Lip gloss is a type of cosmetic product applied to the lips to make them appear shinier and smoother. Lip gloss may be colored and provide a tint to the lips, similar to lipstick, or it may be clear and only provide a bit of shine. Lip glosses are a popular part of many makeup routines; they differ slightly from lip balm, however, in that lip balm is typically designed to protect and condition the lips without providing much shine or any color tint.
Lip gloss is available in virtually any color imaginable. However, the color received on the lips from applying gloss is not typically as strong or saturated as when using lipstick, so those looking for a more dramatic look may choose to look elsewhere. Lip glosses, on the other hand, create a subtle, more natural appearance. On the downside, they tend to be stickier than lipstick; many people find their hair sticking to their lips when wearing gloss. Lipstick also tends to last longer, and needs fewer reapplications than gloss.
In addition to color, many lip glosses offer other benefits as well. Some contain ingredients designed to moisturize and soften the lips, while others may contain sunscreen to protect the lips from UV damage. This is especially important, because the shininess of lip gloss tends to attract sunlight, which can lead to burns, wrinkles, or even skin cancer. Lip glosses generally contain sunscreen from approximately SPF 5 to SPF 15; lip balms may contain higher a higher sun protection factor.
Lip gloss may be worn independently on the lips, or it may be worn on top of lip balm or lipstick. Wearing gloss on top of lipstick is fairly popular, because the color of the lipstick lasts longer when protected by the gloss, and the gloss adds a shine to the lipstick that is not typically present in the cosmetic. The gloss may contain ingredients to give it a metallic or glittery appearance as well. In addition, lip gloss is often flavored or scented to be more appealing, and may contain antioxidants such as vitamins C or E.
Lip gloss is sold in various forms, including a small tub where the gloss will need to be applied with the finger; in a squeeze tube where the lip gloss is applied directly to the lips; in a twist-up form similar to lipstick; or in a tube with a brush or applicator wand, to allow the user to brush the gloss onto the lips. There are also lip balms made with all natural or organic ingredients, for those interested.