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What is Metallic Lipstick?

By Mandi R. Hall
Updated May 21, 2024
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Metallic lipstick is a shiny cosmetic product applied to the lips. Like other lipstick, metallic lipstick is meant to enhance or completely change one’s lip color. It comes in many colors from delicate cream or pink to harsh charcoal, but most metallic lipsticks are sold as such due to their silvery pearlescent finish or luster. Dubbed metallic lip color due to its tinny or chrome-like look, this type of lipstick ranges from subtle to extreme. Whether nude or harsh in color, such lipsticks have pigments or emollients in them, and occasionally tiny flecks of metal that give of the metallic sheen.

Consumers should be aware that occasionally these types of lipstick appear to be very metallic in the tube, while only slightly shimmery on the lips. When shopping for metallic lipstick, it’s best to try it out in the store before purchasing. Customers should rub some on a cotton swab and apply it to the lips, checking its appearance in various lights at the makeup counter and beside a window. Fluorescent lights can make the metallic shine in a different way than natural sunlight would. If one only plans to wear the lipstick to a dark bar, of course, the natural sunlight wouldn’t be a very good judge.

Wearing metallic lipstick has been an underground trend since approximately the 1980s, becoming popular again every couple of years. Known as a heavier style of makeup, this type of lipstick is often paired with smoky or brightly colored eye shadows, thick black eyeliner, and caked-on foundation or powder for the appearance of smooth skin. Paired with neon or black, metallic lip colors can either match or offset an outfit choice.

Often associated with the culture of ravers and teenyboppers, one group of people that set off the trend of metallic lipstick in the early 21st century is the “ganguros.” The term ganguro signifies the trendy culture of tan and bleached-blonde Japanese women who wore bright makeup including metallic lipstick. Although this type of lip product is often associated with such wearers, women don’t need a reason to wear it — light pastel metallic lipsticks are popular choices for both day and evening cosmetics.

Although metallic lip products come in many forms, including tubes, mini jars, liquid glosses, or roller ball applicators, metallic lipstick is generally approximately finger-size and comes in a tube that can be rotated to reveal the fresh lipstick. Although it can have moisturizing properties similar to that of a medicated lip balm, not all metallic lipsticks do. While such lipsticks may be sold by pricey cosmetic companies or inexpensive drug store brands, these lip products can rub or wear off with time, much like any other lip product.

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