By now, it’s understood that virtually all trends are in some sense cyclical. It’s the reason the shag haircut your parents had in the ’70s is now worn by stylish young stars, and why too-cool TikTokkers are suddenly obsessed with low-rise jeans. But in the case of the liquid lipstick phenomenon of the late 2010s, it didn’t actually go anywhere—it just transformed. The modern version of liquid lipsticks are definitively sexier and more luxe than the deep mattes of yore. This sensation can only be described as latex lips—they’re impossible shiny but steeped in rich pigment for full-color coverage. And with so many of the top beauty brands debuting their take on latex lips, there’s never been a better time to try out the sultry fall trend. Ahead, the complete scoop on latex lips, complete with application tips from the industry’s most respected pros.
Where You’ve Seen Them
The real question is, where haven’t you seen latex lips lately? On the red carpet, A-listers like Salma Hayek, Kerry Washington, Dove Cameron, and Lori Harvey have all worn ultra-shiny, pigmented lip colors recently, a major pivot from the softly-glossed or all-out mattes favored earlier in the year. On beauty-obsessed apps like Instagram and TikTok, more than a few viral tutorials have featured latex lips, though not necessarily by name. Anyone who’s been tuned in to social media beauty trends this summer might have seen the latex lips craze coming based on earlier trends. After the massive virality of shiny gym lips, the mania over nourishing lip oils, and a full-on Juicy Tubes revival, it was only a matter of time before gloss combined with color in equal parts.
For their part, beauty brands are fueling the trend by creating top-rated latex lips essentials going viral in their own right. Lady Gaga’s powerhouse makeup line, Haus Labs, can hardly keep their Atomic Shake Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick ($26) in stock thanks to a slew of gushing TikToks demonstrating their reflective shine and sumptuous color—all locked in with transfer-proof “shine shield” technology. Urban Decay, perennially guiding trends, just dropped their Vice Lip Bond Glossy Liquid Lipstick ($25) in every possible shade, from sleek nudes to bold standouts like electric purple and rich, sultry reds.
Even luxury brands saw the movement coming and acted accordingly. Byredo, notoriously choosey about which sorts of products they actually manufacture, just launched their Liquid Lipsticks in Vinyl ($50), which come in a range of earthy nudes and bold reds. The brand also counts their Feverish Lipstick ($50) among their bestsellers for the way they shellack lips in moisture and shine without sacrificing any color. If a full-on gloss feels too overwhelming with a bright shade, their slightly more balm-like finish is a happy medium.
There are even tried-and-true ways to approximate the latex lip look without rushing out to buy a new product, too. In a wildly popular TikTok, one user demonstrates how to apply a colorful lip stain only to gently buff most of it away with a shiny gloss layered on top. As long as you have both the strong color and shine elements, you’ve nailed latex lips.
How To Wear Latex Lips
As some may remember from the initial rise of liquid lipsticks, the rich pigment that makes them so beloved can also be the thing that makes applying it a bit tricky. According to the pros, much of the headache can be mitigated by taking the time to do some proper lip prep. Sarah Tanno, Global Artistry Director of Haus Labs by Lady Gaga, says exfoliation is absolutely key. She suggests a sugar scrub across the lips to clear them of dry skin and debris (bonus—they’ll also look plumper and smoother) but says a lip balm and a clean mascara spoolie work, too. “Or you can use a little of a lip balm and a piece of scotch tape and it will pick up the dead skin cells,” she says. “And then you want to blot the moisture off the lips before using so you have really smooth lips for application.” To Tanno, the latex lips trend makes perfect sense. “The innovation really comes in the fact that you can now have the long wear of a matte formula, but with a high-shine finish,” she explains.
After prepping the lips with exfoliation and hydration, it’s time to make sure none of the color you’re about to lay down moves. Tobi Henney, celebrity makeup artist to stars like Jessica Alba and Ashley Graham, says lip lining is crucial before application, counting MAC, Charlotte Tilbury, Victoria Beckham Beauty, and Pat McGrath Labs lip liners as some of her all-time favorites. When you finally glide on the liquid lipstick, think of it like nail polish—too many layers or too thick of coats and you’ve got a gummy mess. Try to cover as much ground in the first swipe as possible. Of course, don’t be afraid to bring the product with you for on-the-fly fixes, too. “Lip prep, lining the lips, and touching up on the go are essential for a liquid lip look!”