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Lipstick vs. Lip Gloss: Which Is Better?

Lipstick vs. Lip Gloss: Which Is Better?

It’s a classic debate that probably won’t be completely settled by the time you finish reading this. Lipstick and lip gloss are two products used to add color, shine, and hydration to your lips and accentuate your pout. But, which is better?

At RMS Beauty, we concede: there’s no right or wrong answer to that question, but there are right and wrong products. Determining whether you need lipstick or a lip gloss depends on what you want from your lip product, and the safety of the ingredients contained inside it.

We’ll give you all the information you need to help you decide which product is best, and how you can avoid toxic ingredients that frequently hide out in traditional lip products.

What Is Lipstick?

Lipstick is a classic. You probably have memories of watching an older relative or friend apply it when you were very young. Lipstick offers color to your lips and can also offer lip-benefiting treatments like hydration or long-lasting wearability.

What’s Inside

Lipstick is made mostly from waxes, oils, and pigments. However, the sources of these waxes, oils, and pigments vary dramatically from brand to brand. Most traditional brands aren’t concerned with the safety or toxicity level of their ingredients.

In the U.S., cosmetics go woefully under-regulated, which means companies can insert ingredients into your favorite shade of red that you wouldn’t expect to be there. Lead, for instance, was recently found in over 33 different brands of lip color.

More frequently, you’ll find lipstick packed with parabens, a synthetic ingredient added as a preservative to increase the shelf life of the product. Parabens are known endocrine disruptors and carcinogens. Placing these ingredients on your lips gives them direct access to your body, because you’ll naturally ingest some of your lip color just by talking.

How To Avoid Unsafe Ingredients

The truth is, there’s little need for scary ingredients. Nature is packed with plant botanicals and oils that naturally add hydration and color to lipstick. Because it can be hard to determine whether or not your lipstick contains ingredients you don’t want, the safest way to shop is with a brand you trust.

RMS Beauty has some of the strictest ingredient standards in the industry. Just as important as what we keep out of our products is what we keep in. You can read about our ingredient commitment and standards here.

Types of Lipstick

Lipstick is available in every format from matte to satin, sheer to frosted. Typically, lipstick isn’t glossy or sticky. Even if a lipstick is said to be satin or shiny, you still won’t get the same type of shine you’ll find in a lip gloss.

What Is Lip Gloss?

Lip gloss was created as a way to keep lips feeling more comfortable and looking more hydrated. The problem with early versions of lipstick is that they were so richly pigmented that they lacked enough oil to keep lips from drying out.

Lip gloss offers a lighter pigment than lipstick, but a considerable amount of shine.

What’s Inside

Unlike lipstick, which relies more on wax, lip gloss contains more oil which usually means it does a better job keeping your lips hydrated. Unfortunately, many lip glosses rely on petroleum jelly to keep your lips looking shiny.

Petroleum is a household term, but it really shouldn’t be. As a byproduct of the coal-mining industry (and closely related to the gas you put in your car) this known carcinogen doesn’t really belong anywhere near your mouth.

How To Avoid Unsafe Ingredients

Just like lipstick, it can be hard to avoid dangerous ingredients unless you are familiar with your brand and know their ingredient standards. Virtually all traditional brands add unsavory ingredients to their lip glosses to give it the thick, goopy texture we’ve come to accept in a gloss.

The good news is, you don’t have to settle for bad ingredients or thick, goopy gloss. Natural oils and waxes hydrate lips while adding shine that lasts for hours without reapplying.

Types of Lip Glosses

There’s a difference between lip balm and lip gloss. Balms are created to hydrate your lips and sometimes offer sun protection. They can be tinted, but adding pigment to your lips isn’t the goal.

Lip glosses are designed to add shine and give your lips a glossy finish. Even matte glosses still don’t work like traditional matte lipsticks. They offer more shine and hydration than a matte lipstick.

Some lip glosses offer lip treatments like intense hydration or even lip enhancement, a method of adding chemical ingredients to your lip gloss to increase blood flow to your lips causing them to look larger than normal.

You’ll find lip glosses in sheer tints, in formulas that offer glitter, and in darker colors, although the color will almost always be much less pronounced than a lipstick.

