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Lipstick vs. Lip Lacquer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 26, 2023
Lipstick is a colored cosmetic applied to the lips, usually in stick form, while lip lacquer is a liquid lip product that provides high shine and can be more long-lasting.

Key Differences

Lipstick and lip lacquer are both popular lip products, but they differ in form and finish. Lipstick, traditionally, comes in a solid stick format and is known for its creamy or matte textures. It's a go-to for many who desire pigmented color with varying degrees of opacity. In contrast, lip lacquer is typically a liquid lip product that can offer a shiny or glossy finish, often resembling the sheen of a lacquer on furniture.
When considering application, lipstick is typically straightforward and can be applied directly from the tube or with a lip brush for precision. Lip lacquer, being liquid, often comes with an applicator wand, ensuring the product is spread evenly and with control. The applicator can make a significant difference in the final look, especially when trying to achieve a specific effect or intensity.
Durability can also vary between lipstick and lip lacquer. While some lipsticks are formulated to last for hours, many will transfer or fade with eating, drinking, or even talking. Lip lacquers, particularly those formulated as long-wearing, may have a staying power that exceeds that of a traditional lipstick, often resisting transfer and maintaining their shine.
In terms of comfort and feel, lipstick often provides a lightweight and comfortable wear, depending on its formula. Matte lipsticks might feel drier, while creamier ones provide hydration. On the other hand, lip lacquers, especially those that are long-wearing, can sometimes feel tacky or sticky on the lips, but they compensate with their lustrous appearance and longevity.
Aesthetically, the choice between lipstick and lip lacquer often depends on the desired finish. If one is looking for a matte, satin, or semi-matte finish, lipsticks offer a broad range. However, for those aiming for a high-shine, glossy, or patent-leather effect, lip lacquers are the ideal choice.

Comparison Chart


Solid (stick)


Matte, creamy, satin
Glossy, high-shine


Directly from tube or with lip brush
Applicator wand


Can transfer/fade; varies by formula
Often long-lasting and resistant to transfer


Lightweight; feel varies by formula
Can be tacky or sticky, especially if long-wearing

Lipstick and Lip Lacquer Definitions


A waxy substance that imparts color when applied to the lips.
The lipstick glided smoothly across her lips.

Lip Lacquer

A viscous cosmetic for the lips often applied with a wand.
She carefully applied the lip lacquer, ensuring even coverage.


A cosmetic product for coloring the lips, typically in stick form.
She chose a bold red lipstick for the evening.

Lip Lacquer

A lip product with a lacquer-like finish for high shine.
For the photoshoot, she chose a pink lip lacquer.


A means of enhancing or changing lip color with a solid product.
With just a swipe of lipstick, her look was transformed.

Lip Lacquer

A lip cosmetic known for its intense luster.
She loved how the lip lacquer made her lips pop.


A pigmented product for the lips encased in a cylindrical tube.
Her lipstick collection was vast and varied.

Lip Lacquer

A liquid cosmetic product providing a glossy finish to the lips.
Her lip lacquer gave her lips a mirror-like shine.


A lip cosmetic with a matte or creamy finish.
She preferred lipstick over gloss for its classic look.

Lip Lacquer

A shiny, often long-wearing, lip product.
The lip lacquer stayed put throughout the meal.


A small stick of waxy lip coloring enclosed in a cylindrical case.


What finish does lip lacquer typically have?

Lip lacquer often provides a glossy or high-shine finish.

Can lipsticks be hydrating?

Yes, many lipsticks, especially creamy ones, offer hydrating properties.

Is lipstick always in a solid form?

Traditionally, yes, lipstick is in a solid stick form, but there are liquid versions too.

How often should I reapply lip lacquer?

It varies by formula, but long-wearing lip lacquers may not require frequent reapplication.

Can lipstick ingredients nourish the lips?

Yes, some lipsticks contain ingredients like vitamin E, oils, and butters that can be nourishing.

Can lip lacquer feel sticky?

Some lip lacquers, especially long-wearing ones, can feel tacky or sticky on the lips.

Is lip lacquer more durable than lipstick?

Often, lip lacquers, especially long-wearing ones, can be more durable than traditional lipsticks.

How is lip lacquer applied?

Lip lacquer is usually applied with an applicator wand.

How should I store my lipstick?

It's best to store lipstick in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.

Does lipstick come in various colors?

Yes, lipstick comes in a wide range of colors from nudes to bolds.

Is lipstick transfer-proof?

Not all lipsticks are transfer-proof, but some are formulated to be long-lasting and resist transfer.

Does lip lacquer come in matte finishes?

While lip lacquers are known for their shine, some products labeled as "matte lip lacquers" provide a matte finish with the longevity of a lacquer.

Is lip lacquer suitable for all ages?

Absolutely, people of all ages can wear lip lacquer, depending on personal preference.

Do lipsticks have SPF?

Some lipsticks offer SPF for sun protection, but not all.

Do I need a separate brush to apply lipstick?

Not always; lipstick can be applied directly from the tube, but a brush can offer precision.

Is lip lacquer the same as lip gloss?

They're similar, but lip lacquers often provide more intense color and shine than typical glosses.

Are lip lacquers always shiny?

Most lip lacquers are known for their shine, but there might be variations with less shine.

Are there matte lipsticks?

Yes, there are lipsticks with matte, semi-matte, and creamy finishes.

Can lipstick be used as a blush?

Some people use creamy lipsticks as blush for a coordinated look, but it's essential to blend well.

Can lip lacquer be layered over lipstick?

Yes, many people layer lip lacquer over lipstick for added shine and depth of color.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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