Our relationship status with matte lipstick: love-hate. The appeal of that crisp pop of colour keeps calling us back, even though, too often, thick drying formulas leave us craving a pout-first dunk into a vat of Vaseline.
Thankfully, the latest Korean beauty export offers a new, more user-friendly way to pull off the look. Lip powders provide that shine-free finish we can't quit, minus the heavy, chalky feeling. Here's what you need to know before you add one to your makeup bag.
What is lip powder?
As the name suggests, lip powder is lipstick in a powder form, offering a different finish and feel than classic creams, liquids and stains. The magic happens when you swipe them on: the pigment-packed dust melts into lips upon contact, leaving behind a thin veil of matte or metallic colour.
Worried a wax- and water-free formula won't feel fresh? Lip powders are formulated with silica, which helps the pigment spread smoothly, and often contain hydrating ingredients like vitamin E, coconut oil and glycerin. If that's not enough, you can always slip a bit of balm on first.
Similar to their eyeshadow cousins, lip powders come in various formats, from pressed powders nestled in pans (such as Chanel's new Poudre à Lèvres) to vials of loose powder paired with a cushion-tipped wand (think: Clinique Pop Lip Shadow and CLE Melting Lip Powder).
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How to wear lip powder
Lip powder looks great on its own or can be used to enhance your favourite lipstick. "For years we've been saying, 'apply lipstick, then dab loose powder on top to seal it and make it really matte,'" explains Chanel makeup artist Julie Cusson.
It's a technique Maïna Militza, the Montreal-based winner of Best Achievement in Makeup at last year's Canadian Screen Awards, knows well, having long used eyeshadow and blush to set lipstick. "They deepen the colour and help it stay put."
Exfoliate to get rid of any dry flakes since powders tend to amplify lips' texture.
Her top tip for a smooth application: "Exfoliate to get rid of any dry flakes since powders tend to amplify lips' texture." From there, you can glide on the colour using the integrated applicator, a brush or even your finger. If you're using a loose powder, just be careful when opening the tube, as the powder can easily fly out. Then tap any excess off the applicator to avoid fall-out around your mouth.
Why choose powder?
Liquid lipsticks may reign supreme right now, with Kylie Cosmetics and Rihanna's Fenty Beauty churning out chart-topping iterations, but lip powders promise the same intense colour payoff and multi-hour wear — plus, room to play.
The powder's extreme blendability begs for a bit of experimentation. If you're craving a fun lip look, Cusson suggests trying the ombré lip trend. "What I find really beautiful is applying, say, red lipstick and then dabbing on pink lip powder just in the middle to give it that washed-out effect."
For a quieter statement, try the blurred lip line trend seen backstage at Sonia Rykiel and Marco de Vincenzo. Just dab the powder on your lips, focusing on the centre, then use a cotton swab or brush to lightly diffuse the edges. And why stop at the lips? Sync up cheeks and eyes, too, by blending the same powder in each area. Status update: true love.
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