By Amy Sciaretto

Every autumn it seems beauty editors, designers and pouty-lipped champagne sippers engage in debates of their own – over whether lipstick or lip gloss will reign supreme. For Fall ’08 magazines and cosmetic counters are rife with matte lips expertly painted with lipstick and a brush! Mouths are bold and bright, or nude and subdued. One thing is certain; those in the know are touting lipstick, lipstick, lipstick! as the amuse-bouche du jour. To wit we question: Is lipstick about to usurp gloss and assert dominance for the next few seasons? Had gloss worn out its welcome?

Poppy King, known as “The Lipstick Queen” for her tireless dedication and devotion to creating a supple, sexy mouth, can’t decide which of the two will emerge victorious this season, saying, “I love both gloss and lipstick! There are times and moods for both, so why limit yourself to one or the other? As gloss shades have become more sophisticated, gloss has become a staple for all women and will remain so. However, lipstick is the icon and will always be the icon when it comes to the lips.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! To help you decide what lip product suits you, here are a few of our picks (and a bit of sage advice from yours truly) to help you as you put your money where your mouth is:

LIPSTICK QUEEN SHINE HARDCORE GLOSS: Not for the timid, this potted gloss imparts a liquid latex shine that was big in the disco ’70s. Best worn at night and when the lights are low. Ultra-sexy and available in two finishes. The “Saints” are sheer and shimmery while the “Sinners” are more opaque. Slick Gold Saint on over your fave red lipstick or apply a la carte with your finger for a Charlie’s Angels/Studio 54-era smacker. Available at or Barneys.

URBAN DECAY LIPSTICK: The edgy, romantically gothy line has launched a huge collection of lipsticks in tubes that double as femme fatale accessories, thanks to the pint-sized dagger pull at the bottom! These full-coverage lipsticks, available in colors that range from blood red to cotton candy pink to lushly nude, retain a youthful appeal. The stick is etched with the Urban Decay logo for extra aesthetic oomph. And these lippies have a crème caramel flavor and aroma. We heart the flamey Revolution and the universally flattering, brown Apocalypse. Available at or select Sephora, Ulta and Macys.

GIORGIO ARMANI LIP WAX: It’s a satin-finish blush for the lips, with a weightless texture that hugs lips like a second skin and allows for versatility. A dab stains the pout, while brush-application makes for a bold, Gwen Stefani-inspired maximum-impact mouth. There’s six shades but Cardinal Red brings out inner screen sirens. The black lacquered pot has its own micro-mirror! A dot of clear gloss in the center of your lip increases sexiness. Available at or Saks Fifth Avenue.

CLINIQUE MATTE LIPSTICK: If you’re interested in pairing a classic, pigmented pout with minimal eye make up, Clinique High Impact matte lipsticks in go-to shades such as the nudish Pure Posh and the ripe red Cider Berry work best. Apply straight from the sleek silver tube or use a brush for a perfectly defined pucker. Available at or Macys.

PHILOSOPHY QUENCH YOUR THIRST LIP SHINE: If you want the best of both worlds, these 1950s inspired, super sweet soda fountain treats offer color payoff, subtle shine and yummy taste. Barrels of Root Beer and Not the Pits Cherry Cola are recommended for date night. Available at or Sephora stores.

While I love the sophistication of lipstick stained lips, you have to be incredibly poised when working a matte mouth. The golden rule of using cosmetics: Play up one feature and let the rest of your visage serve as a lovely supporting cast. Keeping that in mind, a strong matte or highly pigmented lip should be paired with neutral eyes. If you want the sultry allure of smoky eyes, keep it simple with a neutral lip (I prefer gloss here, but you can go for a nude and slightly matte lipstick). It’s all about balance, my friends.

Keep in mind that a matte lip can be a little more high-maintenance as gloss; you have to apply product carefully and re-apply periodically (half-eaten off matte lipstick is…kinda ghoulish). And you’ll want to make sure to check your teeth when using highly pigmented products – particularly lipstick.

My personal mantra happens to be “Shiny lips are a huge priority” and I would rather go naked than go outside without a slick of lip gloss. That said, after road-testing some of the newest formulas, I can’t say I won’t give lipstick a chance. Plus, I can always use a little gloss over my lipstick when I want a little extra oomph, right? Right!

Originally published October 2008
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