The Return Of The Gloss

by Melissa L. Haney

My lip gloss has been neither cool nor popping since maybe the seventh grade. I hate the sticky formula, how with one gust of wind my entire head of hair seems to glue onto my face. I hate the glittery shimmer, how I always look like I stepped out of a low-budget pop music video. I hate that the product just coats my lips — not to mention how it will dry them out in place of adding any semblance of moisture. Plus, I just sort of associate the product with teenage girls, since my junior high and high school years were really the only time I (admittedly quite religiously) used it.

That is, of course, until now. After noticing more than a few glossy lip looks on the red carpet this past awards show season, I decided to give lip gloss a second chance. Maybe I was just doing it wrong? Maybe I was missing out on some great beauty products simply because of a few bad pre-pubescent memories. Hitting up my local drugstore and heading into the lip gloss section certainly felt like a dramatic relapse into a terrible past habit, but I immediately notice some huge changes to the gloss game that made me feel a bit more at ease. Most of the products promised to add moisture and long-lasting color — color(s) that in and of itself seemed more wearable. Perhaps lip gloss wisdom comes with age, but sizing up my options, I began to understand the overall appeal of the product to someone over the age of 13.

Urban Decay Naked Lip Gloss In "Walk Of Shame"

The most expensive of the bunch, the pristine packaging of this lipgloss comes as no surprise — quite the opposite, it was something I expected. The rose gold tube is pretty, easy to hold, and definitely something that would be easy to find if lost in the abyss of an oversized purse. Obviously the packaging really isn't what matters here, since it has nothing to do with the product when it's on my lips; however, since we judge with eyes first, I think the presentation deserves mentioning.

That being said, the product itself certainly lives up to its luxe look. The gloss went on smooth (thanks in large part to an slanted brush that slides well over lips) and didn't feel sticky once applied (although it did stick to any loose head hairs). There was a bit of a peppermint feel to it, the same tingling sensation that usually comes from a moisturizing balm. It follows, therefore, that the gloss really did seem to moisturize my lips as opposed to just kind of sitting there. The color added a nice subtle shade to my makeup, but was still a bit too glossy for my taste. It's an absurd complaint, I know, but I'm really just not into the whole high-gloss look. I initially thought subdued colors would look less, well, glossy. But, I think it's because the color looks so much like a natural lip, that the whole gloss aspect seems to really shine through.

Covergirl Lip Lava In "Lychee Lava"

When I picked up the sparkling tube off the shelf, I thought it would look like 2004 exploded onto my lips, yet much to my surprise I really, really liked this bright pink glitter gloss. The color is bold and the shine factor is high, but somehow it works for me.

The tube itself is just as appealing as the more expensive options on this list. Rectangular in shape, it's not as big, but that's something I like about it. The brush itself is an actual brush (as opposed to the sponge-like brushes in most lip glosses), which made the application of the gloss a lot more precise and less gloppy — I could control exactly where and how much gloss I put on.

Again, I loved the sparkling pink color of the gloss — it added a pop of fun, almost nostalgic color in tune with what I think lip gloss ought to look like. The formula, however, was a bit of a different story. It wasn't that bad, but it wasn't the best either. The gloss didn't dry out my lips, but it didn't really add any moisture either. Moreover, the lip gloss wore off after one or two sips of a wine glass.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss In "Raisin"

Of all the glosses on this list, I chose the Revlon Lustrous lip gloss because it seemed to be the most traditional on the shelf. No frilly packaging, no added promises, this gloss was just gloss. I didn't have high hopes, but I loved it.

Again, the packaging was pretty simple — just a run-of-the-mill lip gloss tube and a traditionally shaped sponge applicator. However, despite thinking such a traditional gloss would lead only to disappointment (thanks to numerous memories of junior high bathroom mirror disasters), I ended up quite pleased with how easy applying the product was. Sure, it would be more precise with an actual lip brush, but the short stick alleviated most of the control issues that usually come with a sponge applicator.

In terms of the color and actual formula, I was equal parts surprised and impressed. The purplish raisin color was rich without being too overpowering, amplified by a perfectly subtle shine. Although not exactly moisturizing, the gloss was light, long-lasting and lacking any stickiness — despite some strong gusts of wind, very few strands of hair got caught up in glossy muck.

Maybelline Super Stay 24 Hour Lip Gloss In "Lasting Lilac"

Any lip gloss that requires more than one step really has to uphold all of its promises — and the Maybelline Super Stay gloss definitely follows through on every one. While I can't say I wore the color for a full 24 hours (a girl's got to sleep), during the duration of my night out, the gloss stayed put and provided a surprisingly nice and bright color for a lot longer than expected.

Despite my initial griping, the two-step application isn't all that tedious. First comes the actual lip gloss (there isn't much, but without the need to re-apply throughout the night, a whole tube isn't necessary), then comes a clear balm over top once the aforementioned gloss dries. The result is a color that ends up looking and feeling less like a gloss and more like a stain with a bit of shine. Not only did the product loose that terrible thickness of most lip gloss products, but it also lost any and all stickiness.

Covergirl Outlast Lip Gloss In "Eternal Flame"

Think of this Covergirl lip gloss as the less advanced version of the Maybelline Super Stay product. Just as with Maybelline, Covergirl requires two steps to assure long-lasting color, but as opposed to the former, the latter comes as two separate items — a gloss and a balm — sold in one package. Not that it's a huge deal-breaker, but such packing only further proves how great it is when both items come as one tube.

All this being said, Covergirl Outlast nonetheless lives up to its heralded name in beauty. The burnt red color of the gloss rivals some of my best red lipsticks, offering a golden sheen that few rouges can replicate. Plus, this gloss barely wore off, which again cannot be said of most lipsticks. Furthermore, the Outlast gloss-balm combo provided some extra moisture that negated my wintery chapped lips without too much shine or stick.


Overall, I don't think I'll be wearing lip gloss on the regular, but I'm definitely going to give it a second chance. Despite my preconceived notions to the contrary, lip gloss isn't just for teenagers and pop stars. Apply too much, and it all gets to be a bit too much. But apply a decent product properly and lip gloss adds the perfect burst of color and shine to a beauty look. Which brings me to perhaps the most important conclusion of this whole experience: Lip gloss is meant to be fun. Subdued, nude shades simply won't cut it — lip gloss isn't a subdued product and attempts at looking "natural" by applying a thick, glossy shine to lips just don't make sense. If it's a subtle matte that you're going for, opt for lipstick, but if you're going to go gloss, go all the way.

Images: Author's Own