Guide to Matte Lipstick

Actress Emma Stone often wears bright, saturated matte colors.
Actress Emma Stone often wears bright, saturated matte colors.
Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images

As far as "sexy" goes, plump and glossy lips are a pretty sure bet. But sophisticated? Maybe not. For that, most women find they need to go with a duller finish. Often a red one. With a chic black dress.

Matte lipstick is big business right now, and not just because a matte lip is simultaneously chic and classy. Cosmetics companies are racing to introduce new formulas to capture a market in love with matte but disheartened by the big downside: a chalky, uncomfortable texture that highlights every imperfection on the surface of your lips.

It's the ratio of ingredients that determines matte vs. shine. Lipstick's main components are wax, oil and pigment. A matte lipstick, compared to a shiny one, has more wax and pigment and less oil, which makes for something opaque, deeply colored and long-wearing enough to last through a couple of meals. It also makes for a drier texture than you find in other finishes.

Even with improved formulations, most matte lipsticks remain underwhelming in the moisture category. But, as with so many other high-style, low-comfort looks, we've got ways to work around that.

There are two basic secrets to wearing matte lipstick beautifully, and the first begins before you start applying it: In matte, lip prep is not optional ...