Clear lip gloss was all the rage in the ‘90s—but the formulas of yesteryear were seriously sticky. Remember how your hair would get stuck to your lips all the time? It makes sense then that clear lip gloss would’ve faded away as a makeup trend. But everything old is new again, and now clear lip gloss is back with a vengeance. The good news? Today, you can find a clear lip gloss that’s shiny without being sticky.
In fact, makeup artists agree clear lip gloss is worth a spot in your makeup bag. “A good clear lip gloss is like the perfect little black dress,” says Heather Hughes, makeup artist and director of product education at Luminess Beauty. “It should be a staple since there are so many reasons to reach for it.” Shureice Dawn, a Chicago-based makeup artist, entrepreneur, and founder of Fleeky Friday is also a fan: “Clear gloss gives your lips a youthful glow,” she says.
Here, we’ve rounded up the best clear lip glosses on the market right now. Keep reading to find out more about each formula.
Best Overall: Glossier Lip Gloss
Gives a subtle plumping effect
A little sticky
Who else recommends it? Refinery 29, Elle, and Essence all picked the Glossier Lip Gloss.
What do buyers say? 1,800+ Glossier reviewers rated this 4 stars or higher.
This clear lip gloss is a favorite of Byrdie Associate Beauty Director Hallie Gould, as well as Dawn, for good reason. The formula is “smooth, long-lasting, hydrating, and non-sticky,” says Dawn. It’s loaded with vitamin E and jojoba oil to help keep your pucker soft and moisturized all day long. Plus, the doe foot applicator grabs just the right amount of gloss you can apply in one swipe.
Finish: Shine | Shade Range: 4 | Size: 0.1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Budget: Essence Shine Shine Shine Lip Gloss
Could be more opaque
For less than the price of your daily latte, you can rock seriously shiny lips. This bargain clear lip gloss is the real deal. Users rave that the clear shade is perfect for upgrading your everyday makeup look and that the formula is a dupe for more expensive products.
Finish: Shine | Shade Range: 14 | Size: 0.2 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Drugstore: e.l.f. Cosmetics Lip Lacquer
Sheer, buildable coverage
Wears off easily
You don’t have to break the bank to find a clear lip gloss that’s shiny while also being non-sticky. This clear lip gloss, a favorite of former Byrdie Senior Social Media Manager Kelly Gallagher, is loaded with vitamin E for smooth, comfortable wear. Users like its long-lasting staying power (it keeps lips shiny for a few hours before you need to reapply) and its subtle glossy finish.
Finish: Shine | Shade Range: 7 | Size: 0.1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Non-Sticky: Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer
Shade range for all skin tones
Feels like butter
Gorgeous shine that doesn't feel sticky
If you’re fearful that clear lip gloss will turn your lips into a dry, sticky mess, then this is the product for you. Rihanna’s bestselling clear lip gloss features shea butter in the formula to moisturize lips without the tackiness. While it’s great on its own, users also like wearing it over matte lipstick for a shiny effect.
Finish: Shine | Shade Range: 6 | Size: 0.3 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
What Our Testers Say
"I really enjoyed this formula because it did not feel sticky, yet my lips didn’t flake, and the gloss didn’t absorb quickly like a lot of glosses tend to do." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester
Best Classic: MAC Cosmetics Lipglass Clear
Slanted tip makes precise application easy
We couldn’t leave this classic clear lip gloss off our list—it’s a product we’ve known and loved since high school. This clear lip gloss isn’t for the faint of heart, though—it is quite sticky. But the ultra glass-like shine it imparts makes up for the sticky finish—seriously, you’d be hard-pressed to find a shinier clear lip gloss.
Finish: Shine | Shade Range: 1 | Size: 0.5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Throwback: Lancôme Juicy Tubes
Lips feel soft and smooth
If you’re anything like us, then you definitely used to save your allowance money to buy Juicy Tubes when you were younger. Lancome has brought it’s iconic product back, so you can enjoy all the nostalgia that comes along with wearing this clear lip gloss, formulated with hydrating vitamin E.
Finish: Shine | Shade Range: 7 | Size: 0.5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Editor’s Pick: Clarins Lip Comfort Oil
Faith Xue, Byrdie Editorial Director, loves this clear lip gloss. A former gloss hater, this product changed her mind. While it appears pink in the tube, it goes on clear—and the combo of hazelnut and organic jojoba oils hydrates and protects lips. Try applying it before lipstick for a smooth base or alone for a natural, dewy look.
Finish: Shine | Shade Range: 3 | Size: 0.1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Vegan: The Lip Bar Lip Gloss
Made with organic ingredients
Looking for a vegan formula that really works? Turn your attention to this lip gloss, which is not only vegan but 90% organic. It’s jampacked with nourishing ingredients like shea butter and candelilla wax for soft, smooth lips. Wear it alone or pair it with your favorite color for a high-shine finish.
