Lip gloss you’ll want to pout about
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Sticky, sweet, sickly, sultry: lip gloss – in all its high-shine, wet-look, luscious glory – is back. At the SS22 shows, wherever there was a sense of lightness and optimism – as at Fendi – there was gloss. Wherever there was Y2K nostalgia, as at Dolce & Gabbana, there was gloss. Wherever there was fun and freedom, as at Blumarine: gloss. It was the chosen beauty signifier of the freshest of fresh starts.
It’s not hard to see why lip gloss has made a comeback: it’s quite literally about transparency, and not feeling weighed down – the same mood that prevailed across so much of this season’s fashion. It’s playful too, concerned with surface rather than depth. Unlike lipstick, which seems somehow imbued with the heritage of “proper” make-up, and looking grown-up, lip gloss exists to make your lips look great – plumper, shinier, more eye-catching – and nothing else.
Which is good, because whatever else it is, lip gloss isn’t remotely practical – even now that formulations have come a long way from Max Factor’s “bee-stung lips” of the 1920s (he invented the shiny lip so that Hollywood starlets would look more captivating on screen). They don’t last very long. They can feel sticky. They transfer easily onto cups, glasses, clothes. They’re a nightmare if you wear your hair down – remember “lip-lash”, where strands of hair would get stuck to your mouth? For a while, lip gloss became synonymous with the overzealous use of injectables, where you couldn’t tell where the fillers stopped and the layers of prosthetic-looking gloss started. Which is why it’s fortuitous that in tandem with this renewed enthusiasm for gleaming lips, new, more sophisticated formulations have emerged that prioritise sheerness while going easy on the pouty shine.
Get the gloss: the formulas designed to stay put
“‘Grown-up’ gloss is something I want to bring back to the beauty industry,” says Bobbi Brown of the Cool Gloss in her new make-up line, Jones Road. As you’d expect from Brown, the colours are exceptional – especially Great Red, a new addition which she says is “really red – no yellow” and “super-wearable versus a matte red lip”. (Even when the shine inevitably wears off, the subtle red stain you’re left with looks good on its own too.)
Gloss Embrace, the new lip product from the make-up artist Lisa Eldridge, is also chic and considered. “There’s something really easygoing about gloss. You don’t need to use lip liner, or blot or do all those things,” she says. She loves to use Muse, “an immaculate smoky rosewood”, but another colour, Affair, is being requested most on shoots. It’s “an earthy soft caramel-brown with cool-girl vibes”, says Eldridge, adding that Dua Lipa is a fan.
Aside from the colour, the key to grown-up gloss is in the texture. Glosses are a triumvirate of oils, waxes and pigments, and the ratio of these is what will make them thicker, stickier, shinier and longer-lasting. Modern formulations combine butters as well as oils to give them sheen without stickiness (Jones Road’s glosses have shea butter combined with peppermint oil; Lisa Eldridge’s have wild mango-kernel butter and oils of açaí berry and sunflower seed).
Other good glosses to try right now: Hourglass Unreal High Shine Volumizing Lip Gloss, for a beautiful texture and a great choice of shades, and Fenty Beauty’s Gloss Bomb, because no one wears shine better than Rihanna. If clean beauty is your thing, both Westman Atelier and Saie have really good versions. And for all-out luxury and just a nod to the current Studio 54-inspired fashion moment: Tom Ford Gloss Luxe, in one of the deeper shades like Exquise, is the perfect moody rich red.
And once you’ve found your gloss? The good news is, you’re all but done. “I would wear the red gloss with just mascara,” says Brown, “and a little Miracle Balm” – Jones Road’s tinted face sheen – “on the skin.” You see? Foolproof. Although you might still want to wear your hair up.
Model, Cerys Davies at Elite London. Casting, Keva Legault. Hair, Mayuko Nakae using Digi and Wella products. Make-up, Nicola Brittin at Saint Luke using Ravishing Red lipstick and Hardwired eyeshadow by Nars Cosmetics. Photographer’s assistant, Keir Laird. Digital operator, Joe Hart. Stylist’s assistant, Kris Bergfeldt. Production, Diane Vincent at Saint Luke