Explained: Lip Finishes

Lip Finishes Explained

A finish describes how something looks after the product has been applied. The finish can focus on the texture, colour and overall result of the lip products. The term finish can be applied to Lips, Eyes, Cheeks and more. This post will focus on the different types of Lip Finishes available.

Certain brands such as MAC have their own unique names and finishes for their product ( a MAC specific post will follow later ) but most brands follow the same general classifications. We can break the brand universal finishes into seven different categories:

1. Matte Finish:

Matte Finish Lipstick – Viva La Diva Matte Lipstick “Soft Cerise”

  • Matte is dull and flat in appearance with no shine or liquid texture. It is often quite drying on the lip but not always.
  • This type of finish provides the most colour payoff. No other finish will provide as much depth and vibrancy as a matte finish. This is probably the most popular finish sold around the world.

2. Satin/Sheer Finish

Satin Finish Lipstick – The Balm Girls “Mia Moore”

  • This finish gives the appearance of gloss or shine. This finish is not a high shine. Satin/Sheer finishes sit somewhere between matte and gloss giving a natural and subtle sheen to the lip.
  • The colour payoff of this type of finish can sometimes be disappointing as they can often appear darker and more pigmented in the packaging.
  • The finish is recommended for those with dry lips as this finish contains oil which keeps your lips plump and moisturized throughout the day.

3. Creme/Cream Finish

Photo 15.05.15, 19.17.56

Cream Finish Lipstick – Limnit Lipsticks “Abracadabra”

  • This finish gives a soft shine and appears more natural than the Satin/Sheer finish. It almost looks like a lip that has been licked.
  • The colour payoff of this finish is reasonably decent but in terms of durability this finish requires maintaining and reapplication more often than most. I suppose it is comparable to a Lip Balm in terms of durability.

4. Pearl/Frosted Finish

Photo 11.08.15, 15.27.38

Frost Finish Lipstick – MAC Frost “New York Apple”

  • This finish is exactly how is sounds. Frosty shimmers like a crisp winters coating of frozen glitter. The colour payoff can range from bare minimum to deeply intense but the product is loaded with tiny particles of glitter to give it that glamorous sparkle.
  • Due to the wax content and glitter this finish is often incredibly drying and with that much glitter and sparkly involved you will need to reapply often. This is the perfect finish for girls (and guys) who are proud of their pout.

5. Gloss Finish

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Gloss Finish Lipstick


  • This can either be a high gloss or minimal gloss depending on the product. This is easily the most popular finishes for daily use. It is the easiest to apply as you don’t require a mirror, it is available for all price ranges and the variety of colours and shades available is immeasurable.
  • The versatility of this finish is another big bonus. Whether it is clear of pigmented it can be worn alone in small amounts, layered up to form juicy lips or even worn over other products. Gloss combined with a matte finish is a winning combination for fuller, juicy lips.

6. Moisturizing Finish

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Moisturising Finish Lipstick – KIM Handmade and Natural “Bad Gal Collection”

  • This finish give a wet and glistening look to your lips. A natural sheen which supplies your lips with the moisture they need. Again this is not a finish which will last. Like a Lip Balm you will need to reapply throughout the day but the benefits of this finish are soft, moisturized and kissable lips.

7. Long Lasting

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Long Lasting Matte – Kate Rimmel London “32”

  • Although technically this is not a finish I feel it is worth mentioning within this post. This type of lip product is the one favoured by busy ladies. You can choose (according to what the packaging claims) from 6 hours to 24 hour coverage. These long lasting types are usually a matte or satin finish which do last a long time. Fair warning thought, you will need a lip balm or vaseline as the longer it lasts the more drying it is due to the high wax concentration and if you eat a greasy burger (or anything greasy) you are likely to lose your lippy as the oil and grease will remove the product.

These are the basic universal finishes. As I already mentioned, depending on what brand you use will depend on the names and types they have. MAC for example have their own unique finishes such as Glaze and Lustre  but I will put together a specific MAC Lip Finish Guide.



  1. Would you mind posting which lipsticks you used in each of your pics? 🙂

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