Lipstick vs. Lip Gloss

We said in the beginning there was no clear debate between lipstick and lip gloss. Deciding which is better is a matter of determining what you need and what product delivers it.

For our purposes, we’ll compare lipstick and lip gloss based on pigment, hydration, comfort, lasting color, shine, and ease of application.


Sometimes a bold lip is the only way to complete your look. When you need rich pigment and true color, you’ll want a lipstick. Lipstick is generally more richly pigmented than lip gloss, and provides a color that can coat your lips without allowing your natural lip color to interfere with the true shade of the lipstick.

One to try: RMS Beauty’s Wild With Desire Lipstick. Available in eight gorgeous shades, our lipstick keeps lips hydrated with our signature Beauty Oil, and resists bleeding, fading, or feathering for all-day wear.


If it’s hydration you want, you might suspect that you’re limited to lip glosses, but this isn’t true. Many lipsticks have natural, plant-based ingredients that keep your lips hydrated better than some glosses.

RMS Beauty’s Lip2Cheek is a cross between a lipstick and lip gloss, and offers supreme hydration with ingredients like shea butter and buriti oil. The subtle pigments are perfectly balanced and allow you to get the perfect amount of color.

For Comfort

This category can be somewhat of a toss-up. Find a lipstick that focuses too much on pigmentation and not hydration, and you’ll likely feel like your lips are dry and cracking within hours of application. Pick a goopy gloss and you’ll spend the day removing stray hairs and particles of food from your mouth.

The key again, is ingredient selection. Natural, plant-based oils like buriti oil, coconut oil, and jojoba oil, paired with natural, sustainably harvested beeswax can create both lipsticks and lip glosses that are comfortable.

Long-Lasting Color

If you hate the thought of constant reapplication, you want a lip product that can withstand your morning latte and your afternoon matcha. Unfortunately, some ingredients added to long-wearing lip colors aren’t safe.

Formaldehyde, for instance, is often found in lipstick. Although it isn’t generally added directly, other chemicals added to your lip color to make them long-lasting can release formaldehyde when combined.

We recommend a plant-based lip stain with nourishing ingredients that keep your lips hydrated and comfortable, and offers color that grabs your lips and stays put for hours. You’ll find our Lip2Cheek is perfect for long-wearing color.


While matte lips may be an on-again/off-again trend, shiny lips will always be in style. Shiny lips look healthy and radiant, and usually have the added bonus of keeping your lips well-hydrated.

For the shiniest lips possible, you’ll almost always want a lip gloss, but thick, goopy glosses need not apply.

RMS Beauty’s Lip Shine is formulated with natural, hydrating buriti oil and a subtle pigment that leaves your lips drenched with moisture and the perfect amount of subtle color.

Easy Application

Both lipstick and lip gloss applications are made considerably easier by using a lip pencil to define your lips and guide your technique. Lip liner also offers a fail-safe to help keep your color in place and prevent feathering or bleeding.

Although tracing your lips and adding clear gloss is a very 2000s trend, you can certainly use a lip liner and a coordinating colored gloss to get a natural look.

Can’t Decide? Try Them Both Together!

If you aren’t sure if you need a lipstick or a lip gloss, try them both together. RMS Beauty’s lip products work synergistically when applied together to offer double hydration and supreme color.

If you want to layer, make sure you use a complimentary shade of lipstick and lip gloss. Focus on your lipstick shade and add a sheer sweep of subtle color over the top to enhance shine and hydration.

Get Lippy!

Lipstick and lip glosses are both tools you’ll want to have in your beauty bag. Lip gloss is a great tool for natural looks and applies easily and quickly. Lipstick can create glamorous looks and completely change the color of your lips to give you superior pigmentation and style.

Don’t debate which is better. Trust RMS Beauty’s lipsticks, lip stains, and lip shines to offer exactly what you need when you need it.


Lead In Lipstick - Safe Cosmetics

EWG Skin Deep® | What is METHYLPARABEN

Research Shows 22% of All Cosmetics May Be Contaminated With Cancer Causing Ingredients|

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