Matte Lips Are Dead

How the pandemic pushed back the pout and ushered in an era of gloss, tints, balms, and sheen. Are you in?
Reading Time: 9 minutes

In 2022, the “clean girl” aesthetic dominated social media, with influencers and amateur beauty enthusiasts alike sharing their no-makeup makeup routines on Instagram and TikTok. Two years later, it’s safe to say that the clean girl look is here to stay—and even newer trends like the strawberry makeup trend, the tomato girl summer look, glazed donut skin, and the latte makeup look are all just iterations of the clean aesthetic. Yes, eyeshadow colors and blush placement may differ, but features essential to these looks are smooth, dewy skin, natural brows, and plump, full lips. In other words: Matte lips are out.

With today’s trends, the lips range from shiny to satin—gloss to balm. Lip-focused trends like bunny tongue lips, which started on the Chinese social media app Douyin, feature ultra-glossy pink lips. The blurred lip trend, which originated in South Korea, can be achieved using water tints, balms, or lip gloss. The Korean gradient lip trend also uses two different glossy stains and lip gloss to color the lips. A full yet natural-looking pout is most achievable through gloss and balms.

The pandemic saw a rise in skincare trends, with everyone wanting to achieve clear skin and eternal youth through the products they use. Skincare-makeup hybrids were very much in demand, and the Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm and the Rhode Skin Lip Peptide Treatment have become makeup bag constants, especially for Gen Z on TikTok. It was a time when glossy lips signaled youthfulness, health and hydration, and the knowledge of current trends, making the lips a key feature for influencers and their loyal followers. 

TINTS AND STAINS

K-beauty brands, arguably one of the major tastemakers of the makeup and beauty sphere, began focusing on creating lip products that feel comfortable, last long, and add shine and dimension to the lips. Products like watery tints are all the rage at the moment.

Rom&nd’s Dewyful Water Tint has been a bestseller since its launch in 2021, and even Western and Filipino brands have started following suit with this type of lip formula—like Rare Beauty’s Soft Pinch Tinted Lip Oil which launched in 2023, and Issy’s Gelée Lip Stains which launched in May of this year. 

Rom&nd Dewyful Water Tint

P593, Lazada

Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Tinted Lip Oil

P1,450, Sephora.ph

Issy Gelée Lip Stain

P349, Lazada

GLOSS

Lip gloss has been a consistent makeup staple since 2020. While Summer Fridays and Rhode Skin Lip Treatments have truly paved the way for the resurgence of lip gloss, K-beauty brands like Rom&nd, Fwee, and Peripera have also released their versions of the lip products.

Rom&nd Glasting Color Gloss

P847, Lazada

Fwee 4D Voluming Plumper

P895, Lazada

Peripera Ink Glasting Lip Gloss

P799, Lazada

BALMS

Balms have also become a more popular choice over traditional lipsticks—sheer color and maximum comfort seem to be the direction consumers are more inclined to go towards nowadays. Locally, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to lip balms. Sun protection for the lips is often overlooked, which is why we love the BLK Fresh Lip Quench which has SPF 25 PA++++. Another worthy must-try is the GRWM Cosmetics Lip Booze Tinted Sheer Balm, which delivers a high-shine finish while imparting quite a bit of pigment, making it a great gloss-balm hybrid. Glossy balms with a click-up component have also been extremely popular in Asia, and we noticed the Nature Republic Honey Melting Lip has been all over our TikTok For You page. 

BLK Fresh Lip Quench SPF 25 PA++++

P399, Lazada

GRWM Cosmetics Lip Booze Tinted Sheer Balm

P349, Lazada

Nature Republic Honey Melting Lip

P575, Lazada

With all these trends and products, it’s easy to see that gloss is in and matte is out. Any millennial who has followed beauty YouTube since 2015 will be surprised to hear it, considering the lengths we would go through to achieve the perfect, opaque, no-cracks, fuller lip finish using matte lip products. The fall of matte lips and the rise of more comfortable formulas is an interesting one, so we couldn’t help but rewind to 2015 to learn how the matte lip trend became so popular in the first place.

