Matching the Gloss
Have you ever found a beauty product that is the end-all-be-all of its kind? Have you ever then had said product be discontinued, leaving you feeling distraught in search of a replacement? This happened to me a few months ago when I learned that Sephora had discontinued my favorite gloss of all time, forcing me to begin the hunt for a close match.
I sampled 9 different glosses (after double checking the return policies at Sephora and Ulta) hoping with my fingers tightly crossed that I would find something that would mend my broken, gloss-less heart. The collection of glosses I sampled ranged from $5 drug store brands to $26 high-end brands and in the end, I discovered that there could only be one gloss truly worthy of the same caliber of affection.
The Gloss, In Memoriam
I’m not sure what I can say about my beloved Sephora Collection gloss. It was a good gloss, one that served me well through several tubes, many late nights, and a few sweat mustaches in the summer heat. It wasn’t too sticky or too smelly or too glittery or too shiny. The color, named Earth & Fire, wasn’t too pink or too red or too opaque or too sheer. It was the kind of mauve-y tone that looked like my natural lip color, just a little bit better. (Although, I haven’t tried the Nipple Test with it yet and honestly probably never will because let’s be real this stuff is too precious to be wasting on my nipples.) It was truly the Baby Bear of glosses for me.
Needless to say, I was absolutely devastated (think Disney Princess-level theatrics) when I tried to restock my O.G. (Original Gloss) only to learn that it had been discontinued and removed from Sephora’s website. After a mild panic and a few days self-soothing with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked, I regained my resolve and set on my journey to find a replacement. Deep down, I think I knew then what I know now: there will never be a true replacement for my sweet, sweet Sephora Collection Ultra Shine Lip Gel in no. 35 Earth & Fire.
It will always hold a special place in my heart, but once I realized it was time to move on, I learned just how many other wonderful glosses were out there waiting for me. And now that I’ve moved past the fifth and final stage of grief—acceptance—I’m proud to share with you the results of my recent exploration in the world of nude glosses.
Buxom Full-On plumping Lip Cream Gloss in Dolly — $21, Sephora.com
Pros: This gloss is one of the few I tried that was actually close to the color for which I was searching. The color, Dolly, is described on Sephora’s site as “sultry mauve” which was of course right up my alley. I also love that it was the only one offering any sort of “plumping” effect. I don’t think I would ever seriously consider lip injections like most of the beauty community and I have pretty full lips as they are, but it never hurts to give what I already have a temporary boost. It also doesn’t have any glitter or shimmery nonsense, which is a huge plus for me. (As much as I love the glossy, wet finish, I can do without having my lips look like something that would be used to attract fish, thank you.)
Cons: Although I realize now that this may be one of the saddest makeup swatches I’ve ever seen, I can’t help but scrunch my face at how poor the color payoff is. It’s definitely closer to the pink end of the spectrum than what I imagine my perfect match to be, and the consistency is way stickier than I would ever feel comfortable wearing for a long period of time. And at $21 a pop, I’m not sure I would be able to justify keeping it as few times I know I would reach for it. Sigh. On to the next.
Sephora Collection Colorful Gloss Balm in Soulmate — $8, Sephora.com
Pros: Especially compared to our last contender, this gloss’s affordable price tag is one that makes my ears perk. As I mentioned in my Thrifted Threads post, I’m a firm believer in the tenet that more expensive doesn’t always equal better quality, and I think this gloss is a good case in point. It has a really nice consistency, much like my O.G. It’s almost as if they are distant relatives—ones that exchange greeting cards four times a year and “accidentally” forget to call on each other’s birthdays.
Cons: Obviously, this gloss is more purple than mauve. In fact, it makes my original gloss look more like a dusty rose (a color I love for my handbags–not so much for my face) which is disappointing at best.
It also had a different applicator than all of the other glosses. Instead of your usual doe-foot wand or even a brush-tip, it has a bulky squeeze tube applicator, making it especially difficult to apply the gloss precisely without making a huge mess. As much as I wanted to like this gloss (and trust me, for my wallet’s sake, I really wanted to like it), I just don’t think the low price tag is worth sacrificing practicality. Especially when I think about how cute I won’t look when I try to put it on in the dark (it happens) and it ends up all over my face.
Tarte Tarteist Glossy Lip Paint in Snap — $20, Sephora.com
Pros: Tarte is well-known for their ethically-produced beauty products and this gloss is no exception. It’s made without parabens or phthalates (don’t ask me to explain what either of those are, but I’m not mad that they’re not going on my face) and as with all of their products, it’s vegan and dermatologist tested. It has a nice finish, not too sticky or too sheer but not as creamy or as thick as a regular liquid lipstick!
Cons: Y’all I cannot get over the smell of this product. It reminds me a lot of Jeffree Star’s liquid lipsticks in a lot of ways, and not in a good way. (P.S. How do you guys feel about him? Let me know in the comments–I’m interested in knowing everyone else’s thoughts.)
