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Lip Color: Gloss, Stain, Lipstick, Balm, and More

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Reviewed by Victoria Barbosa, MD

WebMD Feature

If you've been loyal to the same lipstick brand and color for the past decade or more, you may not realize that there are many new and different products to color and brighten your lips. You can wear any of the many lip color products separately or layered together to update your look.

"There are no rules of right or wrong to lip color," says Clarissa Luna, a New York-based celebrity makeup artist. "Whatever you feel comfortable with is what you should use."

Before you think about lip color, though, consider lip health. Remember to protect this sensitive skin from the sun, because the lips can develop skin cancer, says Ellen Marmur, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Look for lip color products that contain at least SPF 15 or use a lip-friendly sunscreen product.

"Make it part of your morning routine, before your lipstick," Marmur says.

When shopping for lip color products, don't test samples on your lips that others have used. "You don't want to get herpes or staph infections," Marmur says. "I would put it on your hand, not your lips, unless they open something fresh for you."

Read on to learn about the different categories of lip color products available today:

Lip Gloss

When you hear the words "lip gloss," you may envision 13-year-olds applying bubble gum-colored gloss on the bus ride to school, but there are a wide variety of colors to appeal to everyone, not just adolescents.

"They cater to different needs and age groups," says Jeanne San Diego, a freelance makeup artist based in Southern California. "There are so many different kinds: full color, sheer, glitter, SPF protection. Some are more sheer and some give you a more natural look, like a hint of color."

  • Good for... people with dry skin, because lip gloss tends to be moisturizing.
  • Avoid if... you're seeking long-lasting color, since gloss comes off quicker than lipstick. It can also be messy, because it stays moist the entire time you wear it.

 

Lip Balm

Lip balms have moved beyond the basic and into the cosmetics industry. Tinted balms offer a hint of color with sheer to medium coverage and a satin finish, plus moisture.

"They often have SPF, which is great, plus vitamin E and shea butter, which soften the lips," Luna says. "It's a see-through color, not a full-color commitment, so you don't have to worry about looking in the mirror and making it perfect."

  • Good for... people whose lips are dry or tend to chap.
  • Avoid if... you seek bold, deep, dark coverage.

 

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