Pot, tube, wand, stick-shiny, sticky, gooey, waxy-wet, metallic, vinyl, molten-medicating, healing, moistening, plumping-flavoured, scented, marbled, layered-duo, combo, clutch-size, kit.
Lip gloss comes in any guise, any size, any shape, any price; performs any function and plays havoc morphing on the colour-spectrum wheel like a Pantone ink, ranging from clear to near black, stopping off to soak up the deepest or palest hues of every colour range, adding gold or silver for added zing and sparkle, deepening or transforming the colour it overshadows below.
A chameleon in the make-up jungle, lip-gloss is whatever you want it to be, in whichever form, in every whazzzzup shade in the beauty kingdom. What other beauty product can be, and is, all things to all girls? What other make-up was our first love and will still be our last?
Is there anyone of us who will not have started our love affair with lip-gloss after our first experience of chapped lips? We used salves and sticks and roll-ons to heal and soothe the first blistering of winter. (Bonne Bell Lipsmackers, Chap-Stick and Blistex-you lived in our lockers!) But we quickly progressed on to romance, and that meant kissing. You’d have to have been on eternal life support to have missed knowing/having/using/coveting those cult status pots and tubes of 8 Hour Cream, Carmex and Rosebud Salve, for all those times when you over-skied, over-snogged or over did something to the point of burning and chafing!
Let’s recall when we first started our experimentation; our training-bra staple of Make-Up 101-clear lip-gloss-worn singularly, or over lipstick once we developed our nerve and got past Vaseline. MAC Lip Glass in a tube is the make-up artist’s gloss du choix. Just sticky and shiny enough for the bright lighting of photo shoots, it is as easily pocketed for re-application by the model on a go-see. A close cousin made by 8 Hour Cream’s grand mere Elizabeth Arden, her Crystal Clear Lip Gloss also in a tube is smaller and less pricey. Both require licking our messy fingertips. Gal Pal Bobbi Brown Essentials Lip Gloss is offered up in a more opaque, whitish brush wand version with a slight hint of vanilla scent and a sticky medicine-feel. Stila supplies the gooiest goop of all, in teeny metal tubes to roll-up like toothpaste samples, with added shimmer; Posey is our fave. (L’Oreal econo-lookalikes Glass Shine here; try Crystal Sparkle). Origins make a chocolate-mint flavoured opaque white glimmer gloss with wand, Transforming Lip Glaze, that has the added charge of changing and paling-down the colour of lipstick worn underneath, plus acting as a breath freshener!
It was crystal clear to us we needed to explore further. Next we dabbled with lip-coloured pomades that retained our innocence and naiveté with the barest hint pink as a baby’s bum skin surfacing like a fleshy promise. We could now ‘skinny dip’ with our lips, naked without getting caught out, unadorned! We all cherish recreating that fruit-stained, infanta-lipped, wet and natural look of ‘girl next door’, nervously biting our lower pout, mindlessly toying with our fresh-as-new-mown-hay hair, while we blushed and flirted. We had our reasons and seasons to go native on the lip-gloss-down days, weekends, boys who hated us ‘made-up’. Benefit still owns the ground on the best bottle of rose-fragranced liquid tint to naturally flush our lips (and cheeks), Benetint, and its Benetint Lip Balm now adds the sheen we craved to be on top. Philosophy’s pots of healing salves Kiss Me and Kiss Me Red in flesh or cherry have vitamins and nut oils and are almost gel-like and moist. Too Faced Bunny Balm in Peek-a-Boo Peach or Girly Grapefruit are two great natural flushes of colour. Even La Mer has come off its hoity pedestal to join its girlfriends here with a minty pomade La Mer The Lip Balm. And don’t forget Kiehl’s Pink Pearl Light Lip Gloss-never obtainable, and Nars Sweet Charity-both whose waxy pots of many other colours are elevated by many to Hall of Fame status.
Now that we’re big girls, we dared to go further, we wanted to go all the way. We wanted bigger and fuller lips, sexier and poutier come-hither smiles. The Wonder-Bra of glosses, to puff and push our lips up and out a size or two, is the best ever gloss to effect a bee-sting without needles, DuWop’s Lip Venom. With its teensiest, spiciest, tingliest clear gloss in a vial with sponge tip applicator, the cinnamon oil with ginger plumps and swells the lips for a full 10-15 minutes of after burn. After the glow wears off, we can still ‘fake it’ multiple times by re-applying, or switching to Venom Flash in Gold or Silver, or Venom Gloss like Lantana, a hothouse pink, or Love in a Mist a retiring lilac shimmer, in tubes with self-applicator tips. Although there are many other lip treatments that claim equal results of filling and pumping lips out, there are also glosses that do overtime like TheBalm’s Lip Plumper that does the trick in under 3 minutes while adding kiddie flavour as in Bubble My Gum and Water My Melon; Dessert Beauty Plumping Lip Fragrance Glosses in Dreamy, Creamy, Juicy and Luscious-serve up flavours right out of a patisserie vitrine like vanilla/caramel, chocolate/coconut, strawberry and butter cream-rich enough to blow the calorie-count. Joey New York’s Opti-Brite Lip Shine (try Rose) claims to make teeth whiter; slather it on after using its Super Duper Lip Kit for full-on sting.
