What is Sheer Lipstick?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2019
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Sheer lipstick is a cosmetic for the lips that is made with very little tint. In terms of packaging, it may look very similar to other deeply tinted lipsticks, but it delivers a very different visual effect. A opaque red lipstick, for example, will completely conceal the natural color of the lips and cover them in a red on par with the color of a ripe cherry or paprika, depending on the hue. A sheer lipstick in red, on the other hand, will simply deliver a red tone and a bit of shine to the natural color of the lips.

One of the reasons that people use sheer lipstick is to create an understated look with their makeup. While deep, concentrated lipstick colors are often appropriate for evening events, many women do not feel comfortable wearing such colors during the day. Therefore, sheer lipstick can be used during the day and be switched out for more concentrated hues around cocktail hour.

This kind of lighter lipstick is also often used by women who are trying to create a more natural look with their makeup. When coupled with other similar cosmetics, sheer lipstick can give a woman a finished, pulled-together look while not making it immediately apparent that she is wearing makeup. Similar cosmetics include sheer facial powder and sheer blush, lightly tinted eyeshadow, clear mascara, and eye pencil that closely matches the natural color of the wearer's eyebrows.


Depending on the formulation of the cosmetic, sheer lipsticks can deliver a high gloss, a matte finish, and everything in between. Choosing a level of gloss in a lipstick is entirely up to aesthetics of the wearer. Many professionals in the cosmetics industry advise that women with thinner lips should wear lipstick, sheer or otherwise, with a higher level of gloss to make their lips look a bit bigger. Women with larger lips, on the other hand, should use lip cosmetics with more of a matte finish so that the lips don't seem to take up the entire face.

Choosing the best sheer lipstick requires considering the colors that best complement one's skin tone, eye color, and hair color. The level of gloss in a lipstick is also an important factor, as noted above. Try out a few different kinds of sheer lipstick by browsing at local beauty counters or cosmetics stores. In addition to testing different colors, the sales people should be able to provide some helpful assistance and direction.


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Post 4

I tend to use nude lipstick because I hate the stain colors leave on cups and glasses. I get the impression that sheer lipsticks could be a good alternative though, which is nice to hear.

Post 3

@Cupcake15 - I agree. I like when my lipstick lasts a long time. I don’t usually wear sheer or glossy lipsticks because they tend to bleed and accentuate the lines around my mouth. I hate when that happens so I avoid lip stains with a passion.

I also avoid the coral lipsticks or the orange lipsticks unless I have more of a tan because these colors look best when you have a nice golden glow. In fact when I worked for a major cosmetic company in a resort community, most of the women that came in were retired and they all had nice golden tans.

This was the only market where our coral and orange lipsticks would sell. The rest of the country could not sell these colors.

Post 2

@Icecream17 - I do that sometimes too. I wanted to add that I do not like sheer lipstick because it doesn’t last. I hate having to reapply my lipstick constantly.

I also don’t like that the sheer lipsticks tend to be weak in color. I prefer matte lipstick. While matte lipstick is a little drying, it doesn’t bleed or feather. The color also lasts a long time.

I usually outline my lips with a lip pencil and shade it in slightly and then apply my lipstick so that it stays on a long time. I also hear that if you apply foundation to your lips and then pressed powder before you apply your lip liner and lipstick your lipstick should look really fresh for a long time.

Post 1

I like sheer lipsticks. I like a lip stain because I want a hint of color on my lips and do not want my lipstick to overpower the makeup on the rest of my face.

I usually do more dramatic smoky eyes so I try to use sheer nude lip color in order to complete the look.

However, if I wear red any lipsticks or pink lipsticks I will put the lipstick on first so that I don’t overdo the eye makeup. When I place my lipstick first, I usually do moderate warm tones on my eyes. I avoid the smoky eye look in this case because if not, I will look like a clown. You really can wear any color as long as you apply it correctly.

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