We Tried the $3 Lip Gloss That's Taking the Internet by Storm—Did It Pass Our Test?

I was just about to shut my eyes for the evening a couple weeks ago, when a late-night push notification popped up on my phone, about a $3 lip gloss making waves on Reddit.

Touted by user Min_yoongi_genius as "the best (and cheapest) lip gloss in the entire world," it only made sense that the next day, I made a dash for the nearest Ulta to swoop up my very own tube of Essence cosmetics' Shine Shine Shine lipgloss in a totally clear shade called Behind the Scenes 01.

Teen girl putting on lipstick in front of a mirror

(via Shutterstock)

The Product

With basic packaging and simple font, it's clear that there was no money lost on presentation. But hey, at $2.99, I wasn't signing up for Sugarpill-level efforts.


Clearly I'm not the only one who reads the internet (or follows beauty trends) because I went to not one, but two Ulta locations (one of which being the monstrous location in West Hollywood), only to find the clear gloss was sold out.

In fact, at the West Hollywood store, one of the salespeople  told me that, earlier in the day, she was restocking the shelves with the clear gloss and someone said "I'll take all of them!"

Okay, so now I really needed to try this product.

The Experience

When I finally came to the conclusion that I'd need to purchase this bad boy online (I'm actually surprised they are readily available on the web), I decided to buy a couple of the brand's other products from Ulta in the meantime.

Not gonna lie, my initial reaction was ew, cheap, gross. The colors on display weren't to my liking. They were like really bright shades of pink. Don't get me wrong—to know me is to know I love a bright or bold lip, but these shades just weren't doing it for me. That said, I bought one just to get a sense of its staying power, and sure enough, it stayed on pretty strong through a dining experience that involved a burger.

While at Ulta, I also swooped up a few lip liners. If there's one makeup item I never have enough of, it's lip liner. The shades available were beautiful, rich pinks and burgundies—just what I needed. And, at $2.49 a pop, why not, right? Well… I was blown away by the liners. I'm not going to call out specific makeup brands in the same price range, but I'll just say this: Essence liners beat out the competition (in their price range and otherwise).

In fact, I enjoyed using them in place of lipstick altogether. The consistency is smooth and and long lasting, and the shades are vibrant.

On my hunt, I also discovered Essence sells matte glosses, which is something I'd never heard of prior! I actually really like the matte gloss colors they had at the store, and I swooped a few up (out of plain curiosity more than anything else). So, for the last week, I've been wearing various Essence liner shades fully on my lips, topped off one of their Matt Matt Matt Longlasting Lipglosses.


Okay, now back to the real reason I'm writing this post in the first place: The clear lip gloss arrived in the mail! And, I'll tell ya, it goes on smooth, stays on long and doesn't feel overbearing on my lips. I used to wear lipgloss more than a decade ago, and, looking back, I'm not really sure why. The products were super gooey and rubbed off easily.

Fast forward to now, and Essence gloss really is pretty awesome—if standard gloss is what I'm going for. In my personal opinion, I much prefer a matte look on my lips. But if a simple swipe of shine is what you crave, then yes, this is the gloss to use.


Bottom Line

What began as a simple test turned into the discovery of my new favorite lip liner. I'm still not really big on lip gloss, but in the off chance that I choose to wear it, I now know exactly what to wear. I also learned not to judge a book by its cover. Essence doesn't have the chicest packaging, but because of that, they are likely able to put more money into the quality of their products—and, at the end of the day, that's what's most important.

There are times when I don't want to schlep my expensive products with me from handbag to handbag or risk losing them. That's where Essence products come in handy. I keep a few stashed in all of my bags, and if I happen to lose one, the worst thing I have to deal with is the hassle of a return trip to Ulta.


When you apply your makeup, do you have trouble staying between the lines? If so, check out our review of THIS product that helps you erase errors on your face!