Is Lip Gloss Makeup? Where’s the Line Between Makeup and Lip Care?

beautiful young woman doing makeup using a lip gloss
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Lip cosmetics are considered a mainstay when it comes to makeup products, and it’s easy to guess why. Thanks to their relatively low costs, lip products like lip gloss make for a quick, affordable way to perk your complexion up and add a little something to your look. 

But is lip gloss makeup? What about tinted lip balm? Where’s the line?

After all, it’s just a glossy substance that you apply to your lips to make them appear shiny, hydrated, and plumper and does not do much in the way of changing your appearance. 

Let’s find out a little more about lip gloss, and look at the line between lip care and makeup. 


Is Lip Gloss Makeup?

Lip Gloss

The short answer: absolutely! Just look at those beautiful lips!

By definition, makeup is any cosmetic that is applied to the face that is used to alter or enhance your appearance.

And lip gloss is certainly an appearance-enhancing product! 

As we mentioned earlier, it makes your lips appear fuller and glossy while providing some practical benefits in the form of hydration.

Many lip glosses also come in different colors, adding a subtle but pretty tint to the lips to enhance their natural color. Lip gloss can help your lips feel better too, but lip balm is better for that.

So yes, lip gloss is definitely makeup! That said, it’s probably less makeup-y than lipstick.

So yes, lip gloss is definitely makeup!

Lip Gloss vs Lipstick

While lip gloss and lipstick are quite similar in that they are both cosmetics applied to the lips, some subtle differences between the two set them apart.

Let’s go over these differences now:

The Finish

The finish of any lip product refers to how it feels on your lips and interacts with light. For instance, a finish might feel creamy, dry, silky, or moisturizing. The product’s weight also comes into play, as lip products can feel thick, light, or somewhere in between. 

Lip glosses, and certain lipsticks, add a sheen to the lips, reflecting light and making the lips appear shiny.

On the other end of the spectrum, matte lipsticks hardly reflect any light, creating a completely matte appearance on the lips. 


The pigmentation in any cosmetic product refers to the intensity and opacity of its color. A lip product with little pigmentation will appear faint when applied, while another with rich pigmentation will appear vibrant. This is irrespective of the color or its tone. 

For instance, a powder pink lipstick will appear more vibrant than a burgundy lipstick if the former is highly pigmented and the latter does not have much pigmentation.

Understanding the level of pigmentation in lip products and how they work together is essential to finding colors and shades that work for your complexion. 

A highly pigmented lip product can appear too stark for women with fair complexions. Conversely, as many people of color will know, makeup with low pigmentation will appear extremely faint on darker complexions. 


This is a pretty self-explanatory category – appearance refers to the way that the lip product looks when it is applied. The pigmentation and finish of the product are the two primary factors that influence the way that a lip product looks when applied. 

The look could be high-fashion and eye-catching or natural and breezy. When choosing your lip product, consider how it will contrast, complement, or clash with your overall look for the day. 

Lipsticks can build pretty much any look you want and facilitate some great experimentation. Lightweight lipsticks work well for summer-y, delicate looks, while highly pigmented lipsticks work well for creating a statement. 

Lip gloss, on the other hand, is defined by its shine. The thicker lip gloss textures tend to make the lips look fuller and more supple (more kissable, perhaps?). Just be aware you can definitely go overboard with lipgloss.

With just one swipe of gloss to the lips, you’ll instantly be able to achieve a natural shine that completes the look and makes you appear put together. 

Staying Power

Naturally, you want your makeup to last as long as possible. Unfortunately, compared to many other cosmetic products, lip products are more likely to fade during the day, particularly after a meal. Some lipsticks are specially made to last and are great if you hate reapplying your lip color often. 

Lip glosses do not have the same staying power as lipsticks and tend to come off extremely easily. However, you can take certain measures to ensure it stays put for longer, like creating a color base or setting your gloss with setting powder. But, to be safe, try to carry your gloss with you throughout the day.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).