Sheer lipstick is a cosmetic for the lips that is made with very little tint. In terms of packaging, it may look very similar to other deeply tinted lipsticks, but it delivers a very different visual effect. A opaque red lipstick, for example, will completely conceal the natural color of the lips and cover them in a red on par with the color of a ripe cherry or paprika, depending on the hue. A sheer lipstick in red, on the other hand, will simply deliver a red tone and a bit of shine to the natural color of the lips.
One of the reasons that people use sheer lipstick is to create an understated look with their makeup. While deep, concentrated lipstick colors are often appropriate for evening events, many women do not feel comfortable wearing such colors during the day. Therefore, sheer lipstick can be used during the day and be switched out for more concentrated hues around cocktail hour.
This kind of lighter lipstick is also often used by women who are trying to create a more natural look with their makeup. When coupled with other similar cosmetics, sheer lipstick can give a woman a finished, pulled-together look while not making it immediately apparent that she is wearing makeup. Similar cosmetics include sheer facial powder and sheer blush, lightly tinted eyeshadow, clear mascara, and eye pencil that closely matches the natural color of the wearer's eyebrows.
Depending on the formulation of the cosmetic, sheer lipsticks can deliver a high gloss, a matte finish, and everything in between. Choosing a level of gloss in a lipstick is entirely up to aesthetics of the wearer. Many professionals in the cosmetics industry advise that women with thinner lips should wear lipstick, sheer or otherwise, with a higher level of gloss to make their lips look a bit bigger. Women with larger lips, on the other hand, should use lip cosmetics with more of a matte finish so that the lips don't seem to take up the entire face.
Choosing the best sheer lipstick requires considering the colors that best complement one's skin tone, eye color, and hair color. The level of gloss in a lipstick is also an important factor, as noted above. Try out a few different kinds of sheer lipstick by browsing at local beauty counters or cosmetics stores. In addition to testing different colors, the sales people should be able to provide some helpful assistance and direction.