And to cover every other fickle mood swing, good hair day/bad hair day we might have had, Lancôme firmly stayed the course with its Juicy Tube offerings, updating and changing its range as often as a 15 year old girl changes her mind. In generous though pocket-sized tubes with self-applicator tips, Juicies are carefree and kicky, with bags of clear colours and invigorating flavours to choose from-succulent berries Framboise, Cerise and Fraises, tangy, tart Citron, Beach Plum and Pamplemousse, floral Violette and off-the-diet list treats like Daiquiri and Dreamsicle. There are even smaller sized tubes in limited kits. Introduced in line with the season, some Juicies are discontinued but others soon take their place, keeping the range fresh and current, and evolving, nothing going stale in Juicies’ closets! Two of the best clear Juicies were Sirop de Rose in whisper pink and Sirop d’Eau in watery blue, both reminiscent of French children’s fountain sodas, sweet and pure.
For those silvery nights or über-shine days we were lured into the realms of seductive light-refracting transparency. We discovered the art of illusion and magic and glow. Guerlain added Lip Gloss to its Meteorites arsenal of illuminating, opalescent enhancers. One of the chubbiest tubes available, it nestles perfectly next to Meteorites cloisonné evening powder compact for a night at the opera. Estee Lauder Pure Colour Crystal Gloss in Orchid Paradise is a holographic wand gloss with petrol-sheen blues and violets overlaying its clear, figgy-signature base. Chanel Glossimers swirl metallic gold or silver in their magic wand with fleshy, meaty pinks, rouge reds and earthy bronzes glimmering beneath like magma oozing towards the surface. Try Twinkle, a rosy gold, for a multi-layered sheen plopped in the middle of the bottom lip. Coco’s little stepsister Bourjois provides a copycat here with its Effet 3-D Brilliance a Levres-sample no. 70 at a fraction of the rue Cambon price. Another light-altering range to suit all skin types is by Revlon-Skinlights Glosslights gloss tubes-reflecting a discounted price, too; use all-purpose Rose Quartz and save the pennies for those Manolos.
When we needed confident in-your-face status and upfront glitter glamour dazzle, Dior shook our bootie teasing us with sheer wands of Dior Addict Ultra-Gloss in Sip of Lemonade, Nibble of Nuts and Lick of Taffy; or Diorific Plastic Shine, perfect for clubbing and posing. Going on as slick as skin-tight PVC, its vinyl polymer gave us control and ‘safe’ pulling power. #357 was the dusky rose we loved under the strobes. We never got over our one-night stand with Versace’s Wet Cream Lip Gloss either-we always wanted to go back for V2052, a fuchsia veil of pink, always out of stock. We licked our lips for Hard Candy’s Super Shine Lip Glosses in Babydoll, Flirt, Pixie and Oxygen -brush wands with minute flecks of flashy glitter in a yummy gloss tasting of cake batter, and their new Lip Sorbets, cooling gels in fruit-flavoured tubes-Strawberry Squeeze, baby pink, Passion Play, peachy coral and Lime Kiss in clear. After we’d blown our rent-money on those shoes, we loaded up on dime store Maybelline Water Diamonds liquid wands in Rhinestone Pink and Pink Ruby and still looked a million bucks on a budget!
Speaking of economising, we had an on-off obsession purchasing lip-gloss combos and kits that gave us maxi-choice in mini-sizes at slashed prices to pop in our pochettes. Like cocktails at Happy Hour, we never met a 2 for 1 duo we had the heart to turn down; the best ones we remember are Jr.Duos by Delux, its Thumbelina double-wand in complimentary colours of lip gloss and cheek blush in Nibbly Nude and Twinkly Pink; Eyeko’s Fat Balm in Minty for lips and cheeks, and Cargo who loved us and left us with 2-toned pots of thick glop to layer and deepen our smackers. Try Flin Flon, Over/Under or Cancun to juxtapose layers of think and thin colour, or just to add highlight. We rubbed the remainder on our fingertips to smooth those stray eyebrow hairs! Even though it was an unrequited love, we kept falling for the same come-on, buying mini-kits by Urban Decay with XXX Lip Shine in Uzi, Gimlet and Ozone, clear frosty minty sparklers; Rocket City Space Case in Pinks (we loved the name-Pocket Rocket!) and Trish McEvoy’s uptown girl notebooks Celebrate and Natural Maxed Out Lip & Gloss kits-quelle choice! Pixi Perfect Pink Gloss Kit finally stole and won our hearts with 8 pink glosses in a pocket-sized compact and its own munchkin lip brush. Gloss a go-go!
And when we craved danger, or the dark side, or a love was too deep, too possessing, we shored up with our power gloss that spelled it out for all comers; a gash of red, a slash of blacky purple, even bronze. We were the vamp, the boss, the super-duper-über-babe, a cyber girl who meant business! Colours that warned and flashed beware, and once slicked up, looked like a tar pit or a crime scene. Cliniques’ Glosswear Black Honey, once a pot now a wand was never out of our repertoire. YSL Lisse Gloss Lip Lacquer in Spice; Kevin Aucoin’s Liquid Patent Lip in deep burgundy gloss, Infernelle; Urban Decay Lip Gunks in Bruise and Gash (you’ve seen CSI); Face Stockholm’s black Wicked pot gloss; and the ultimate Goth shade, Helena Rubenstein’s Black Spell lip gloss. Courtney Love, Grace Jones, Cruella-stand down!
So now, as we look back in our make-up bags and drawers, and the colours we have explored, we still linger longingly over that one empty pot or tube of gloss that is now lost to us, our cherished one, our trusty. We can’t seem to throw it out. We’ve squeezed, scraped and rolled it. We’ve bought copies, but none held a candle. We know we’ll find it again one day, and we search for it, everywhere we travel, everywhere we wander. Looking for a replacement, looking for our first love.