I Put in the Hard Work to Find the (Mostly Clean) Perfect Fall Berry Lip Shade

A berry shade fits the bill for being both classy and seasonable.

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A friend recently called me out for having spent hundreds of dollars on lip products in the month of August for this roundup.

“No one is wearing lipsticks, Leslie, we’re all wearing masks,” she said, probably rightfully so.

Honestly, it hadn’t crossed my mind that most people have probably been reducing their lip-slathering—and not because I haven’t been wearing a mask in public. (Wear a damn mask people!)

It’s because lipsticks serve a couple of important functions for me beyond moisturizing and accentuating my kissers.

First, most people who know me will know that I have an almost compulsive habit of applying lip products, sometimes with multiple applications in a span of minutes. It’s a self-soothing mechanism for me, and I always need a lip product on deck.

Second, speaking of the times we are living in, many of us are spending more time at home and experiencing the thinning veil between work and home life. Lipstick has become the ultimate boundary reinforcer for me. A bold lip means I’m working. Bare lips mean I’m off duty.

To that last point, I have been on the hunt for lip shades that feel more adult. (Left to my own devices, I’m usually drawn to barely wearable pinks and oranges.) As we head into fall, I felt a berry shade fit the bill for being both seasonable and respectable.

To me, a lip product is perfect if it’s non-toxic, feels comfortable on the lips, is moisturizing, and has a bold color that starts out sheer but is buildable (bonus points for SPF, we have the technology people!)

So I tried six clean-ish lip products (some lipsticks, some balms, some glosses and an…oil?) in the past couple months to find the perfect berry lip. See how they performed below.

COOLA Mineral Liplux Organic Tinted Lip Balm Sunscreen SPF 30 in Purple Sky – $18

This ended up being my least favorite, partly due to user error. The shade is less berry and more violet (color: 1). It’s has a funky crayon smell, and feels chalky going on (comfort: 1). It’s pretty buildable, which I’m grateful for as I keep it sheer since I don’t love the color (buildable: 3). The ingredients are organic (clean: 5) and it has SPF so it get a bonus point (+1). I’ve been wearing this almost exclusively to the beach.

COOLA’s Liplux Balm in Purple Sky is at the bottom of my list at 11/20.

Glossier Generation G in Jam – $18

This lipstick was the most recommended product when I put out the call on social media for a sheer berry lip. The name of the shade, Jam, is spot on—the color is truly the juicy berry medley I was going for (5). The sheer matte, ‘I-just-ate-a-popsicle’ formula feels very of-the-time, as is Glossier’s shtick (5). However, the formula loses points for being very dry (1) and containing less clean ingredients (1).

Glossier Generation G in Jam has all the color and buildability I wanted in a very dry package, 12/20.  

Ilia Color Block Lipstick in Wild Aster – $28

Perhaps as the name implies, there is nothing sheer or buildable about Ilia’s Color Block line of lipsticks—these beauties are for impact (3). Still, the formula manages to feel fairly comfortable (4). The shade Wild Aster skews a bit more raspberry (fittingly, raspberry seed oil is one of the ingredients) compared to Glossier Jam’s berry medley (4). Finally, Ilia is the powerhouse of the clean beauty industry—we know the ingredients are safe but I’d like to see a few more organic ingredients in this product (4).

Not exactly what I was looking for in terms of buildability and day wear, but this color is perfect for a romantic dinner or any time you want to make a bolder statement. Ilia Color Block Lipstick in Wild Aster comes in at a respectable 15/20.

Ilia Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil in Linger – $26

When I first saw the name for Ilia’s newest lip product I had to laugh—is it a balm? A gloss? An oil? It seemed like the latest development in a spate of lip glosses that try to do too much and above all, denounce stickiness.

After trying the balm/gloss/oil, I have to say this is truly an innovative product. It feels slick like an oil (in a good way?), yet nourishing and extremely comfortable on the lips like a balm (5). It fully enables my compulsive lip balm habit without drying out my lips. It somehow maintains a glossy effect that doesn’t stick. Still, it’s a gloss, so the color isn’t exactly buildable (3). Again, the ingredients are great (4). The color is a nice cooled-toned berry mauve (4).

This glossy oil is the balm. Ilia Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil in Linger gets 16/20.

Applying LAWLESS Lip Shine Lip Gloss in Sexpot by  Caroline the Photographer .
Applying LAWLESS Lip Shine Lip Gloss in Sexpot by Caroline the Photographer.

LAWLESS Lip Shine Lip Gloss in Sexpot – $25

Unlike Ilia’s Balmy Gloss, Lawless’s offering is a lip gloss in the truest sense of the word. It’s glossy, it’s creamy, it’s pigmented—I kind of want to drink it? Not that I would but I did, I wouldn’t be too concerned because LAWLESS has some of the best ingredients in the clean beauty game (4).

This formula is THICK and nourishing, like a berry smoothie (4). LAWLESS describes the shade Sexpot, as a “plummy rose,” and it is true to its name (5). Also, as it dries down it leaves a slight pigment to the lips that says, “I just ate a popsicle in a sexy way, sorry you missed it.” Again, this a gloss so it doesn’t really build but the color delivers (3).

LAWLESS Lip Shine Lip Gloss in Sexpot ties Ilia’s Balmy Gloss at 16/20.

Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner in Arabian Knights – $28

This one checked all of my boxes. Ilia’s Tinted Lip Conditioner offers a lot of the color in a nourishing package that feels great on the lips (5). This one can be reapplied all day. It’s pretty sheer at first blush, but very buildable (5). The shade Arabian Knights leans a little more red than the others, but is still well within the berry family (4).

The Tinted Lip Conditioner has a high percentage of organic ingredients (5). Titanium dioxide is listed as one of the ingredients, so it may even have some sun protection. Still, there is no SPF listed so I wouldn’t rely on it.

Ilia’s Tinted Lip Conditioner wins out at 19/20.

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I created PunkMed to write about my passions—health, sustainability, and the outdoors.


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