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Your complete guide to lipsticks: Every texture and finish you should know about

There was a time when lipsticks were restricted to the creamy ones, mattes and the good ol’ tube of sparkly lip gloss. Today, shopping for lipstick comes with a lot more categories. The variety of textures and finishes is as extensive as that for the base makeup category, and there’s a new brand or formula/packaging popping up every day. Here, we break down all the lipstick textures, so you know what you’re adding to your cart.

Lipstick textures you should know about before

Pigmented lip glosses

Charlotte Tilbury

These lip glosses are nothing like the ‘90s shimmer tubes you’re used to—they’ve still got the glossy finish, but the colour payoff is just like any other creamy lipstick you own. If you love a bright, shiny pucker, this formula is made for you.

We love: Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lusture Lip Gloss

Velvet matte lipsticks

Kiko Milano Velvet Passion Matte

These formulas can be solid or liquid and are a friendlier version of your traditional matte lipsticks. They don’t tug on your lips and can be applied even if you’re experiencing a bit of dryness. They provide your pout with a velvet-like finish with the staying power of matte lipstick.

We love: Colorbar Velvet Matte Lipstick

High-shine lipsticks


This formula of solid lipsticks is gaining momentum once again within the beauty industry. The highly-pigmented, high-shine lipsticks are applied straight from the tube and make sure you pout packs a punch and glistens from every angle.

We love: Dior Dior Addict Stellar Shine Lipstick

Liquid matte lipsticks


Most definitely one of the most popular categories in the last few years, liquid lipsticks have found a place in the hearts of many. A lot of users find them easier to use and manipulate than solid lipsticks and the matte payoff they dry to make sure touch-ups are a thing of the past. What’s not to like? These formulas are also available in metallic hues that used to be very popular back in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

We love: Maybelline New York SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick

Lip creams and stains

NYX Professional Soft Matte Lip Cream

Simply put, this formula is basically a creamy lipstick bottled in a liquid formula and provided with a brush applicator. Expect about 6 hours of lasting power—unless it dries off matte, in which case it will stay on longer—and the ease to take it off at the end of the day.

We love: NYX Professional Soft Matte Lip Cream

Lip lacquers

Tom Ford

This upcoming category is basically the non-sticky sibling of highly-pigmented lip glosses. They come with the same intense shades, but with a sheerer finish and provide your lips with a soft-tint-but-better look.

We love: Tom Ford Lip Laquer Luxe

Lip pencils

O3+ Plunge USA Amaze Pout Velvet Matte Lip Crayon

Lipsticks packaged as pencils can be of all textures—matte, creamy or glossy. They are malleable as they can be sharpened for a more precise application and can also be found at a better price point than their lip bullet counterparts.

We love: Faces Canada Ultimate Pro Matte Lip Crayon

Lip tints

Bobbi Brown Extra Lip Tint

While it’s safe to say that Benefit Cosmetics made the water-based tints a mainstay in beauty kits, tints now come in a balmy texture for easier application and better depth of the hue. They’re the makeup hack to when you simply can’t be bothered with wearing an intense lip.

We love: Bobbi Brown Extra Lip Tint

Lip oils


This makeup and skincare hybrid lip formula provides your pucker with much-needed nourishment along with a soft hint of colour—nobody needs to know you’re wearing a lip care product to lunch.

We love: Clarins Lip Comfort Oil

Powder lipsticks


The lived-in lip look is all the rage on the runways and if it stays this way, precise, lined lips will soon be shown the door. Powder lipsticks are soft lip formulas that give your pout a blurred finish with a porous, powder-like texture that’s applied with a brush or with your fingers for a bitten look.

We love: Chambor Powder Matte Lipstick

Metallic lipsticks


That tin foil look we all love? It’s also best described as a lipstick that you can layer on top of an existing one to give it a party flavour. The metallic lipsticks add that three-dimensional effect to your look and give it a slight edge.

We love: Smashbox Always On Metallic Matte Liquid Lip Stick

Holographic glosses


Holographic is just like a clear gloss but comes with tiny shimmers in it and gives out a jelly-like glass finish. That 90s effect with barely-there shine? That’s the frosty effect that holographic glosses give out.

We love: Ciate London Glitter Flip Holographic Lip Gloss

Anjan Sachar

While Anjan’s week is made up of writing and talking about everything from glycolic acid to the best new red lipstick, the weekends are spent testing them all, with Gossip Girl reruns on the side. When she isn’t reviewing a new face mask, you’ll find her sipping on mimosas with a side of truffle fries. Her daily essentials: Iced latte with a side of J Balvin and Prateek Kuhad.

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