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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, Chicago-based makeup artist, entrepreneur, and founder of Fleeky Friday is also a fan: “Clear gloss gives your lips a youthful glow,” she says. “My favorite ingredients are natural oils like jojoba and grapeseed oils. Oil helps keep your lips maintain their own natural moisture longer and removes the stickiness from the gloss.”
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
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.
Best Budget: Essence Shine Shine Shine Lip Gloss
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.
Best Drugstore: e.l.f. Cosmetics Lip Lacquer
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.
Best Non-Sticky: Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer
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.
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
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.
Best Throwback: Lancôme Juicy Tubes
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.
Best Luxury: La Prairie Anti-Aging Eye & Lip Perfection à Porter
This product is technically a balm, but it wears like a low-key clear lip gloss. And while it’s a splurge, it’s certainly a worthy one. It’s one of Gould’s must-haves: “It’s honestly perfect—it stays glossy but is never sticky,” she says. It also pulls double-duty as an eye cream. On lips, it hydrates and smooths, while on eyes, it helps minimize the appearance of dark circles and fine lines.
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.
Best Vegan: The Lip Bar Lip Gloss
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.
Best Scented: Lime Crime Wet Cherry Lip Gloss
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.
Best Oil: Kosas Wet Lip Oil Gloss
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.
Best Multi-Purpose: Gucci Éclat De Beauté Effet Lumière Gel Face Gloss
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.
Best for Dry Lips: Tower 28 Beauty ShineOn Lip Jelly
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.
Best Shimmer: Fleeky Friday Diamond Gloss
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.
Best Over Lipstick: Luminess Beauty Diversion Lip Finisher
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.
What to Look For in a Clear Lip Gloss
In addition to imparting a mirror-like shine, glosses with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, coconut oil, and Vitamin E among many others will moonlight as hydrators, ensuring your pout won't feel parched. The extra moisture can help to extend the staying power of your gloss, calling for less frequent touch-ups.
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 to 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.