Master the "no-lipstick lipstick" look with these top tips & product recommendations 


Certain make-up trends come and go (skinny brows, anyone?), while others stick around. An example of the latter is the "no-make-up make-up" look. Gaining popularity in the 90s, barely-there, minimalist make-up is back in business and this time, it spans everything from our base to our eyeshadow and even our lipstick. 


"Known as 'your lips but better', the idea is to create as natural a finish as possible so that to onlookers, it doesn’t look like you’re wearing any lipstick at all," says Joy Adenuga, pro make-up artist and No7 ambassador. "Think a lived-in lipstick finish that looks like a subtle stain and celebrates your natural lip colour," adds Valeria Ferreira, celebrity make-up artist. 


To Aimee Connolly, renowned make-up artist and founder of Sculpted by Aimee, "a 'no-lipstick lipstick' look suggests that the lips aren’t dressed in lipstick – instead, they’ve been shaped or sculpted using other products like a lip liner and lip balm." 


Here, the experts break down how to master that "no-lipstick lipstick" look with top tips and product recommendations for all skin tones.


How to prep the lips for a "no-lipstick lipstick" look 


Step one, exfoliate. "I love exfoliating the lips first," says Valeria. "It boosts blood flow to the lips, so they instantly get a rosy flush of colour." In terms of product, the experts recommend using a gentle lip scrub to remove dead skin build-up. 


"Following this, I’d recommend applying a nourishing and hydrating product – like a lip balm," says Aimee. Let the balm sink in and, before you apply your next product, "blot away any excess shine," adds Valeria.

Try: Fenty Beauty By Rihanna Pro Kiss'r Lip-Loving Scrubstick, £18


• Size: 3g


Swipe this stick, containing apricot seed scrubbers, back and forth over lips before wiping off to reveal a smoother, softer pout.

Try: Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Lip Balm, £6


• Size: 10ml

• Fragrance-free


In need of an SOS treatment? Reach for this intensive lip balm containing a calming cocktail of ingredients to help soothe, hydrate and soften.

What textures work best for a "no-lipstick lipstick" look? 


"Go for either liquid or matte lipsticks, tints or balms with colour," says Valeria. Joy agrees and recommends "matte textures and tinted lipsticks – they’re the best formulations for giving that 'your lips but better' finish." 


To apply, Valeria recommends using fingertips. "The warmth from your fingertips melts the product into the lips, diffusing the colour to give you that super natural and effortless finish – no matter what shade you use," she says. 


How to find the right "no-lipstick lipstick" shade for you


"You won’t know if it’s the right shade until you try it on," says Aimee. "So, if that’s an option, I’d always suggest swatching the product first." When searching for shades, Aimee recommends considering your skin tone, your eye colour and your own natural lip pigment – as these three factors will determine the end result. 


Below, the experts share their go-to "your lips but better" products for all skin tones. 


"Your lips but better" products for dark skin 


"Berry tinted lip products look great with darker skin tones," says Valeria. Her go-to? YSL Nu Lip & Cheek Balmy Tint in Chills (02), £20, which provides a subtle contrast.


"Sometimes, lips can be very dark on the edge and pale on the inside – like a natural ombré effect. Celebrate this and find a pale tone for the centre of the mouth that looks natural and will blend into the outline of the mouth," says Valeria, who recommends a richly pigmented matte finish lipstick for this. M·A·C, L'Oréal Paris and NYX Professional Makeup serve up a great range of shades to choose from.

Try: YSL Nu Lip & Cheek Balmy Tint in Chills (02), £20


• Size: 15ml

• Available in three shades


Not only is this creamy tinted balm super nourishing with hydrating shea butter, but it also lends lips a healthy flush of berry colour. Shade Chills is super flattering for dark skin.

Try: Fenty Beauty Sheer Shiny Lipstick in Cookies & Cocoa or Vamps Who Brunch, £20


• Size: 2.8g

• Available in 10 shades

• Cruelty-free


Joy recommends this sheer lipstick that locks in moisture while delivering a tint of juicy colour. Cookies & Cocoa or Vamps Who Brunch both work well on dark skin tones.

Try: NYX Professional Makeup Suede Matte Lipstick, £8


• Size: 3.5g

• Available in 12 shades


Super soft and lightweight, choose one of the paler shades from its roster of colours to dab into the centre of your lips and enhance a natural ombré effect.

‘Your lips but better’ products for olive skin 


"Peachy pinks and blush shades work really well on olive skin tones," says Aimee. Speaking from experience, Valeria agrees. She uses shades that have a hint of pink in them, which work well with her lips’ warm undertones. 


According to Joy, creating a bit of variation is key for all skin tones and says, "A slight contrast in shade is advisable, as sometimes when you choose a shade that’s identical to your skin tone it can make the finish look a bit flat."

Try: Sculpted By Aimee Connolly Lip Duo in Tan Twin, £17


• Size: 4.5g

• Available in seven shades


This nifty product comes with a pencil on one end to define and a lipstick on the other to fill in. Aimee recommends shade Tan Twin for olive skin tones.

Try: Sleek MakeUp Matte Me XXL Liquid Lipstick in Birthday Suit, £6.49


• Size: 5ml
• Available in 8 shades


Your make-up bag has met its match with this long-lasting matte finish lipstick that delivers high impact colour in just one swipe. Shade Birthday Suit and olive skin are the perfect pairing.

Try: Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Colour in Blondie Pink, £26


• Size: 3.4g

• Available in 15 shades


With the pigment of a lipstick and the texture of a balm, this lip-loving formula is perfect for that natural make-up look.

"Your lips but better" products for fair skin 


"For pale skin, I love to see shades that have more of a rosy or red undertone, like the Sculpted By Aimee Lip Duo in Pink Pair," says Aimee. Top tip? Seek out lip products with cool undertones that will complement fair skin (that tend to be neutral or cooler) – like taupe, beige and soft pinks.  

Try: Sculpted By Aimee Connolly Lip Duo in Pink Pair, £17 


• Size: 4.5g

• Available in seven shades


Define and sculpt the lips with the pencil before swiping on the creamy lipstick in shade Pink Pair, as recommended by Aimee.

Try: No7 Moisture Drench Lipstick in Desert Rose, £9.95 


• Size: 3.8g

• Available in 20 shades


A top pick of Joy’s for a reason and says, "It gives you a soft flush of luminous colour." Desert Rose is the perfect choice for pale skin tones.

Try: YSL Rouge Tatouage Couture Velvet Cream Lipstick in Beige Underground, £31


• Size: 6ml

• Available in 12 shades


If you’re after a long-wearing formula that doesn’t require touch-ups, try this matte liquid lipstick. Beige Underground flatters fair skin tones beautifully.

All prices correct on date of publication