Rant & Rave: Matte Lipstick

Tell us what you love and hate about...

Matte Lipstick

Rave: I love the richness of most matte lipsticks, and it’s amazing how long some formulas can wear… Rant: but they’re often drying in order to have such long-wear! They can also stain, which can be good or bad depending on the particular day or how it stains.

— Christine

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Seraphine Avatar

It really depends on the brand and formula. Mattes can be nice, but I prefer semi-mattes, velvets, and satins.

What I like about mattes: I generally prefer mattes for shades like red and fuchsia (although my favorite red just happens to not be a matte!). I like how mattes are less likely to feather into the little lines that run outside my lips. I like how long-lasting they are. A good matte will stay put through dinner.

What I don’t like about mattes: Some mattes are too drying and can become uncomfortable. I don’t like them for lighter shades because they make my lip wrinkles more obvious. I don’t like mattes that tug when you apply them, like MAC’s Retro Matte formula (though I discovered that a little Dior Lip Glow as a base makes the Retro Mattes glide on smoothly, better than any lip primer I’ve tried). I don’t like liquid mattes at all because they’re too drying and can’t be touched up. I don’t want to have to remove my lipstick and start over again every time I want to do a touch-up.

JM Avatar

I like the look of them, but they never stay looking fresh and good on me. They feel gross, too. I’m glad gloss is sort of regaining some popularity again because it’s just so much more comfortable to wear.

Francesca Avatar

Rave: I love the Velvet effect, the fulness of the color; they are very sophisticated, long lasting while I don’t fell they are so dry on my lipsticks. I absolutely love them
Rant: It’s my faviurite finish. However some matte are slightly hard to apply directory from the stick and some formulas (paired usually with Fair colours) could emphasize the lips Lines of you are them from very close

Nancy T Avatar

Rave: I love how velvety and glam a well-made matte lipstick looks on! Some of my favorite formulas are PMG MatteTrance, MAC matte and Retro matres(on occasion), ABH tube matte lipsticks and UD Comfort Matte formulas. Also, I love how they last quite a bit longer on my lips before I need to touch up, and they don’t gunk up or wind up on my teeth or wandering outside my lip edges!

Rant: They can tear my lips up in this very hot, dry desert climate if I don’t prep my lips thoroughly! Sometimes even if I do all the steps, it will happen. Another negative, our climate is so dry most of the time, that if it’s hovering over 90°F, I’ve had it happen where my matte lipstick became CRUMBLY on my lips. Which looks absolutely disgusting and gross, btw!

Mariella Avatar

For me, it’s all rant and no rave. I don’t like how they look on other people or on me….the Dry Gulch lip look is not a good look, with all those vertical lines emphasized and just a dry, not very “kissable” sort of look. And I really dislike how they feel when I wear them.

CeeBee Avatar

Overall, I gotta lotta love for ’em – as long as they’re not too dry. As soon as they make my lips look all raisiny and shrivelled, all bets are off. Overall, most have good pigmentation and lasting power but I do get a little bit fussy on how smoothly they apply – the ABH ones are like rubbing waxy chalk on your lips and I while I love some of the shades, I hate the application.

As I get older I find I prefer a more diffuse, blotted look with just a little bit of sheen so I tend more towards satin finish these days but mattes will always have a place in my heart.

Lauren Avatar

Rant. I do not like matte lipsticks. They tend to make my lips look pruney and are very uncomfortable. I don’t have chapped lips, but I have sensitive lips so even just the littlest teensy bit of drying (which all true mattes do to some extent) is going to be difficult for me. I wish I was one of those people who could wear dryer formulas and love them since they do tend to last longer. I’ve tried so many, but my lips aren’t having any of it!

Now, if it is a long wear matte that can handle having a gloss or balm layered on top then it is a 10 in my book. I wear a gloss over my CT bullet lipstick and it still lasts and is comfortable enough to get me through about 5-6 hours of wear (obviously with reapplying the gloss as needed).

Deborah S. Avatar

Rave: I love the opaque nature of most mattes. I prefer matte formula’s for many of the very deep saturated shades like reds, deep plums and berries. They don’t tend to travel in the lip lines that are outside of my lip ridges. They are fairly long lasting on me but since I am a lip worrier they don’t last as long as on other people. I know I will have to reapply during the day and that can be difficult with mattes. If my lips are well conditioned before application then I don’t mind the matte formula. I don’t mind the stain left behind as long as it is relatively even. I find the newer trend in velvet looking surface on the lippies to be very aesthetically pleasing.

