Lip gloss always reminded me of middle school—and not in the happy, nostalgic way. More so in the What was I thinking? and Thank goodness I'm no longer 13 kind of way. It'd transport me back to those beige-colored hallways and applying gloss after eating a brown-bag lunch in the cafeteria. It smelled of sugar and Coca-Cola, felt sticky, and always seemed to end up on my fingers and in my hair. Those years, let's just say, were not the best.
I spent the majority of my young adult life wearing matte offerings, the kind that felt classic and velvety. I steered clear of anything glinty, shiny, or sparkly. But, as I know now, the dry, flaky, crankiness of an hours-old matte lipstick lends to its problematic nature (and less-than-long-time wear). So I had to re-evaluate my no-gloss policy—apprehensively.
For the last year or so, I've taken on an entirely new collection of lip-enhancing favorites: balms. They're hydrating, plumping, and natural-looking but still add some extra oomph to a makeup look. Plus, you can reapply them sans mirror and never end up with marks and messes all over your cocktail glass (or burrito). Though, I must admit, the allure of a vinyl, lacquered gloss started to intrigue me.
I still fell somewhere in limbo for a while, that is until Charlotte Tilbury's new lip confection came across my desk. It's dubbed a "Collagen Lip Bath," and there's certainly no moniker for gloss more beguiling than that. Below, find out how one lip gloss changed my entire view on the category completely, why it's especially cool, and a few more products I've jumped on board with since this eye-opening revelation. I'm a gloss girl now—get into it.
Inspired by the filters certain apps offer to plump up your lips (whether or not you're for or against digitally enhancing your face, you have to admit it's an astute jumping-off point for product formulation), Charlotte Tilbury's formula envelops your lips with firming marine collagen for a hybrid experience that feels just as much like a treatment as it does makeup.
Mustard sprout extract hydrates, plumps, and enhances lip volume to define the contours of your lips and create a fuller appearance while a blend of coconut oil and peppermint extract nourish, soften, and create a cool, fresh feeling directly after you apply. Then, the pearlescent pigments come into play, offering a milky, pink sheen that reflects light, making your lips look fuller, wider, and IMHO, certainly more enticing.
"The world is dehydrated," Charlotte Tilbury says, "this is a lip bath that puts the moisture back in the lips, reduces the appearance of fine lines, and gives you the healthiest-looking, most sumptuous pout." She's not wrong. I am 100% here for any collagen bath she wants to give me.
Just for fun, I rounded up five of my other favorites that offer results as exciting. Some of them are new, some are old favorites, but I promise they're all incredible. So, without further ado, find the holy grail lip glosses I've been treasuring since I crossed over to the gloss side.
I've been a SkinMedica devotee since I happened upon its HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator ($178) backstage at New York Fashion Week. Then, the brand launched a HA5 Smooth & Plump Lip System designed to address concerns lip injections prevent—minus the needles. The two-product duo smooths fine lines and wrinkles while adding visible volume and definition to your lips. Plus, it's super glossy without any of the added stickiness.
This little pink tube houses a formula that has been used backstage and ahead of red carpets for months prior to its release. Now, it's finally out, and I'm able to revel in all its plumping, glossing glory. The blend offers a mix of collagen and marine-based fillers to smooth and moisturize the appearance of your lips, leaving them more voluptuous than you'd expect. Then, and I promise I tried this, after 15 days your lips will look noticeably fuller. It's not permanent, of course, but it's real. It's tingly, it's cooling, and smells of vanilla mint.
Vitamins A and E create a hydrating, moisturizing base for the brand's best-selling lip gloss. It tingles to plump, coats on a high-gloss shine, and uses peptide and hyaluronic acid boosters to volumize. Our editorial director, Faith, sings its praises: "I borrowed this lip gloss from a friend's friend, whose lips looked especially juicy and glossy one night. I love that it smells like vanilla and doesn't feel sticky, but it gives you major shine and smooths out any lines or flakes. It literally makes it look like you got lip injections. After using it just once, I was hooked. I've never been a lip gloss person, but lately I've been venturing into shine territory (I blame Kim K., who always makes glossy lips look so good), and this gloss is now one of my faves."
Glossier's lip gloss is a really great example of a solid, reliable product at a (more) affordable price point. I slick it on for cushiony, crystal clear shine, no gluey grossness, and no sparkle. Just genuinely glassy shine courtesy of its super-soft, fuzzy doe-foot applicator.