Queridas Amigas,

Let’s talk about lipstick finishes… you know, matte vs. satin vs. gloss. Not only do we need to know how to choose the best finish based on look and product performance, there’s also so many ways lip color is packaged. Here’s what you need to know.

Depending on who you ask, there are anywhere from three to seven lipstick or lip color finishes. In my opinion, some of these finishes are so similar, I will combine some of them into one category.


As the name(s) suggest, this finish is semi-transparent, low pigment, and gives lips a soft to super-shiny look. Sheer and gloss lip colors most typically come in a tube with a wand applicator. Use this type of product when you’re looking for either a very natural effect, or...consider layering a gloss over a richer pigmented product for a super-glam vibe. Shinier finishes tend to catch the light and draw attention to the lips. They do tend to need re-application more often, as they are not typically highly pigmented. Here’s a great go-to neutral shade.


This finish is among the most purchased, most versatile and widely used. Satin and cream lipsticks most often come in classic lipstick form, but can also come in pots or in tubes with wand applicators. The finish they provide is also indicative of their names; they provide a creamy, soft finish with a subtle shine. Satins and creams tend to wear nicely and as an added bonus, many hydrate the lips as well. This is a great choice for everyday use and available in any shade imaginable. Here's a favorite of mine that compliments my warm, Latina skin tone. Need to know your skin tone? Take my quiz here.



This is by far my personal favorite lipstick finish. Matte lipsticks are long wearing because they tend to be more heavily pigmented. And, unlike the previous finishes, matte lipsticks provide no shine at all. They are all about the color. They most often come in classic lipstick form and they are a great everyday and evening choice for those who want no shine and long wear. I look forward to introducing you to my new PerlaRose matte lipstick line, launching later this summer. Until then, here’s (Red Fire), one of my favorites that’s also super flattering on my skin.

Matte Lipstick


Metallic and frost finish lip colors are really interesting. They provide a finish that’s not shiny, but more shimmery, like a great highlighter does for your features. Metallics and frosts are definitely attention grabbing and can come in many different forms, from classic lipstick, to wand applicators, and creams. Here’s a favorite of mine in a shade that’s perfect for my warm Latina skin tone. Need to know your skin tone? Check out my quiz here. I play with this lip product on occasion when I’m going out for the evening. Metallics and frosts can be long wearing but some can clump or flake after a while, so they sometimes need to be wiped off completely and reapplied.

Metallic/Frost Lipsticks


And finally, there is lip stain. Lip stain is a super-saturated, highly-pigmented product that is intended to do exactly what it says; stain your lips. Stains come in many forms, including oils, wand applicators, pots, and the most interesting… peel off lip masks. Yep. Stains will mostly provide a subtle creamy or matte finish, but can be glossed over for a shinier or wetter look. Stains also tend to be very long-lasting. They are kind of like a temporary tattoo, so make sure you really like the color before you apply. Here’s a fun example of a 2-step peel-off option.

Lip Stains

I hope this 101 on lipstick finishes and performance has been helpful. Please let me know if you’ve got any of your own favorites, or you have suggestions for future posts.

 Hasta la proxima,


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