any dry, chapped patches.
  • For perfect lip gloss application, start with the applicator at the center of your lips and move toward the outer edges. Tap the gloss into your lips with your finger.
  • Make your lips appear plumper by applying lip gloss only to the center. The gloss will draw the light, which helps give your lips a fuller look.
  • For a truly luscious pout, try a plumping lip gloss, which contains ingredients to mildly irritate the lips for a temporary plumping effect.
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Lip gloss is the perfect summer lip product. You don’t have to worry about it melting in the hot sun in your purse or car as you do with lipstick.

FAQ

Q. How long does lip gloss usually last on the lips?

A. It depends on the formula. Glosses that are thin and contain a higher number of emollients can last as little as an hour on the lips, while thicker, stickier formulas can last for up to four hours. Want your gloss to last as long as possible? Start with a lip liner as a base to help give the gloss something to grab onto.

Q. Does lip gloss go bad?

A. Like all makeup and skincare products, lip gloss has a shelf life. In fact, it has one of the shortest lifespans of any lip product due to all the emollient ingredients. Most glosses only last a year once you’ve opened them. If you notice that your gloss has started to separate or smell funky, it’s time to toss it.

Q. Can I layer lip gloss over any lip product?

A. You can definitely layer lip gloss over any other lip product. In particular, gloss makes a perfect topper for lip liner or matte lipstick because it adds a beautiful shiny finish. You can also layer or mix two different glosses to create a custom color.

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