Rant: Many are so drying that they suck the life out of my lips. Even with conditioning and using a balm, it just doesn’t feel comfortable to wear. I hate that they frequently wear off funny and leave that nasty gunk on the inner lip margins. I also don’t like lippies that actually do suck the moisture out of my lips as opposed to just feeling like it. I should end up with cracked lips at the end of the day! I find that many shades emphasize my natural lip lines which isn’t a good look either. I never wear super nude lips anyway since I don’t find them attractive on me and I have more natural lip pigmentation but I would definitely not wear a super nude matte. Because of several of the above factors, I almost always wear a lip liner over my lips before the matte lippie.

Nicole Avatar

I’m not a fan of matte lips- I have very dry lips and matte finishes aren’t comfortable. I personally feel like matte lips look odd and unhealthy, but then again I’m also not a fan of weird colors for lips (blue or gray, anyone?).

Rachel R. Avatar

RANTS: Matte is my least favorite finish. I think the finish is the least flattering on the lips, and makes them look smaller. Completely matte formulas are often dry and uncomfortable, and tug while being applied. Some even have to be warmed up before they’ll even spread on the lips, which I hate.

RAVES: Mattes generally wears the longest of all the finishes. There are some better formulas now that aren’t so uncomfortable, plus variations such a “comfort mattes,” and “semi-mattes” that I like. Velvety-looking mattes can be beautiful and are a must for some vintage looks. I adore a velvety red matte lip with a matte face and pin-up eyes. When I have a lot of shine on my eyes, especially if I also go with high shine on my cheek HL, matte lips help balance the look and keep the focus where I want it. They’re versatile, because they’re easiest to layer glosses, sheer lipsticks, and lip-safe powders over.

Mary Avatar

Well articulated Rachel , My beef with mattes is besides the dryness , and unflattering flat finish is that as you mentioned Rachel it diminishes the size of the lips.
Making them look dry and aged .
I can tolerate YSL mattes but they are a little more emollient and the finish is more velvety.

Jackie Avatar

Mostly rants: For the most part, they’re too drying and make my lips look like prunes. Also, some of them are hard to remove at night. On the other hand, I like how long they last. The only one that I really like is Stila’s Stay-All Day. I just wish they had more colors.

Nicole D Avatar

RAVE: It is my favorite formula during the hot and humid summer days. It depends on the brand and formula though. My favorite matte bullet lipsticks: Guerlain KissKiss Matte Lipstick (no. M307 – Crazy Nude, M375 – Flaming Rose), YSL The Slim Matte Lipstick (no. 12 Nu Incongru), PMG MatteTrance in Full Panic and Elson, and ABH in Kiss and Petal.

My favorite matte liquid lipsticks: Dior Addict Lip Tattoo (Natural Nude, Natural Cherry, Watermelon), YSL Tatouage Couture Liquid Matte Lip Stain (no. 16 Nude Emblem), Huda Beauty Liquid Matte Lipstick (Gossip Girl, Jetsetter, Trophy Wife).

RANT: I can’t stand the formulas that are drying out my lips or that are sticky. Two formulas that don’t work on me as they are very drying : the liquid lipsticks from KVD and ABH. Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink was a complete failure for me, as I felt it like glue on my lips.

On a side note: I always prep my lips before applying any lipstick (matte, semi-matte, satin etc.), as I have dehydrated skin and lips. I was told that it’s better to use a lip balm containing mostly coconut oil (or other occlusive), than a hyaluronic acid or a glycering-based one, as the last two are humectants and pull moisture from the skin. The coconut oil is an occlusive, therefore it locks in the moisture, creating a physical barrier. Some other occlusives that come to my mind: olive/ macadamia/ castor/soybean oil + shea butter.

