What You Need To Know About Sandbagging

As a seasoned beauty editor, there are very few things I don't know how to do. A full '40s retro set or flat-iron beach waves? Let me break it down for you. Contoured red lips or perhaps some eye-strobing? I'll teach you both in under 10 minutes. But this summer, I found myself struggling with what should be the easiest thing in the world to master: lip gloss.

In case you haven't heard, gloss is back in a big way, and though I tried to fight the shine for months, I have to admit it's starting to look damn cool again. The new formulas are different from the ones we used in middle school, and more and more makeup artists are playing with the glistening texture in forward-thinking ways. (Think pale, icy shades, vibrant hues paired with matte skin, and matching glossy eyelids.)

Like many people, I spent my teenage years in a tight relationship with lip gloss (MAC Lipglass, to be specific), so you'd think I know what I'm doing, right? Not exactly. While the new oil-based formulas look modern and fresh, they don't stay locked in place quite like the 2000s-era ones did. Meanwhile, the highly pigmented, patent-finish lips popping up on the red carpet don't come easy — there's layering involved, and they need to be touched up more often than the matte lips I've been sporting for the past few years. Translation: Wet-look lips are back, but it's a whole new ballgame.

For some continuing education, I called in the pro: Mary Phillips, Jennifer Lopez's longtime makeup artist, who is also regularly behind the glossy lips of Khloé and Kourtney Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen, and more. Even during the matte age, Phillips never took a break from the shiny stuff, and she knows everything there is to know about the texture, the best products, and how to keep it from moving.

Ahead, she breaks down lip gloss for you — and me — because we're at the AP level now.
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Step 1: Exfoliate & Smooth

Don't let the texture fool you: Gloss isn't balm and, in most cases, it does not protect or hydrate the lips any better than any other colored lip product. So you need to prep the lips just like you would if you were using lipstick, Phillips tells me.

Luckily, this step is fast, easy, and feels great. After cleansing your skin, gently massage a scrub into dry lips — Phillips rotates between Sara Happ's The Lip Scrub, Tarte's formula, and Bite Beauty's Lip Scrub. Or, just massage lips with a soft toothbrush. [Ed. note: I use this one.]

Rinse and pat dry.

Tarte Maracuja Lip Exfoliant, $16, available at Sephora.
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Step 2: Hydrate & Plump

Now that you've buffed away the dead skin, it's time to hydrate. You have two options: Let a rich balm soak in for a few minutes or use a mask.

"I know not everyone has the time for this, but as a makeup artist, I would have to say a lot of the desired end result is merely a reflection of the prep and what happened before anything was applied," Phillips explains. "Any sort of extra-special TLC that you can give your lips makes all the difference." (We're sold.)

Phillips swears by this lip mask, which you apply for three to five minutes, then wipe off. "I was really thrown off by it at first, and then ended up loving it. It even kind of plumps your lips, too, which is great if you’re looking for that," she says.

If you go the mask route, end with a heavy coat of balm.

Kaplan MD Lip 20 Mask, $48, available at Sephora.
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Step 3: Pick Your Base — & Prime Your Pout While You're At It

Phillips suggests steering clear of dewy foundation around the mouth when wearing gloss to "avoid everything looking 'wet,' because then you just look greasy, which is only intensified with a glossy lip," she explains. "You could do a wet-looking eyelid and a lip gloss, but make sure the skin isn’t ultra-dewy."

Have your foundation ready? Great, now pat off the excess lip balm and apply it, adding just a touch of foundation over your bare lips at the end. (Really, you just want to use a tiny dot — you shouldn't feel it on your lips.)

Why? Priming your lips will make the final product last longer and provide a base for the tricks ahead.

Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation, $7.49, available at Walgreens.
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Step 4: Lay Your Groundwork

"Use a lipliner to really ensure your gloss will last," Phillips says. It creates a barrier that makes it harder for gloss to migrate, and it gives a polished dimension to the lips. There are two approaches to this, she explains.

If you're going with a light or clear shade of gloss, just outline the lip line: "You’ll get a sexy, 'pouty' lip by just outlining the lips and applying gloss — and there’s just something natural and alluring about that to me," Phillips says. "I’m envisioning this as a flesh-tone pencil and clear [or pale] gloss, and I like when people’s natural lip color shines through."

However, if you're opting for a colorful or dark gloss shade, plan to line and fill in your lips completely. "Full coverage is going to be just that. If you’re wearing a color, then do the whole lip. I mean, if you’re going for impact, you might as well go all the way, right?" Phillips says.

