Choosing the Sheen of Your Lipstick

Posted by JP on 6/3/2014

Matte lipstick is best known for its ability to last all day and its lack of shine. Matte lipstick has gone through periods of popularity since it became common for women to wear lipstick in the early 1900s. Although there hasn’t been a hard rule, matte lipstick is more often the lipstick preferred by younger women. Because of the long-lasting nature of matte lipstick, it tends to create a drying effect, which doesn't work well for more mature women or any women who have dry skin. Additionally, it does not work well on lips that are chapped, because it doesn't contain the emollients normally found in traditional lipstick, which are responsible for moisturizing the lips and sustaining an elasticity that isn't prone to break or crack with movement.

The Origin of Lip “Stick”

Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, a Muslim surgeon from the Andalusia area of Spain is believed to have created the first solid lipstick around 900 AD. These were rolled sticks that were perfumed and rolled and then pressed into special molds. Some early lipsticks were given shimmering effects by the addition of a pearlescent substance found in fish scales. Most of the lipsticks sold today are tubes of wax that have been molded and have oils and color added to them. Other additives affect the look and performance of lipstick. Although beeswax is the most popular wax used in making lipstick, paraffin and carnauba wax are used, as well. Olive oil, castor oil, lanolin oil, cocoa butter and fat extracted from the brain of a cow are the most common types of oils and fats used to manufacture lipstick.

The Characteristics of a Matte Finish

The low ratio of oil to wax in matte lipstick gives it the dull, or flat look. Matte lipstick is sold in the hues in which glossier lipsticks are available, with the darker shades being especially favorable. Due to its characteristics, matte lipstick generally lasts longer than gloss lipstick, and a benefit of matte lipstick is that by the application of glosses of different sheen's, the wearer can produce and change the desired sheen, with each application.

From Matte to Gloss

In addition to matte lipstick, there are other types of lipstick sheen's that achieve their levels of glossiness from different formulations of wax, oil, pigment, etc. The shinier the lipstick, the more oil it contains. Lipsticks that shine are called gloss lipsticks. Because they come in a wider array of lighter colors, gloss lipsticks can also be layered with matte lipsticks to produce a rich color that is also shiny.

Creme Lipsticks

Creme and pearl lipsticks have more oil that matte lipsticks, but less than gloss. They contain more wax than matte lipsticks, so they serve to protect lips better. Many women prefer crèmes and pearls because they fall in the middle of mattes and glosses and come in both light and dark colors. Shimmer lipsticks can be either creme or pearl, and create different levels of shine, from the addition of different light-reflecting particles such as synthetic pearls, mica or fish scales.

Try Them All

The type of sheen you choose to wear is up to you. If you want to experiment between the types, it’s best to buy a matte lipstick in your chosen shade and then both a creme-based clear gloss in addition to a high level clear gloss. You may find that you prefer to alternate between lip sheens, with different shine levels for different functions. It’s all beautiful!

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