Gloss over it
Date: 18 july 2018

That nineties staple, lip gloss, has made the mother of all comebacks. We look back at our sticky past and figure how to wear it in the present - By Parizaad Khan Sethi

Every season, for the past several years, it seems like either the 80s or the 90s are back in fashion. One fall we’re wearing big shoulders like those dramatic 80s soap opera stars, but come summer we’re prescribed grungy Kurt Cobain plaid and crop tops complete with navel piercings.

Now I don’t know if you’re taking all these diktats from the Fashion Higher Ups seriously, but from a beauty perspective you really do need to add a product to your kit, which, depending on your age, you may have had no previous exposure to—*drumroll* lip gloss.

Girls who entered teen age in the 90s were inseparable from their gloss. As inseparable, almost, as your hair is from your lips while you’re wearing lip gloss, but that’s a lament for another day. We had clear glosses, and tinted ones, frosted versions and glittery options. They smelled of a variety of headache-inducing, toxically sweet artificial fruit but we loved the gauche sophistication of one of our first beauty purchases. They came in tubes or pots; later, the introduction of the doe-foot applicator was life-changing cause that meant no more sticky fingers. Sticky lips, however, were a part of the lip gloss life.

We never ever even imagined wearing lipstick, which wasn’t marketed as the sexy product it is today. We thought of it as old and boring, meant for people who had three kids and a home loan. But when lip gloss mania reached its peak, lipstick emerged as a grown-up, sophisticated choice for a generation of girls who had never worn it. After that, the decline of lip gloss was fast and complete, for over a decade. For the past several years running, our kits have been deglossified.
Imagine our surprise when we now find ourselves reaching for those sticks of light-reflecting goop. After all the heaviness of matt lipsticks, gloss is a welcome change, a lighter way of looking at life and beauty, and part of the worldwide move towards a more minimal beauty aesthetic.
Somehow, gloss is so old that it feels new and fresh again. Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Gloss is our go-to tube, Shiseido Lacquer Gloss gives a hefty colour payoff, while there’s crazy shine and light-reflecting pearls in M.A.C Dazzleglass Lipgloss. Smashbox O-Gloss Intuitive Lip Gloss changes colour according to your skin’s chemistry, while M.A.C Versicolour Stain Lip Gloss ensures the colour stays on long after the gloss has faded.
We’d be B.S-ing if we tried to give you advice on how to use gloss. Grab a tube and just slap it on. We like to tap a glittery version like Bobbi Brown High Shimmer Lip Gloss over a matching or contrasting shade of lipstick for a bit of dimension. And since we’re limited edition collectors, we’re saving the latest addition to the Woo family, M.A.C Lipglass Patrickstarrr - Patrick Woo, for posterity.
This return to the gloss life is making us feel young and old at the same time, like no other beauty product quite can. We’re building ourselves up to embrace *shudder* scrunchies next.
Gloss over it
Parizaad Khan Sethi

is a beauty and wellness editor based in New York. She was the former beauty editor at Vogue India and now serves as a contributing editor for the magazine. At age 5, Parizaad fell in love with an old cream blush she found in the back of her mother’s drawer, and has been in awe of the transformative power of beauty ever since. When she’s not writing about beauty, she researches advances in skincare as a hobby, and is constantly guinea-pigging herself in the name of beauty.