Your Definitive Guide to Lip Formulas

Choosing the right lippy to suit your look..

Determining the lip colour required to round out a beauty look may seem like the finishing touch in any makeup routine, however, relatively speaking, it’s just the beginning.

Lip colours come in so many finishes and formulas, and it’s important to choose the right one in order to suit your look. To make the process that bit easier, we’ve compiled a simple guide to lip products- think of it as Lipsticks 101.

Lip Balm, Lip Gloss, Lip Pencil, Cream Finish Lipstick, Satin Finish Lipstick, Matte Finish Lipstick.. the list goes on!

Which one will you choose?



Fusing skincare benefits with lip colour, lip balms are a good product to have on hand ‘round the clock. Once only available in clear formulas, tinted balms allow you to add a wash of colour to the lips without committing to the maintenance required when wearing a traditional lipstick. A tinted lip balm is the first product we’re reaching for on a “no makeup” day.

The look: Hydrated lips in great condition, with a sheer wash of colour.

Best for: Those with particularly dry, damaged lips, anyone who seeks a “natural” look, or those who aren’t regular makeup wearers but want a hint of colour to pull their look together.

Our pick: Mecca Cosmetica Tinted Lip De-Luscious SPF 30


Once associated with 90s pop stars and a phrase that no doubt conjures up visions of sticky, tacky, glitter-infused tubes, modern lip gloss is far more sophisticated than your old Bonne Bell variety. Lip gloss, as its name suggests, will deliver a gloss finish to the lips, with a wash of colour similar to that of a balm.

The look: Sexy, glossy, high shine with sheer colour.

Best for: Those who want their lips to appear plumper- the gloss will catch the light, creating the illusion of fuller lips.

Our pick: Chanel Rouge Allure Gloss.


Essentially a crayon for the lips, lip pencils are a no-brainer as far as application goes. Not to be confused with a lip liner, lip pencils offer slightly less pigment than a traditional lipstick, but can quite literally be scribbled onto the lips. Lip pencils are available in both cream and matte finishes.

The look: Rich colour, but low-maintenance. The pencil means your lip line won’t be overly precise, delivering a cool-girl, lived-in look.

Best for: The low maintenance woman who still loves a fashion-forward beauty look.

Our pick: Nars Satin Lip Pencil


Cream and gloss finish lipsticks will deliver rich, almost completely opaque colour to the lips with a creamy, almost glossy finish.

The look: More pigment than a pencil, less shine than a gloss.

Best for: Where matte lip colours will emphasise lines and cracks, cream lipsticks are great for those who love colour but whose lips aren’t in the best condition.

Our pick: Hourglass GIRL Lip Stylo



Not quite creamy, not quite matte, a satin (or velvet) finish lipstick is the best of both worlds.

The look: Seriously rich colour with an almost “blurred” effect on the lips.

Best for: The traditionalist.

Our pick. Hourglass Confession Refillable Lipstick.


Matte finishes were the lip-finish-du-jour in recent years, and while all finishes are now having their time in the sun, there’s still something really fashion-forward about a matte lip colour. A matte lipstick will feel creamy on application but won’t have any obvious “shine” on the lips.

The look: Matte, but not the “flat” matte you’ll achieve with a matte liquid (we’ll get to that).

Best for: Those who like the fashion-forward nature of a matte finish, without the drying feeling.

Our pick: Tom Ford Matte Lip Colour


Looks like a gloss in the tube, applies like a gloss, wears like a lipstick. Delivers a level of shine you simply can’t get from a cream formula in a bullet.

The look: The finish of a gloss, the pigmentation of a lipstick. High shine, rich colour.

Best for: A night out.

Our pick: Dior Addict Lacquer Plump


Call it the Kylie Jenner effect, but matte liquid lipsticks have been everywhere in recent years. The glide on like a gloss, but quickly dry down to the most matte finish you could possible achieve. The one downside? These formulas, even the best ones, will always be more drying than a gloss or cream, so make sure your lips are in tip top condition before committing.

The look: As matte and pigmented as a lip colour can get- almost two dimensional.

Best for: Those with lips in great condition who want seriously longwearing lip colour. These lippies will not budge until you want them to.

Our pick: Nars Powermatte Lip Pigment

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