It smells like a cleaning product that’s been sitting under your sink for one year too many and has such a pungent, invasive odor that your eyes start to water and you wonder if your counters might start to disintegrate should you actually try to clean with it. But alas, I digress. I honestly could hardly wear this gloss for more than a few hours during the day and I had to force myself to reapply, whereas I sought out my O.G. to coat my pucker with its soft luxury frequently throughout the day (admittedly, that’s probably part of why I’m in this predicament). Much like my Buxom friend from earlier, the steep price of this gloss is not one I can rationalize for something I might reach for once or twice a year, max.
NYX Butter Gloss in Strawberry Cheesecake — $4.99, Ulta.com
Pros: As the most affordable gloss on my list, it’s evident that quality is not compromised when it comes to cost. I’ve always loved NYX products (especially their lip products and brushes) because they feel luxurious without a price tag to match. I particularly love the consistency, since it’s not too sheer or sticky and fits the Baby Bear standard perfectly. The color is great, too, and one that will definitely be great for summer.
Cons: Aside from the Maybelline gloss and the Ulta stain, this color is probably the furthest from the O.G. of all that I tried. I still love it, though, so I’m definitely going to keep it in my collection! Who knows–it might even become my new summer O.G. shade.
Nars Velvet Lip Glide in Xenon — $26, Sephora.com
Pros: This is easily the closest match in shade of all the glosses I tried. It definitely has the same my-lip-color-but-better effect and it smells incredible. The texture is more cushiony than glossy, but it still feels cloud-like and cushion-y. It’s not sticky or too sheer or any of the qualities I wanted to avoid. The packaging is even better than that of my O.G., too, which means it doesn’t tend to get as messy.
Cons: My only real complaint with this gloss is the price tag. It’s tricky trying to justify shelling out almost 30 bones for a lip product, so I know I can’t rely on this gloss as heavily to be my end-all, be-all. Out of all the ones I’ve tried, though, this gloss is probably the closest match to my O.G.
Ulta Lasting Color Lip Gloss Stain in Monarchy — $9, Ulta.com
Pros: Ulta claims this gloss has staining properties, and I would say it certainly meets that expectation. I’m usually pretty apprehensive about staining products, but made sure this gloss was the last one I tried just in case (and thank goodness I did). It’s not drying, either, so I will be grateful for that when it starts to cool down and my skin starts to dry out a little.
Cons: Much like the NYX gloss, I wasn’t really surprised that this color was pretty off when I lined up all of the glosses next to each other. It’s (obviously) more of a berry hue than mauve, but that’s probably my next favorite lip color. Although this gloss doesn’t necessarily match my O.G., I’m definitely glad I found it!
Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid Hot Lacquer Lip Gloss in Too Cute — $7.99, Ulta.com
Pros: I do love the packaging of this gloss. It was one of the few glosses that had a pointed doe-foot wand, which made it really easy to make a precise application. The shape of the tube is also very comparable to the NARS gloss I tried, which is a pleasant surprise for a drugstore brand. I also (obviously) love the price point, though in some ways one would be able to identify it as a lower-quality product in a blind comparison.
Cons: Again, the color is just WAY off. If you look at the picture of this gloss in the featured image at the top of this page, you probably wouldn’t anticipate just how different the color is. It’s way more of a Barbie pink than I would ever wear on a regular basis, and honestly I
have other lipsticks that have a better color payoff. Even though it’s at the lower end of the price range, I’m not about keeping something around (or purchasing something in the first place) simply because it’s inexpensive.
Ulta Tinted Juice Infused Lip Oil in Tea Rose — $9, Ulta.com
Pros: This color is pretty spot on in comparison to my O.G., which I learned was kind of rare in my experiment. The gloss itself has pretty nice packaging that makes you feel like you’re getting quite a bit of bang for your buck.
Cons: Since this was technically marketed as a lip oil instead of a lip gloss, it’s way more sheer than I’d hoped. I think I’ll still keep it in my rotation since it’s a nice color and has a nice finish, but I think it will be best for my minimalist makeup days when I want to wear a little more than my favorite Burt’s Bees lip balm.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss in Vintage — $16, Sephora.com
Pros: This gloss is probably the runner up for best match behind the NARS Velvet Lip Guide in Xenon. I was actually given a sample of this gloss by a friend (thanks, Rachel!) and I think when the sample runs out, I’ll consider actually purchasing a full size tube of this stuff. The finish is great and it’s not sticky in the slightest, which (as I’ve said multiple times throughout this post) is always a plus.
Cons: The color is a little rosier than I’d prefer and it’s a bit more opaque than my O.G., but I think those are mere differences rather than detractors. Although the packaging leaves a bit to be desired, I actually really enjoy this gloss! I haven’t explored much into the realm of ABH products, but I think this gloss has piqued my interest.