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Lip Balm, Gloss, or Lipstick? How to Choose

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Lip Balm, Gloss, or Lipstick? How to Choose

Written by: Brianna Peters

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Published on: October 13, 2022

A really good lip color can transform your entire look, brightening up your whole face even when worn simply on its own. This season, anything goes in terms of what kind of lip color. Whether you’re minimal or maximal, and whether you love strong colors or the sheerest sheers, there’s a chic, ultraflattering clean option that’s calling your name (if you’re like us, you’ll find several options at the very least).

Favorite colors this fall

  1. Balm


    goop Beauty GOOPGENES Clean Nourishing Lip Balm Trio, goop, $48

    goop Beauty
    GOOPGENES Clean Nourishing
    Lip Balm Trio

    goop, $48

    SHOP NOW

  2. Gloss


    NEEN Glisten Up Double Down Gloss, goop, $22

    NEEN
    Glisten Up Double
    Down Gloss

    goop, $22

    SHOP NOW

  3. lipstick


    Kosas Weightless Lip Color, goop, $28

    Kosas
    Weightless Lip Color
    goop, $28

    SHOP NOW

Because we ingest much of what we put on our lips, clean ingredients are essential (note that all the options below have been tried and tested by the beauty team and obsessed-over, and they abide by our strictest clean ingredient standards). Beyond that, we always look for formulas that are as nourishing and lip-loving as possible. All that’s left is to choose: Balm, gloss, or lipstick?

1

Lip Balm

Why we love it: Impossible to mess up (you can absolutely apply them without a mirror) and supremely nourishing, balms are essentially skin care, whether or not they come with a tint.

Patron saint: Gwyneth Paltrow.

Wear it with: Truly anything. “This is the only makeup I wear most days,” says Gwyneth, but a great balm also looks incredible when the rest of your makeup is more intense. It’s as brilliant with a French-girl smoky eye and a douppioni silk ball gown as it is with jeans, a T-shirt, and a bare face.

Tip: Keep your favorite balm wherever you’ll reapply most often—we keep one right next to the computer, one in the glove compartment, one on the nightstand, and one in the makeup bag—to keep your lips in their best shape.

  1. Three gleamy, moisturizing balms
    (two are tinted)


    goop Beauty GOOPGENES Clean Nourishing Lip Balm Trio, goop, $48

    goop Beauty
    GOOPGENES Clean Nourishing Lip Balm Trio
    goop, $48

    SHOP NOW

  2. Rich pigment that really lasts


    RÓEN Elixir Tinted Lip Oil Balm, goop, $32

    RÓEN
    Elixir Tinted Lip Oil Balm
    goop, $32

    SHOP NOW

  3. Intense but translucent colors


    Balmyard Beauty Baby Love Balm Lip + Cheek Tint, goop, $32

    Balmyard Beauty
    Baby Love Balm Lip + Cheek Tint
    goop, $32

    SHOP NOW

  4. Sheer colors in a nourishing,
    citrusy balm


    Olio e Osso Balm, goop, $28

    Olio E Osso
    Balm
    goop, $28

    SHOP NOW

2

Lip Gloss

Why we love it: The juicy, shiny, ultrahydrated effect you get from gloss is sexy—plain and simple. Gloss also layers beautifully with lipstick, adding dimension along with shine.

Patron saint: Rihanna.

Wear it with: Think of gloss as the star—if you’ve got a lot of color or texture going on your face already, it’s generally not the time for a gloss moment (though if you’re Rihanna, go for it, because it’s going to look amazing). Great skin, defined brows, and inky lashes are the perfect accompaniments.

Tip: Makeup artists everywhere use a dab of gloss on the bottom lip to make anyone’s lips look fuller.

