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I’m a big proponent of makeup. Doesn’t sound like a controversial thing for a beauty writer to say, but honestly, you’d be surprised. Because while makeup is certainly still a Big Deal, often, it’s a more casual, undone approach that just seems cooler. While there’s really no better mood booster than a neon matte lipstick, for day to day, I favour a more subtle affair. Here is my round up of the best “barely there” lip products.

The product which really started this quest for me is the Glossier Generation G Lipstick. They’ve recently been reformulated, and are a little more pigmented and matte, but still offer that super-chic, blotted effect. My top two are Like, which is the definition of a “my lips but better” shade, and Leo, a subtle yet statement darker nude. Apply messily to give an understated overlined effect.

Lipstick Queen is another brand which excels in the “barely there” category. While their traditional lipsticks are great, it’s their colour changing formulas that really do it for me. Frog Prince is a green to pink, Hello Sailor a blue to berry, and Girls Will Be Boys a grey to matte mauve. Each gives a sheer wash of colour and make lips look smooth, plump and (dare I say it?) kissable.

An oldie but a goodie in this category is old faithful, Benefit Benetint. I tend to avoid this on the cheeks, where it can leave tell-tale paint strokes, but I adore this as a flush of colour for the mouth. It basically gives you the slightly-irritated look of having been recently snogging, which is, IMO, always a good thing.

If you love a stain but want to change up your shade a bit, I’d point you in the direction of the Clarins Water Lip Stains. There are four of these and they’re all fabulous, but my top choice is Violet, which gives the prettiest berry stain. If you want to look like you’ve made the effort, but somehow still look effortless, this is the product for you.

For a more hydrating, sheeny vibe, the Frank Body Lip Balms have been a recent favourite. They’re thick and hydrating, and give a flattering, lip enhancing reflect, plus feels super luxe. Cherry Bomb is an excellent wash or cool-toned red, while Send Nudes gives a flattering pale mauve shine. Both smell absolutely amazing, too.

If it’s matte you’re after, look no further than the Make Beauty Blot Pot. There’s something about this shade which is nothing short of amazing – it’s a red tone, but somehow not a red at all, and looks both natural and somehow peppy on every skin tone. Smudge a little of this over your mouth to give it a luscious, pouty look that suggests natural beauty, rather than makeup.

And I’d be loathe to write about barely there lip products without referencing the Maybelline Baby Lips. I have a bizarre affection for these chunky tubes of plastic. Something about the neon packaging, the artificial fruit scents and the perfect amount of colour they deposit has earned them a permanent place in my heart. The Cherry Me shade is particularly lovely, and has a delicious, cough-syrup scent. Maybe she’s born with it, indeed.

Shop 12 editor-approved lip balms for a barely there look

Featured images via Lano Lips

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