After this, you can skip right to the gloss — or you can add a stain or lipstick over the liner. (For example, if you want to turn your favorite matte-red glossy, swipe on the lipstick now, then finish with a clear-gloss topcoat.)

MAC Lip Pencil, $17.50, available at MAC.
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Step 5: Pick Your Potion

Now
it's time for gloss. The question is: Clear or colored?

"Whenever I think of clear gloss, my first thought is always MAC's Lipglass, which I use and still love, but I know a lot of people might feel it’s too sticky for every day," Phillips says. Next best? YSL Beauté Gloss Volupté: "I’ve used this since forever!" (Don't worry: The colorful picks are ahead.)

Apply your gloss, then remove the excess: "Sometimes, I blot with a paper towel — just something tougher than a tissue, so that nothing catches and sticks to the lips," she explains. Then, apply a second coat and repeat.

Yves Saint Laurent Gloss Volupté in Clear, $32, available at Sephora.
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Step 6: Sandbag It All In Place

Last step, guys! It's time to lock your slippery, shiny work in place by "sandbagging," if you will, outside your lip line — but we're elevating it past simply creating a powder dam.

"The loose-powder trick has been around since forever! I used to do that when I first started, but if I don’t have to add any additional powder to the face, I prefer not to — I like to let skin 'breathe' and glow as much as possible," Phillips explains.

The update? "Go outside of the lip line with a [small] brush, and just gently back up the makeup around the mouth so it looks ultra-clean," she says.

Ahead, Phillips plays favorites with glosses.

Smith Cosmetics 302 Lip Brush, $20, available at Smith Cosmetics.
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For something without the sticky feeling...

"Tom Ford's Ultra Shine Lip Glosses are super-luxurious without the ultra-sticky feeling that I think most people associate with a lip gloss," Phillips explains. "They have a rich color payoff, they're opaque, and they last, so minimal reapplication is needed. I also like that the brush applicator is compact, so application can be more precise."

Her top shade picks: Rose Crush, Naked, Peach Absolut, and Lost Cherry.

Tom Ford Ultra Shine Lip Gloss, $46, available at Tom Ford.
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For a classic look...

"I love the size of the sponge-tip applicator and the color range — they’re all staples, in my opinion, and they’re not 'trendy' shades; they’re more on the side of classics, and I like that," Phillips says. "These glosses also feel like they’re doing something nourishing to your lips; there are oils in these glosses that will make your lips feel super-hydrated."

Her top shade picks: Sheer Apricot, Sheer Plum, Nude Cream, Warm Pink Shimmer, Coral Cream, and Caramel Cream.

Kevyn Aucoin The Lip Gloss, $30, available at Nordstrom.
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For something that lasts all day...

"I recently discovered these on a shoot, and I love them," Phillips tells us. "It’s sort of like a stain meets a gloss. They’re high-shine, but comfortable and stay on all day. They’re all beautiful shades — bold but not wacky, which is a good direction to go in."

Her top shade picks: Legendary, Firecracker, Coral, and Flushed.

Smashbox
Be Legendary Long-Wear Lip Lacquer, $24, available at Smashbox.
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For something that will make your lips look plumper...

"I’ve used these since forever!" Phillips says. "They are lightweight and more sheer, almost creamy, and tend to have a little bit of shimmer in them. I really like that when it’s done well. The golden glosses have more prominent sparkle, and the texture feels a bit thicker. I’d say these last for about two hours before [you need to] reapply."

Her top shade picks: Nude Carat, Saharienne, Corail Lingot, and Rose.

Yves Saint Laurent
Gloss Volupté in Nude Carat, $32, available at Sephora.
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For a high-shine, vinyl finish...

"It looks like glass — uber-shiny and bright," Phillips says. "I can almost always tell when someone’s wearing it!"

Her top shade picks: Wild Rose, Scintillance, Sea Shell, Sweet Beige, Volupté, and Spark.

Chanel Lèvres Scintillantes Glossimer in Wild Rose, $30, available at Nordstrom.
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For the gloss skeptic...

"You can’t go wrong with NARS' lip glosses — I would consider these another staple, and I highly recommend them for someone who might describe themselves as a 'non-gloss' person," Phillips says. "They're not sticky or drying, they wear off beautifully, and the color selection is fantastic! They're pigmented, but not too pigmented."

Her top shade picks: Gold Digger, Odalisque, Tiber, Striptease, Scandal, Orgasm, and Holiday.

NARS
Larger Than Life Lip Gloss in Gold Digger, $26, available at Sephora.
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