Finish: Shine | Shade Range: 10 | Size: 0.3 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Scented: Lime Crime Wet Cherry Lip Gloss
A little gritty
This clear lip gloss doesn’t just make lips glisten—it also smells heavenly. Yep, the sweet cherry scent is next-level. But beyond the delicious fragrance, the formula provides a non-tacky, comfortable shine that makes lips look fuller.
Finish: Shimmer | Shade Range: 14 | Size: 0.1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Oil: Kosas Wet Lip Oil Gloss
Gives a subtle plumping effect
Creamy, rich texture
Can feel a little heavy
What do you get when you combine clear lip gloss with some of the best skincare ingredients? This lip oil/treatment hybrid. Hyaluronic acid, peptides, and evening primrose oil plump up lips and keep moisture sealed in, all while delivering a hefty dose of shine. It’s an oil slick in the best way possible.
Finish: Shine | Shade Range: 8 | Size: 0.2 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Multi-Purpose: Gucci Éclat De Beauté Effet Lumière Gel Face Gloss
Imparts a soft, luminous glow
Not greasy or sticky
Makeup artists love using clear lip gloss all over the face to pump up the radiance—and this product is a winner for just that purpose. Swipe it on lips, eyes, and cheeks whenever you want to glow. The lightweight gel formula is oh-so-breathable, so you won’t feel like you’re wearing anything at all.
Finish: Shine | Shade Range: 1 | Size: 0.1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Dry Lips: Tower 28 Beauty ShineOn Lip Jelly
Product can separate over time
You don’t have to be afraid to wear clear lip gloss if you have a dry pout. This formula is ridiculously moisturizing, thanks to its trio of oils (apricot kernel, raspberry seed, and rosehip). It feels like a balm but looks like a gloss, and users can’t get enough of the plush, non-sticky formula.
Finish: Shine | Shade Range: 11 | Size: 0.1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Shimmer: Fleeky Friday Diamond Gloss
Glittery, not shiny finish
Sometimes you just need a little something extra in your makeup routine—and that’s where Dawn’s clear lip gloss with shimmer comes into play. “The formula is moisturizing and light,” she says. Goddess Glitz is sheer with a touch of gold holographic glitter for a boost of sparkle and shine.
Finish: Shimmer | Shade Range: 2 | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Over Lipstick: Luminess Beauty Diversion Lip Finisher
Works on top of any lip product
Could be more opaque
While you can wear this clear lip gloss on its own for a high-shine effect, it’s particularly good as a top coat for your brightest and boldest lipsticks. In fact, that's one of Hughes’ fave ways to use clear lip gloss: “You can put it on top of your favorite lip for that kissable glossy lip throughout the day or instantly change from a matte lip to a high shine lip,” she says.
Finish: Shine | Shade Range: 5 | Size: 0.1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
What To Look For in a Clear Lip Gloss
In addition to imparting a mirror-like shine, glosses with nourishing ingredients will act as hydrators, ensuring your pout won't feel parched. “My favorite ingredients are natural oils like jojoba and grapeseed oils," says Dawn. "Oil helps your lips maintain their own natural moisture longer and removes the stickiness from the gloss.”
A Non-Sticky Texture
Gone are the days of having to free strands of hair from your lipgloss after a gust of wind. Brands have gotten onboard with less-sticky gloss formulas in recent years by veering towards lightweight, hydrating options. If you have the option to swipe a tester across your hand before buying your gloss of choice, doing so will give you a good indication of whether or not it's a sticky formula. But when in doubt (and in the case a tester isn't available), defer to the online reviews.
Tint or Shimmer
Want to give your clear gloss some extra dimension? Look for options with the slightest hint of color or shimmer. It's a subtle, yet significant, difference that can dress up both bare lips and bold lipsticks alike.
What does clear lip gloss do?
Never underestimate the power of a swipe of clear lip gloss. A single layer can put in the work to give your lips a fuller appearance in an instant, and the shiny finish can help add dimension to an otherwise matte makeup look.
Can I apply clear lip gloss over lip color?
Of course! Applying clear gloss over your favorite lipstick is an easy way to give your go-to hue new life. To avoid mixing a bold tone with your clear lip gloss, use a separate applicator to swipe it over your lips, or dab it on using your finger.
There's more than one way to enjoy clear lip gloss. “If your goal is to look refreshed, dewy, and polished, adding just a tinge of shine to the high points of your face, including your lips, is a must," says Dawn.
Another clear lip gloss hack? Hughes says you can dab a touch onto unruly brows to keep them in place.
How We Researched & Tested
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. Our team also incorporated their own personal experiences testing products in their own lives. We then used these insights from our research and testing to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Grown-up clear lip glosses even your middle school self would love. Refinery 29. https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/best-clear-lip-gloss#slide-6
The 10 best clear lip glosses to own, according to a lip gloss addict. Elle. https://www.elle.com/beauty/makeup-skin-care/g29089686/best-clear-lip-gloss/?slide=5
An ode to clear lip gloss: these are the best clear lip glosses on the market right now. Essence. https://www.essence.com/beauty/best-clear-lip-gloss/