Lipstick: the shoes of the makeup world. Bear with me here. Adding lipstick can transform your entire makeup look, just like wearing stilettos as opposed to ballet flats changes the whole feel of an outfit. There’s a reason lipstick tubes are called “bullets.” They are an Image Weapon. (I know there’s a better line there, but that’s the best I could do.)
Many women I come across are scared to try anything other than a very sheer lip color or a tinted lip balm. And a lot of fear comes from lack of knowledge, right? So I’ve created a non-alphabetical Lipstick Dictionary for you (it makes more sense this way). It contains information about all of the lipstick terms you may have heard, and some you need to know about.
Lipstick. A wax and oil based pigmented product that comes in a tube and is designed to enhance or change lip color. Lipsticks come in a variety of textures, finishes and colors.
Lip Balm: Waxed based product intended to heal and hydrate the lips. Can come in stick, pot or tube form. If your lips are dry, even the highest quality lipstick will look bad, so you’ve got to keep your lips hydrated. I’ve found that balms that are too waxy might fill in the cracks that can happen when lips are dry, but they don’t heal past that surface level. And balms that are too oily have the similar effect of making lips feel smooth but not really healing the dryness or dehydration. Glossier Balm Dotcom, which seems to be the perfect texture of wax and oil ingredients, is my all time favorite and the only balm I recommend. Apply this lip magic first thing in the morning, so it has time (at least 15 minutes) to absorb. Whether or not you wear lip color, you should be getting balmed up every day.
Lip Gloss. A liquid/gel hybrid that is applied straight from a tube or with a wand or brush applicator to give the lips a shiny finish. Some glosses are tinted, others are highly pigmented. Glosses tend to fade quickly as the lips absorb them, but thicker glosses–you know, the sticky ones that your hair gets stuck in–have more staying power due to their consistency, which takes lips longer to absorb. Glosses were big in the late 90s up until around 2010, then matte formulations got trendy (again). Glosses are starting to make a comeback, and us 90s girls are ready for it.
Lip Stain. A water based liquid or gel that deposits color onto the lips, often for extended periods of time. Lip stain can be drying, especially if it’s a longwear formulation, so make sure to prep with lip balm first. You can also make your own lip stain by applying a lipstick (after your lip primer has absorbed) then blotting it several times on a tissue.
Lip Tint. See “lip stain.”
Lip Primer: A lightweight product, usually in a cream formulation, that is applied prior to lip color to make it last longer. If you want to make your lipstick stay on all day, apply a lip primer like Too Faced Lip Insurance after your balm has absorbed. Give it a few minutes to dry before your next step. This is a great time to do your mascara, sculpt those cheekbones or do some other part of your makeup that takes you a minute or two. If you put your lipstick on before your primer has fully absorbed, it’s not going to work. So just do what I say!
Lip Liner: A pigmented pencil or thin crayon used to add definition to the lips and give lip color something to adhere to. If you want to add some extra staying power to your lip color and shape your lips, lip liner is the way to do it. Make sure it’s sharpened, then outline your lips. I do this in four quadrants (look at the one thing I retained from Geometry class coming through!). I start with the lower left half of the bottom lip, tracing over the bottom of the natural lipline to the center of the bottom lip. Repeat on the other side. Then on the top lip, one quadrant first followed by the other. But the work doesn’t stop there! It’s important that you then fill in your lips with the liner. That’s right, color between the lines. This gives your lip color something to adhere to so it stays on better, and it prevents the visual announcement of “Hey, I have lip liner on!” that happens when lip color fades and only the telltale outlines stay.
Lip Scrub: A physical exfoliant that removes the dead skin cells on the surface of your lips that could otherwise latch onto your lipstick and cause it to apply unevenly. If your get dry lips and lip balm doesn’t completely heal them, you should consider exfoliating your lips once a week. You can go with a homemade lip scrub or a pre-made one, but since you will definitely be ingesting some of the scrub, I suggest keeping it natural.
Undertones. The subdued or secondary colors found in most shades of colors. You know your primary colors, right? Red, green and blue. But in makeup, most of the shades you come across are a mixture of colors. Undertones play a big part in lipsticks, which you might be aware of. Ever heard anyone refer to a lipstick as an “orange red” or a “pinky nude?” Sure you have. Knowing the colors that work for you in general can help you find a good lipstick match. For example, someone with blue eyes might like how they look in a pink shirt because pink and blue are complimentary and when the right colors are on or close to the face, they will bring out eye color. So if you start to be aware of lipstick undertones (they are often listed in the lipstick color description on a website), it might help you figure out what works for you.
FINISHES/TEXTURES (Because this one really calls for its own section)
Cream. The original lipstick finish of modern times that isn’t completely matte but isn’t a satin, metallic or frost either. Cream textures glide on easily but aren’t sparkly or only lightly pigmented. This texture works on everyone and is a comfortable formulation to wear. However, it is more like to bleed over the lip line, so if you encounter that problem, try using a lip primer and/or lip liner under it.
Matte. A texture and effect that is flat and contains no shimmer, glitter or other light reflecting particles. Matte lipsticks are highly pigmented, which makes them more bold/obvious. They can be drying, so make sure to stay on your lip balm and lip scrub game if you like matte lipsticks.
Satin. Halfway between a cream and a matte finish. Satin lipsticks provide a slight sheen without any shimmer of frosts or metallics or the stickiness of some lip glosses.
Frost. A finish that has highly a reflective iridescent shimmer. A frost finish gives any lipstick an icy, opalescent effect. Frost lipsticks were very popular in the 1970s, and then again in the late 1990s, as all makeup trends come back around. That’s beauty industry gospel.
Metallic. Another highly reflective finish, but with gold, silver or copper light reflecting particles that create a foiled effect. If you are going to wear a metallic lipstick, I recommend making it the focus of your look by keeping the rest of your look clean/minimal.
Hopefully I’ve helped decode some of the mysteries of lipstick and its associates. In Part 2, I’ll tell you about colors and application techniques so you can pucker up with confidence.
Have a beautiful day 🙂