Eileen Avatar

Only rants as far as I’m concerned. Mattes dry out my lips and emphasize all my lip lines. The result is a dehydrated, smaller looking, withered mouth. I don’t care that the formula lasts a long time because it really isn’t a big deal to reapply lipstick. Besides, a formula need not be matte to wear well over time. Personally, I prefer a lipstick with a soft sheen because it makes my lips look smoother, healthier, and more generous. And, to be brutally honest, I don’t think mattes are flattering on anyone. Sorry if I offend anyone.

Gamze Avatar

I prefer satin lipsticks any day. Don’t like the dry texture, the artificial look. I give them a wide berth whenever I see the word “matte”.

Lauranne Avatar

I am a die-hard matte bullet-style (NOT liquid-to-matte) lipstick expert, connoisseur, & fanatic. I collect, own, treasure, adore, & wear almost solely mattes, velvets, & demi- & semi-mattes—save for a limited selection of satins & creams purchased largely based on their rarely-found, unique hue over formulation, which I usually alchemically transition to render fully matte upon each application.
I abhor lip liner (there is no need for liner with HIGH-QUALITY matte lipstick—pencil liner creates an artificial-appearing, overly precise, dated—& altogether unnecessary—outline, imo. High-quality matte brands & formulas paired with tailored & honed application technique allow one to line & reshape the lips with the lipstick applied straight from the tube & create the virtually undetectable illusion of plausibly full, plump, pouty lips—which I was DECIDEDLY NOT BORN WITH, btw—& to do so swiftly & EFFORTLESSLY—once initially practiced & mastered.
I likewise eschew lip primer & balms (again, unless you have unusually dry lips, high-quality mattes DO NOT typically require an under layer of a moisturizing base), goopy creams, ALL GLOSSES, high-shine & sheer formulations & DETEST ALL mainstream drugstore brand matte lipstick (which unfortunately, due to incredibly cheap/low-quality ingredients & poorly-rendered formulas, have permanently turned MANY a potential matte lippie convert away from experiencing the ecstasy of mattes-done-right, as well as given the formula a categorically undeserved & tarnished reputation as being summarily either too drying, flat, chalky, patchy, aging, dragging/tugging &/or guilty of myriad other matte-gone-wrong sins).
If still on the fence, I assure you it is COMPLETELY worth it to spending some “quality time” at Ulta, Sephora, or an upscale department store’s cosmetic department perusing, swatching & sampling higher-end matte lines (surreptitiously AVOIDING Mac’s ‘retro-mattes’, standard ‘mattes’ &/or demi-/semi mattes—notoriously dry &/or known for consistently uneven application—as well as ABH—which is astonishingly dehydrating).
First-timers (of either matte bullet lipsticks or high-end matte bullet lipsticks in particular) will want to go for Urban Decay’s VICE Collection ‘Comfort Mattes’: My absolute top recommendation in terms of BOTH quality AND price; Shiseido; Dior; NARS; Guerlain; & Lancôme.
I’ve yet to try Charlotte Tilbury, Tom Ford or Christian Louboutin simply because of those bespoke, I’ve only been partial to (LOVE-at-first-swatch!!!), shades identical to one’s I already own from one of the less-expensive high-end aforementioned brands. But once the bullets in my existing stash have been bitten (down to the nub, that is), do not doubt I’ll be MORE than willing to bite the bullet & shell out the bucks for a taste of one of those very-top-of-the-line, creme-de-la-creme, luxe matte bullet lipsticks (or 50) 😉 .

Linda Avatar

I like how they tend not to bleed like the creamier lipsticks do. But I don’t love how drying they can be. Also not the best to put on if you’re in a rush, as if you don’t get it on perfectly in the first swipe, it’s more difficult to fix.

Nikki Avatar

I think matte lipstick looks incredibly polished. I don’t really have many problems with them-any that are drying tend to work well on me with a coat of lip balm underneath. YMMV, of course.

Louise Avatar

Rave: I love the finish, the vividness of colour, and most of all how long lasting the formulas I’ve tried are!

Rant: My lips are already dry and I can no longer go through a whole day wearing a drying matte lipstick. It emphasises the cracks and lines on my lips and it’s just not a good look. Also you really do need to touch up after eating as they don’t wear away naturally and evenly as a lipgloss would, for example, and I’m personally not the best at remembering to touch up.

It’s really been 1-2 years now since I’ve worn a matte lipstick; in fact it was pretty much the only formula I would wear, but I don’t really see myself going back now!

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