Lip powders are likely the most recent beauty product to make you go “Huh?” Why would you want to powder your lips, right? But lip powders are not that confusing—they are simply a powdery lip product that provide a more matte, blurred finish than traditional lipsticks do. This K-beauty trend has been trickling into the U.S. over the past several years, and now several brands here make them.
Melanie Huscroft, cofounder and chief visionary officer for Younique, notes that older formulas for lip powders felt very dry on the lips and didn’t offer much variety in terms of finishes. “Matte was really the only option to women and they felt heavy and chalky,” she says. The new batch of formulas are weightless, multidimensional, and creamy, and now come in both matte and shimmer finishes, she adds.
These products are a lot less messy than they might sound, especially with the more creamy formulations. Lip powders can come with a wand applicator or a brush, and even in a bullet, like a traditional lipstick. Of course, it’s also acceptable to use your own fingertips to apply the product. “I actually recommend using your finger or a sponge to apply lip powders,” says Westman Atelier founder Gucci Westman. “Lip powders can be used to add volume to the lip and the key is to build the product by dabbing or blotting with your fingertip to get a more diffused, natural look.”
Feeling inspired? Here are some lip powders to try.
Urban Decay Lo-Fi Lip Mousse, $22
Housed in a tiny compact, these mousses are a modern take on matte with a moist-to-the-touch powder that doesn’t desiccate your lips. When I first tried one, I was dubious, but its long-lasting stain effect and just-matte-enough texture make it one of my go-tos. Try it in Boom, a special ruby shimmer-infused plum hue. These boast a massive color payoff, yet are whipped to feel airy and divine, like you’re wearing nothing at all.
Buy it: $22, sephora.com
NYX Powder Puff Lippie Lip Cream, $5
NYX’s bright lip powders feature a sponge applicator and a velvet-matte cream texture. The candy-like hues work well when layered or when applied to the cheeks as a blush .
Buy it: $5, nyxcosmetics.com
MAC Powder Kiss Lipstick, $19
MAC delivers pretty-yet-unpretentious color with a “blurred, hazy, romantic feel,” says Keri Blair, senior artist for MAC. This powder-effect lipstick is for those of us who “still want that upscale, sophisticated finish of a matte lipstick,” she explains, but the formula includes moisturizing properties to imbue it with balm-like hydration.
Buy it: $19, maccosmetics.com
Maybelline Color Sensational Powder Matte Lipstick, $8
This lipstick coats lips with bold pigment for a soft, gorgeous look. It’s available in red and pink, but also in unexpected hues like brown, gray, and green. Its low price point means you can stock up on several hues for a whole powder lipstick wardrobe.
Buy it: $8, maybelline.com
Stellar Stardust Lip Powder Palette, $28
This set has an eyeshadow-esque powder consistency devoid of moisture—and looks just gorgeous on the lips. Available in two palettes, this trio of lip powders boasts a metallic finish and hues you can mix and match to customize your own bespoke blend.
Buy it: $28, sephora.com
Chanel Rouge Allure Liquid Powder, $30
“Liquid powder” is an intriguing contradiction, but Chanel’s sumptuous formula delivers with a creamy but soft-focus effect. The sponge applicator makes it easy to sweep on the lips for a gorgeous look.
Buy it: $30, chanel.com
Sephora Collection Lip Powder, $5
These Sephora lip powders are currently on sale for just $5—a price that can’t be beat if you want to try the trend with minimal investment. Wear one of their metallic lip powders alone on bare lips or on top of lipstick for a multidimensional look. The lightweight formula creates a unique, prismatic finish on lips, like a highlighter for your pout. Plus, the targeted sponge tip makes application super easy.
Buy it: $5, sephora.com
Younique Moodstruck Crush Lip Powder, $22
Available in nine punchy hues, Younique’s formulation transforms from powder to cream instantly for a pop of color that feels comfortable on the lips.
Buy it: $22, youniqueproducts.com