Written by Sarah Jones
Last Updated

There has long been a debate among women about which is the better product for glamour, lipstick or lip gloss, but the fact is these are two very different products with a rather different purpose and there should be room for both in your make-up kit. 


What is a Lipstick?

Lipsticks are used to apply a strong and definite color to the lips, which is long-lasting, very visible, and generally in a matt finish, although some can have a shine. They are perfect for wearing every day, or for an evening event, or any time you want to look done up. 

Lipsticks can be used with a lip liner to make your lip look enhanced and give you a better pout and they can last all day, particularly with touch-ups every now and then, for example, after you’ve eaten lunch.

Related read: Best Liquid Lipstick – 2020 Reviews


What is a Lip Gloss?

A lip gloss is normally a very sheer hint of a shade of color, but it applies a real sheen to the lips and has a more juicy formula.  They provide shine rather than color and are therefore ideal if you are wearing a lot of eye make-up and want to play down your lips.  

Lip gloss can be used to make your lips fuller due to the way it catches the light but it doesn’t last at all and needs re-applying constantly throughout the day. 


What are the Key Differences Between the Two?


  • The finish


There are many different types of lipstick that can provide different finishes including matte, frosted, and satin. Some may have a sheen to them but they are creamier and heavier products overall than a lip gloss. 

A lip gloss is a stickier product and will produce a subtle shiny finish every time, so there is no choice in the finish when it comes to a gloss. Shine is the only option. 


  • The style


Lipsticks can be used to create any style you like as they come in a never-ending variety of colors, shades, and types. You can match them with your outfit, your shoes, or anything else you choose. They can be natural or subtle or incredibly bold and dramatic, there is no limit.

A lip gloss will add a subtle shine and while some do include a slick of light color, there is nowhere near as much choice as there are with lipsticks because they can’t produce the same dramatic color effects. 


  • The practicalities


Wearing lipstick can take preparation, including using a lip liner and potentially multiple layers and much dabbing with tissues to get them looking just right. You don’t want the color to sink into any lines that you have around your mouth, for example. So it can take time to get lipstick looking perfect. 

Lip gloss can just be dabbed on or swiped over the lips fairly quickly as it doesn’t create the same level of color or finish as a lipstick. It can be updated throughout the day without even the need to use a mirror. 


  • How long does it last? 


As a rule, lipstick will last a lot longer than lip gloss and many lipsticks are now designed with staying power in mind, some even claiming to stay on for 24 hours although they can be very drying on the lips. 

Lip gloss doesn’t last long at all and will need to be re-applied on a regular basis if you want to keep looking your best. Each time you eat or have a drink your lip gloss will come off onto the food or the cup so it requires more work. 


  • Which one is best? 


If you are going out somewhere and want to look stylish and polished then the lipstick will finish off your look in a very classy way and is likely to stay in place throughout a meal or event as well. Even if you go for a nude shade a lipstick finishes off any make-up look. 

If you want to make your eyes stand out more and are wearing dramatic eye make-up then a bright lip might be too much so pair this with a shimmer of lip gloss. Also, if you want a natural daytime look then go for a sheen of lip gloss rather than a full-on lipstick.

Don’t let your lipstick come off easily: Best Lip Primer for Luscious Lips



Lipsticks and lip glosses both have their place in a modern woman’s makeup kit, as they can be used for different purposes and at different times. A very light look in the summer could involve a bronzer and a lip gloss, for that sun-kissed sheen, whereas a dramatic dark red lipstick can look amazing on a winter’s day. There is room for both products and you can even wear them together if you want a colorful shine.  


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