I Will Never Understand Matte Lip Products

Why would you want a dull pout?

Matte lip products are dull and drying — here's why I will never understand the makeup category.
Getty Images/ Tim Robberts

Every time a matte lipstick comes across my desk, I have to try it. But, without fail, every one of them immediately makes my pout shrivel up as if it just aged 100 years. Note that as a beauty editor, I can normally understand the appeal of most beauty trends, even if they’re not necessarily for me. Matte lips are where I draw the line.

Usually, matte lip products and lip glosses (well, and regular ol’ lipsticks) battle it out for the top spot of most covetable pout style. Glossy, shiny lips were all the rage in the early 2000s. Case in point? Lancome’s Juicy Tubes reigned as the must-have product to keep in the pocket of your Juicy Couture velour tracksuit at all times. The pendulum has swung back into matte territory though: Industry data conducted in 2019 by Grand View Research found that in the world of lip products, matte formulas were expected to expand at the fastest rate between that year and 2025. Why (seriously... why)? Consumers are looking for the long-lasting and natural look that matte products give you. The launch of Kylie Lip Kits in 2015 — combined with the countless Kardashian and Jenner selfies rocking a matte pout via these kits — also had a lot to do with the trend.

Sure, matte lipsticks do stay put much longer than most of their moisturizing or glossy competitors. But that’s only because you have to basically rub the top layer of your skin off in order to fully remove that pigment. (Yes, I know lip glosses dissolve mere minutes after applying, but there is a happy medium with lipstick.) There’s also the dullness factor: Why would you want your pout to not have any bit of luminosity? IMHO, matte products make your lips look like the lips of a corpse. I’d much rather have the plump, dewy finish that comes from hydrating tubes of color. Just me?

It may in fact... just be me. In an effort to understand the appeal of the matte lip, I picked the brains of makeup artists. Here’s the deal: Experts agree these lifeless-looking products (my word, not theirs) don’t do any moisturizing favors for your lips. But the consensus is that, if you’re going to be swiping on a matte lipstick, you’re going to need to take extra steps in order to prevent that wilted effect.

Why would you want your pout to not have any bit of luminosity?

“Matte lipsticks require a lot of lip prep,” says Shadi Malek, makeup artist and owner of Lashes by Shadi. That’s because they contain more pigment and less oil, she explains — hence why they last for so long. But if your canvas isn’t ready to take on all that hydration-sapping color, it’s not going to be pretty. “If you don’t prepare your lips beforehand, it can be a disaster,” says Malek. Cara Lovello, a celebrity makeup artist, agrees, adding that the tradeoff for long-wearing pigment is looking chapped and dry.

For those of you who still can’t resist that luster-less finish, this is what to do. First up, stay hydrated: “Drinking plenty of water and keeping your lips moisturized before application [will help prevent dryness],” says Lovello. In actuality, you should start preparing for your matte lip the night before. “You could try doing a lip mask or exfoliating [with a lip scrub] the night before or in the morning before applying your matte lip color,” she adds.

OK — so you can make a matte lipstick work for you, rather than against you by showing every single line and crease in your pout. Personally, I’m sticking with the moisturizing options that drench my lips with hydration and give that perfect glazed donut finish. To each their own.