MILLENNIALS AND MATTE: A PERFECT MATCH

In 2015, it was the “King Kylie” era, when Kylie Jenner would constantly post snippets of her life on Instagram and Tumblr. She was the internet’s It Girl at the time and would show off her candy-colored hair, full glam makeup looks, and, her signature matte pout every chance she gets.

Eventually, rumors sparked that Jenner, then 17 years old, was getting lip fillers. At the time, she would continually claim that she was simply overlining her lips (note: Jenner caused a lip liner shortage when she revealed that she used the MAC Lip Liner in Spice to overline her lips) until she finally confessed to getting the injectables in an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. But by then, matte lips have already become an unstoppable force. Beauty brands started hopping on to the trend, and it wasn’t long before the market was saturated with matte liquid lipsticks. Some notable products that were in every beauty guru’s collections were the Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip, the Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick, and, of course, Kylie Jenner’s own Lip Kits by Kylie (now rebranded to Kylie Cosmetics).

Matte lips were all the rage back then because they looked amazing in photos. The 2016 makeup look had a more-is-more approach: bold brows, a cut crease, ultra-contoured cheeks (with no blush if possible), blinding highlighter, and matte, overlined lips. Pair that with a simple ring light and it became the makeup look of all the influencers on Instagram.

@emblawigum

2016 makeup during the king kylie era 👑💎✨ who kinda misses this era of makeup 🥹 it was a looot but so much fun!! ib: @Sarah New #makeuptransformation ♬ 3 strikes – lu

Instagram, too, was facing changes in 2016. They rebranded their interface into a more minimalistic one, added stories, and, perhaps the most impactful change, scrapped the chronological post order for a more algorithmic-based feed. This meant that Instagram was showing users posts they would most likely engage with, no matter how long ago it was posted. 

Social media influencers had already been on the rise and were being taken more seriously by brands, and these changes on Instagram pushed the engagement with their followers even further. The trendsetters and influencers at that time were wearing matte lips, which led to their followers wanting to follow suit. Jenner’s Lip Kits consistently sold out and resellers marked them up like crazy—and they still kept selling. Articles and Instagram posts were dedicated to finding dupes for the most popular liquid lipsticks of the time. Beauty gurus would show off their 100-plus liquid lipstick collections on their YouTube channels and list their favorite ones. Matte lips were popular because they were everywhere.

HOW THE PANDEMIC CHANGED THE POUT

Alas, matte lips weren’t immune to trend cycles. The trend had started dying down by 2017. Liquid lipsticks turned out to be less comfortable to wear than expected, but matte bullet lipsticks remained fairly popular. For instance, Charlotte Tilbury launched her Pillow Talk Matte Revolution Lipstick at the start of that year—and it continues to be one of her best-selling products today.

It wasn’t until the pandemic in 2020 that lipsticks—and the lips as a key focal point in our looks—began to fall off. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was announced, and the world went into lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. We weren’t leaving our homes, and in the few times we did, we had to wear face masks. Makeup, and especially lipstick, weren’t big priorities at the time.

As the lockdowns eased up and establishments opened up again, we still weren’t wearing lipstick under our face masks. Instead, we reached for lip gloss, balms, and tints to prevent a mess under the mask. It was also during the pandemic when TikTok grew as a platform—and so did the following of many top beauty influencers today. This brings us back to the clean girl trend, here we’ve embraced gloss and never looked back.

But like all trends, matte lips aren’t completely dead. The shift to gloss has prompted beauty brands to develop matte formulas that are far more comfortable than those from 2016. Some matte lip products even have their place in today’s trends, like the jelly lip trend, where matte lipstick is used to contour around the mouth. 

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INTO THE GLOSS

We asked beauty creators about their favorite non-matte lip products, how they wear them, and why they love them.

