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The best lip glosses

(Image credit: Pixabay)

Even for natural beauties who like keeping it simple, a great lip gloss is a make-up bag must. A gloss provides lips with a sheer wash of colour in addition to instantly glamming up a party look and can be worn as easily on the beach as the red carpet. 

Although lipstick still dominates the market, sales of gloss have been on the up in the past five years, and it is a more universally flattering look than the previously sought-after matte effect. With the ability to create the illusion of a plumper pout, gloss enhances any size or shape of lips, can be applied in seconds on the run rather than needing a steady hand and mirror, and it doesn’t wear off to leave a patchy effect.

The ideal gloss provides shine without being gloopy or too sticky or has a certain amount of staying power to avoid coming straight off the moment you have a drink. There’s a multitude of variations in applicators - from crayons to wands with brushes. The sponge applicator variety, which all the products in this review have, is in our opinion, the easiest and quickest to use.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Beauty Without Cruelty Soft Natural Lipgloss

No nonsense, no nasties

Vegan friendly
Hypoallergenic, natural formulation
Only six shades 

Beauty Without Cruelty’s formulation feels deeply moisturising thanks to ingredients including jojoba and castor seed oil, rather than simply providing a thin, glossy surface layer. It comes in a more limited number of shades than some, with a choice of six colours. All are fairly universally flattering but may not be enough for fashionistas and are based on soft peachy or pinks. Unlike some products, there is no discernible smell or taste which could  be a bonus if you are not keen on applying a strongly scented gloss right under your nose.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Gloss

Bee-utifully shimmering

Natural formulation
12 colours to choose from
Contains beeswax

Although not vegan friendly, due to containing beeswax (not surprisingly given the brand), this is entirely natural which given the amount of lip product we tend to ingest, can be a consideration. Each shade of the dozen to choose from is pearlised to reflect light, while the formulation contains sunflower oil which is rich in Linoleic Acid, an essential fatty acid with moisture retaining properties. Although the glosses have a pretty shimmer, they are very sheer, so if it is colour you are after, you may want to apply in addition to lipstick.

(Image credit: Amazon)

e.l.f. Lip Plumping gloss

Plump your pout

Enhancing effect
Staying power
Slight tingling feel

We can’t promise lips to rival Angelina Jolie but we did notice a fuller effect from this tingling gloss and particularly liked the sparkle which enhanced the effect. Unlike some other lip plumping products, the tingle is slight rather than irritating and only lasts a few minutes. This would be perfect for adding emphasis to an evening look. The formulation contains Vitamin E and coconut oil for hydration but it doesn’t slide off easily and stayed put for several hours (and cups of coffee).

(Image credit: Amazon)

NYX Professional Make Up Butter Gloss

Deliciously decadent

Wide choice of shades
Colour rich
Compact tube

If it’s colour you want, as oppose just shine, this highly pigmented product provides it. Rich and creamy in formulation, Lip Butter is the perfect combination of lip colour and gloss, with no need to apply two products and glides on easily. It lasts well and didn’t smear off easily on our testers’ teeth as some do. The full range includes a whopping 24 shades, the majority with edible names like Praline, Angel Food Cake and Vanilla Cream Pie. There is a sweet, slightly sugary smell which we personally liked but may not be for you if unfragranced products are a preference. Although it contains as much product as the others, the tube is shorter, making it handy for pockets and handbags.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Barry M Cosmetics Gloss Me Up Lip Gloss

Budget beauty buy

Contains Vitamin E
Only four shades

This fruity smelling, vegan friendly gloss is a budget friendly choice; you could buy the whole wardrobe of shades for around the same cost as one premium priced product. The selection of colours is very limited and are more geared towards summer, with two pinks and two neutrals/beiges as oppose any deep berry, bronzes or more Autumnal hues. The gloss goes on well, with a pleasant, rather than sticky feel, coats lips well and stayed put through the coffee cup test! The product is also available in a kit with a matching lip pencil, which can be used to outline and fill in the lips before gloss is applied, providing longer staying power.

Sara Niven

Sara Niven is a freelance journalist who has covered a range of lifestyle issues for more than 20 years. She has been the beauty editor of numerous national and regional titles, regularly reviews products and is also a qualified counsellor and beauty therapist.