  1. Two chic new gloss shades in the coolest refillable compact


    
            NEEN Glisten Up Double Down Gloss, goop, $22

    NEEN
    Glisten Up Double Down Gloss
    goop, $22

    SHOP NOW

  2. Feels like butter—with a subtle minty finish


    ROEN Kiss My Liquid Lip Balm, goop, $26

    RÓEN
    Kiss My Liquid Lip Balm
    goop, $26

    SHOP NOW

  1. sheer rose-taupe It-girl tint


    Ami Cole Lip Treatment Oil, goop, $20

    Ami Colé
    Lip Treatment Oil
    goop, $20

    SHOP NOW

  2. Opaque with a
    slight shimmer


    Tower28 ShineOn Milky Lip Jelly, goop, $15

    Tower 28 Beauty
    ShineOn Milky Lip Jelly
    goop, $15

    SHOP NOW

  3. Tons of shine, with gorgeous texture and opacity


    Westman Atelier Squeaky Clean Liquid Lip Balm, goop, $38

    Westman Atelier
    Squeaky Clean Liquid Lip Balm
    goop, $38

    SHOP NOW

3

Lipstick

Why we love it: Significantly longer lasting and typically more intensely pigmented and opaque than balms or glosses, lipstick is your best option if you’re looking for full-on drama. It’s also the easiest texture to blend or layer.

Patron saint: Morticia Addams for deep shades, Jenna Lyons for reds, and Shiv Roy for neutrals.

Wear it with: The confidence we get wearing a great lipstick reminds us of the way we feel in a perfectly fitted jacket: ready to take on the world. So while you can wear it with anything, pull out your favorite lipstick when you’re feeling bold—with the widest wide-leg pants and a crop top or your sharpest suit—or when you feel like your outfit needs a chicness boost.

Tip: Dab a bit of the lipstick you’ve put on your lips onto your cheeks and buff it out for a chic monochromatic look.

  1. The ultimate classic, in shades from your-lips-but-better to drop-dead bold


    Kosas Weightless Lip Color, goop, $28

    Kosas
    Weightless Lip Color
    goop, $28

    SHOP NOW

  2. Lip Liner for Fullness


    Kosas Hotliner Hyaluronic Acid Contouring Lip Liner goop, $19

    Kosas
    Hotliner Hyaluronic Acid
    Contouring Lip Liner

    goop, $19

    SHOP NOW

  3. Ultimate palette to mix a custom lip


    Westman Atelier Lip Suede – Les Nudes, goop, $85

    Westman Atelier
    Lip Suede – Les Nudes
    goop, $85

    SHOP NOW

  4. Creamy multipurpose matte crayon


    Ere Perez Coco Crayon, goop, $26

    Ere Perez
    Coco Crayon
    goop, $26

    SHOP NOW

BONUS: Get Your Lips in Shape (before You Tint Them)

Any balm, gloss, or lipstick lasts longer and looks better once your lips are smooth, moisturized, and soft.

  1. Deeply nourishing


    ILIA Lip Wrap Overnight Treatment Mask, goop, $26

    ILIA
    Lip Wrap Overnight
    Treatment Mask

    goop, $26

    SHOP NOW

  2. Antioxidant-rich and hydrating


    Goldfaden MD Lip Therapy, goop, $34

    Goldfaden MD
    Lip Therapy
    goop, $34

    SHOP NOW

  3. Exfoliating and moisturizing


    Alpyn Beauty Willow & Sweet Agave Plumping Lip Mask, goop, $28

    Alpyn Beauty
    Willow & Sweet Agave
    Plumping Lip Mask

    goop, $28

    SHOP NOW

How Our Editors Chose These Lip Essentials

  • First, a safety team screened them against a long list of ingredients with the potential to harm human health. (goop standards for clean are among the strictest in the industry.) Only then did the balms, glosses, and lipsticks make it to our bathroom counters and makeup bags (we try every product we write about).

  • We looked for active levels of ingredients known to deliver results.

  • We tested the color payoff of each product—some of us love sheer colors, while others prefer something deeper and more pigmented.

  • We compared textures among products.



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