How to Wear Spring’s New Lip Glosses Without Looking Like a Tweenie

The insanely shiny lip products of the 1980s and early ’90s are back in a big way. And, happily, the new glosses have also been updated: reformulated to be less sticky, doused with reflective shimmers, infused with nourishing skin care ingredients and reimagined in hybrid formulas that deliver gloss and color in one wallop.

“The new generation of lip glosses are easier to manage,” said Nick Barose, a makeup artist who works with Lupita Nyong’o, Rachel Weisz and Amandla Stenberg. “They’re not all goopy or vinyl-like anymore.” Still, there are some best practices.

“I like to apply it directly from the tube with the applicator it comes with instead of a lip brush,” Mr. Barose said. “The idea is to get the product on in one swipe.” This way the shine doesn’t get diffused from multiple strokes.

“With gloss, you don’t want to keep layering, because that’s when it starts to look caked on,” he said. “That’s also why you should not layer lipstick under a gloss.” If you need more color, he advised, use a long-wearing lip pencil underneath to avoid color buildup.

Here are some of the juiciest new glosses, cherry-picked for you from the pack.

Most Comfortable

If your memories of gloss revolve around your hair sticking to your lips, many brands have reformulated their glosses for a smoother, less tacky finish. Mr. Barose particularly likes those by Nars ($24) for their balance of shine, color and comfort.

Best Nudes

Unless you’re O.K. with high-maintenance makeup, stay away from reds and dark shades, said the makeup artist Benjamin Puckey, known for his artful editorial work. “They’re too much upkeep because as soon as it bleeds a little, your lip looks messy.”

He likes Charlotte Tilbury’s Lip Lustres ($22) in shades like Sweet Stiletto and Seduction, which fall in the nude or pink categories. “Charlotte really understands how to create the perfect nude that doesn’t wash out your complexion,” Mr. Puckey said.

Most Pigmented

Need shine and color but can’t be bothered with lip liner? Consider one of the new hybrid lacquer lipsticks that deliver both. Lipsticks are easier to apply than a gloss wand, and these new formulas often pack in more color, Mr. Barose said, adding that he likes the new Lipstick Queen Rear View Mirror Lip Lacquer ($24) for just that reason.

If you need your shiny look to last, he suggests the Lancome L’Absolu Lacquer Gloss ($26). “The pigment is long wearing so it stains the lips while adding shine,” he said.

Best Active Ingredients

There’s something about juicy, shiny lips that convey youth, said Clemence von Mueffling, the founder of the Beauty and Well-Being site. She preps her lips with the French beauty staple Homeoplasmine cream ($16.90) and relies on plumping formulas like the Dior Addict Lip Maximizer ($34) to create “shine and smoothness.” The formula contains hyaluronic acid to create temporary fullness.

Most Minimalist

On days when a more subtle shine will do, Mr. Barose reaches for the Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Lip Gloss ($30) “for a soft, natural sheen.” Or look for an extra shiny lip balm to do double duty, said Cayli Cavaco Reck, the founder of Knockout Beauty, who prefers Le Paradis lip balms ($24).

“It gives you that supersexy shiny situation,” she said. “It’s the sexiness of the ’70s and ’90s — and can make any lip color into a gloss.”


For the most dazzling, reflective finish, the cult classic MAC Lipglass ($17.50) still wins hands down. Both Mr. Barose and Mr. Puckey rely on that makeup kit standby for unbeatable shine. “It’s my go-to for disco drama,” Mr. Barose said.

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