Which matte lip glosses are best?

“Matte lip gloss” can sound like an oxymoron, since gloss implies shine. However, with matte lip looks in the spotlight, there is a growing trend of matte lip glosses that add color without shine, giving lips a transparent, current look that is flattering and long-lasting. If you’re looking for a high-quality, long-lasting matte lip gloss, Smashbox Always On Longwear Matte Liquid Lipstick is the top choice.

What to know before you buy a matte lip gloss

Your skin tone

With glossy lip products, the sheen can overcome an incompatibility with skin tone. Since color is what the matte lip glosses are all about, knowing your skin tone and what colors work with it is paramount. Cool skin tones should lean to the mauves and taupes in a matte lip gloss, while warmer tones look great in roses and brownish hues.

Plain vs. plumping lip gloss

With no shine to create the illusion of depth, those who want a little volume in their lip gloss may want to buy a product that adds volume through plumping. Some plumping lip glosses simply contain moisturizing agents that add the appearance of volume to the lips, while others use ingredients such as peppermint oil to physically plump the lips for a temporarily bigger pout.

Level of color saturation

Some lip glosses add sheer color for more of a lip stain effect, while other matte lip glosses are deeply color saturated for full coverage. Each works in a different way to create a cohesive look. Sheer colors look playful and are great for daytime, while thick, full-cover matte products add drama and create a modern look.

What to look for in a quality matte lip gloss


Matte glosses have much to recommend them, but one downside is that they can be drying to the lips. That’s why it’s critical to find one that contains a moisturizing ingredient, particularly if you live somewhere with a dry climate or intend on wearing the product during the winter. It’s also a good idea to exfoliate and moisturize lips (a simple drugstore lip balm will do) so that you’re applying lip gloss on supple lips for longest wear and no caking.

Versatile applicator

Because matte lip gloss can be unforgiving if you color outside the natural lines of your lips, it’s important to find one with an applicator that lets you apply it exactly where you want it. A slimmer applicator is best, letting you get into the tricky spots around the corners of your mouth. To avoid the product spilling from the edges, taper off application 1/8 inch from the edge and press your lips together for a natural finish. If you’re particularly concerned about runaway gloss, get a good lip brush and apply it with that instead.


Matte lips glosses tend to last longer than shiny ones, so you can skip those billed as “extended wear,” particularly if your lip product application tends to be a bit shaky. Instead, look for one that’s easily removable so you can correct any mistakes and reapply.

How much you can expect to spend on a matte lip gloss

Drugstore options start at about $8. Upscale prestige brands average $30-$40.

Matte lip gloss FAQ

Do you need liner when using matte lip gloss?

A. Lip liner is a great idea with matte lip gloss because it tends to contain the product inside the lines where you want it to stay. You can use a bit of liner in a tone that matches your color to emphasize your Cupid’s bow and bottom lip, then apply gloss within those lines. If you’re looking for more contouring, use the liner to draw in the places where your lips naturally pucker, notably the center of your bottom lip and in a “V” at the center of your top lip. Apply lip gloss over that.

Do you need to apply multiple layers of matte lip gloss?

A. Most matte lip gloss goes on thick and stays put, obviating the need for multiple layers. In fact, multiple layers can make it look cakey and flat. Less is more with a color-saturated matte lip product.

What are the best matte lip glosses to buy?

Top matte lip gloss

Smashbox Always On Longwear Matte Liquid Lipstick

Smashbox Always On Longwear Matte Liquid Lipstick 

What you need to know: Offered in a wide array of colors, from bright red orange to nude, this long-wear lipstick feels lightweight and stays put without smearing or drying out your lips.  

What you’ll love: It goes on smooth and has a beautiful matte finish. A light, soothing blend of jojoba, sunflower oils and apricot keeps your lips feeling good. It has zero parabens or phthalates and is cruelty-free. 

What you should consider: Some reported that it tends to dry out quickly in the bottle. 

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora

Top matte lip gloss for the money

ColourPop Ultra Matte Liquid Lip

ColourPop Ultra Matte Liquid Lip

What you need to know: Intense color is the hallmark of this line of matte glosses. They offer a great range of hues, from dark reds such as brick to a flattering dusty pink called Trap.

What you’ll love: One application is all you’ll need for a full day of intense color. Despite its deep color saturation, it wears light and has no transfer.

What you should consider: Swatch the colors in person, if possible, as some customers reported the photos not doing the hues justice.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta Beauty

Worth checking out

Stila Stay All Day® Liquid Lipstick

Stila Stay All-Day Liquid Lipstick

What you need to know: Stila is known for its high-quality pigments and interesting colors, and it’s at its best with these soft, beautiful shades of intense mattes.

What you’ll love: It goes on surprisingly creamy for a matte lip gloss and lasts all day.

What you should consider: It can cake and get a bit flaky due to its long-wear formula, so apply it to well-moisturized lips.

Where to buy: Sold by Macy’s


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Maria Andreu writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.