A gloss is a beauty product that can enhance the look of your makeup or serve as an effective lip moisturizer. While many of us associate the term with tacky formulas from ’90s and early ’00s parties, today’s glosses have evolved into an array of sleek and shiny hues.
The basic ingredients in lip gloss typically include a lipid base (think wax or petroleum jelly) combined with an oil. This is infused with color, flavor and other additives to create the desired look and texture. The product is then poured into the package (like a tube or squeezable applicator) and cooled before it’s ready to be used.
Lip gloss can be worn on its own, or under lipstick for a glossy sheen that enhances the color and shine of the lips. Some lip glosses contain stains for long-lasting wear, while others omit color entirely to provide a transparent or pearlescent finish. There are also lip glosses that contain pigments for a vibrant sheen, and others are completely free of color to simply hydrate the lips.
The best glosses are lightweight and apply effortlessly without feeling sticky or weighing down the lips. The formulas are also hydrating and often contain vitamin E to help protect the lips against environmental damage and sunburn. You may also find products containing skin-loving oils like jojoba or shea butter to keep your lips soft and supple.
Some glosses even have plumping properties, which can give the lips a fuller appearance through temporary swelling and sensitivity. Ingredients in these products may include spicy irritants like cinnamon oil or capsicum, as well as bee venom to fool the lips into believing they’re being stung, causing them to swell.
While it’s important to understand how different ingredients impact the formula, it’s also essential to find a product that works for your skin tone and lifestyle. You should avoid products containing ingredients that are known to irritate the lips, such as alcohols, sulfates and synthetic dyes. Instead, opt for glosses that contain natural and healthy ingredients like hyaluronic acid and skin-loving oils.
To find the perfect gloss for you, consider your complexion and what type of sheen you want. Uribe recommends pink-ish or peach-ish tones for fair complexions, and she loves the berry or caramel family of shades for olive or darker skin tones. She adds, “It’s always a good idea to test out a few shades on your lips and neck before you commit to a specific shade.”
As for what’s in lip glosses, there are a few ingredients to look out for. For example, some people might have sensitivities to preservatives and coloring agents like FD&C Red 40 or Blue 1. There’s also the age-old rumor that whale sperm is used in lip glosses. While this is absolutely untrue, it’s still a good idea to read labels and find an option that suits your needs. It’s also important to know how to apply lip gloss properly. For the most flattering result, start with a nourishing lip balm, and carefully line your lips with lipliner before applying your color of choice.