Teree Daisuke (@tereedaisuke)

“I like wearing the Peripera Water Bare Tint, especially at events for a more natural look. I sometimes apply a bit over my lips for that fuller effect. Sometimes, I top it off with a lip oil like the Clarins Lip Comfort Oil or the Gisuo Honey Infused Lip Oil for more moisture. I love how natural and healthy they make my lips look (I get compliments from viewers of my videos whenever I wear them!). I also like how they fit my style of makeup, which is more fresh.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to wear non-matte lipsticks, it’s more on how you want to use it based on your preference or purpose (natural looking, moisturizing, or both). I still like matte lips but I prefer wearing them diffused, rather than a full lip, again, for a more natural effect or subtle enough to give your lips a softer look.”

PERIPERA WATER BARE TINT

₱639.20, Look at me

Lip Comfort Oil

P1,800, Rustan’s

Vianne Borja (@kawaiivianne)

“I love glossy lip stains, specifically the Peripera Water Bare Tint in Muted Paradise, the Lucky Beauty Dewy Lip Stain in One More Chance, the Sunnies Face Juice Tint in Gem, and the Rom&nd Dewyful Water Tint in Custard Mauve. When I wear them, I apply concealer on my lips first. Then I apply a glossy lip stain on the inner part of my lips and dab it outwards to create a glossy soft gradient lip effect. I have been obsessing over the lip gradient trend—it’s been popular among K-pop idols for a few years now, and I can understand why. Using glossy lippies with this trend can make the lips look more plump and juicy! 

I’m also into tinted balms like the Sunnies Face Glide Gloss in Gumamela and the Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm in Vanilla Beige. I like how tinted balms are high-shine and moisturizing on the lips while still leaving my lips with color. I usually apply them all over my lips or use them as a topper. 

When it comes to matte lips, to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I wore matte lipstick. But when I use them, I like to wear them with a lip liner to outline my lips first for a cleaner look. The only matte lipstick I like is the MACximal Silky Matte Lipstick from MAC Cosmetics.” 

Lucky Beauty Dewy Lip Stain

P299, Lazada

Sunnies Face Juicetint

P445, Lazada

Czari Domingo (@legenczari)

My favorite non-matte lip products are the Rom&nd Juicy Lasting Tints for their formula and color range, Dior Addict Lip Glow Oils, and Kiko Milano 3D Hydra Lipglosses. I usually get cool-toned berry shades for the Juicy Lasting Tints as they brighten up my whole face, and as for lip oils and lip glosses, I always wear them with a cool-toned lip liner. It’s like instant lip filler! 

What I always teach in my workshops is that non-matte lips make you look less tired. Whenever I know I’m not looking well-rested, I try to make my lips look more plump, juicy, and naturally pink to lift up my entire face. Usually, I’ll pair a glossy lip with only brown liner and mascara, as well as lifted brows and a glowy skin-like highlighter. Somehow, the softness of the look and the way the different makeup elements catch light can create a much more flattering and fresh look. I’ve also always entertained the thought of lip filler to balance out my top lip with my fuller bottom lip, but deep inside I know lip filler wouldn’t be realistic for me.

For me, the right way to wear non-matte lips would primarily depend on the shade. For example, a glossy red lip is an instant scene-stealer, so I would keep the rest of the face more minimal. Baby pinks and berries make for lovely East Asian-inspired looks. Nude glossy lips, on the other hand, are my favorite to pair with intense colorful, smokey, or Avant Garde eyeshadow looks.

Despite the trends now, I think matte lips will always be a staple and I’ll always keep them in my collection. I particularly love them for punchier shades like deep reds and violets. Some of my fave formulas are from Violette_fr and Charlotte Tilbury. Of course, they’re much better for longevity, so I prefer them for long work days wherein I’m hosting, teaching, or attending events. They require less touching up, however, you must also make sure you choose the right formulas for your lips and prep properly with hydrating products beforehand.

DIOR ADDICT LIP GLOW OIL

P2,550, Rustan’s

KIKO Milano 3D Hydra Lip Gloss

P950, Lazada
Collage by Dannah Valdezco. Lip dripping gloss by © DAPA images. Square photo frame by © Kyryl Palmin. Hand with lipgloss by © Image source via canva.com

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