I'm about to employ a very overused (yet effective) trope. There are two types of people in this world: those predisposed to wearing bold, bright lipstick and those who prefer subtler shades. If you fall into that latter category, it can be hard to find the right sheer shades—you know, for that coveted your-lips-but-better look.
That's where we come in. We thought we'd share our favorite lip colors that give our pout a subtle wash of barely-there color instead of the bold payoff most other formulas provide. We wear these to the office, to brunch, and anywhere else we want to look chic and understated (so basically everywhere). Keep scrolling to see our favorite tinted lip products.
Dior Addict Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm in 001 Pink Glow
On any given day, you can spot at least a two or three Dior Lip Glows littering the desks of Byrdie editors. The hydrating product, which basically amounts to a luxurious tinted lip balm, provides the prettiest sheer wash of color. While we're big fans of all of the shades and finishes, we hold a special place in our hearts for this classic shiny pink.
Urban Decay Lo-Fi Lip Mousse in Echo
If you despise the texture of traditional lipsticks (or you find most of them to be too drying, like I do), you'll love Urban Decay's new Lip Mousse. The closest product I can relate it to in the beauty world is a cushion compact (although it's far from being an exact match). I say it's like a cushion compact because the mousse-like texture deposits powdery color that feels light and airy on the lips. You can dab it on the lips in a sheer fashion or build it up for a truly opaque color payoff. Either way, it'll earn you major compliments.
Tata Harper Be Adored Lip Treatment
Erin, Byrdie's assistant editor, calls this balm her "forever ride-or-die" since it provides an ultra-pretty, just-bitten look when applied to the center of the lips. Thanks to a bevy of hydrating ingredients, it also plumps the lips and disguises the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Swipe it on the center of your lips and then dab outward for a melted-Popsicle finish.
Onomie Boosting Lip + Cheek Stick in Toasted Papaya
Speaking of Erin, the two of us had a friendly fight about who would get to write about Onomie's Boosting Lip + Cheek Sticks earlier this year. We both love the creamy, hydrating formula and hint of color they provide. They're also super blendable and portable. I've had this burnt-orange shade called Toasted Papaya ever since it launched earlier this fall. I apply it to my cheeks, lips, and eyelids on the go.
Kosås Weightless Lip Color Lipstick in Rosewater
Here, my friends is the one brand of lipstick I can count on to always complement my skin tone (no matter if I'm at my tannest come the end of summer or palest in the midst of winter). The sheer, hydrating bullet is always on my bathroom vanity. Always. No matter what. Especially when it comes to this pretty rosy-pink shade called Rosewater.
Kosås Weightless Lip Color Lipstick in Stardust
Erin also loves the shade Stardust, which has more of a red-brown tint to it, as opposed to Rosewater's pale, mauve-pink tone. It's just as hydrating, creamy, and flattering, and it's definitely worth trying. We promise.
Winky Lux Flower Balm Lip Stain
Winky Lux's innovative color-changing balms work with the pH of the lips to create a unique pink shade. What looks bright and lively on one person's lips reads soft and rosy on another's. It's like magic.
Nars Afterglow Lip Balm
You'd be hard-pressed to find another shade more iconic than Nars Orgasm. It's a peachy pink with finely milled gold shimmer that complements literally everyone. Seriously, there's a reason so many call Nars Orgasm a universally flattering shade. The sheer, hydrating formula will give you that coveted your-lips-but-better look.
Context Cinnamon Nude Balm
While these balms aren't as creamy as others I've tried, I truly appreciate the fact that I can layer them on my lips without building opaque or waxy-looking color. No matter how much of this balm I apply to my dry winter lips, it always looks chic and understated.
Tarte Glide & Go Buttery Lipstick
If you're looking for the perfect lipstick that glides on with virtually no tugging or waxy texture, this is The One. It's made with a combination of shea butter, murumuru butter, and jojoba seed oil to hydrate and plump the appearance of the pout while satiny color is deposited. Plus, thanks to a range of pretty petal-pink shades, it's easy to find an understated hue to complement the natural color of your lips.
Sisley Paris Coral Phyto Lip Twist
I'll leave this one up to Byrdie's features editor, Amanda, who describes these lip crayons as one of her all-time favorite products: "Have I recommended this product enough? I mention Sisley's hydrating, shiny, blindingly pigmented lip color practically once a week on Byrdie because even though it's pricey, the fact that I wear some shade of it practically every day makes it worth the sticker price."
I know what you're thinking: Blindingly pigmented color isn't what you're going for. Rest assured that the super-blendable formula makes sheer application simple. Just apply it to the center of your lips and dab it out toward the perimeter using your ring finger. If you use it this way, it will last you a long time, which makes the expensive price tag worth it.
Next, check out the 16 longest-lasting lip glosses of 2018, because we'll never say no to a little shine and shimmer.