November 29, 2022

A woman in bright red lipstick, her head turned slightly to her right

There’s arguably no makeup product that has more of a transformative impact than lipstick. One swipe can singlehandedly change your entire look—heck, sometimes even your entire mood. And while lipstick application is admittedly more straightforward than something like, say, contouring, there are a few simple things that can help you ensure your lipstick looks flawless.

We asked makeup artists Todd Harris, Jenny Patinkin, and Bryan Cantor to share their best lipstick tips. Read on for what they had to say.

 

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Use a Clear Liner to Prevent Feathering

Sephora
Sephora Collection Beauty Amplifier Universal Lip Liner $10.00

Feathering color (AKA bleeding color AKA, lipstick that gets smudged outside the borders of your lips) is one of the most frustrating things about wearing lipstick. Fortunately, preventing this is super easy. “A clear, waxy lip pencil is a no-brainer way to stop your lipstick from feathering,” says Patinkin. “Just [use it to] line all the way around your lips, slightly onto your skin. It creates a barrier so that the pigments can’t absorb into any little creases.” (FYI, do this before you apply lipstick.)

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Layer Coats of Color

To up the staying power of your lipstick, Harris suggests layering on a few coats. “Apply a thin layer, then rub your lips together and blot them with a tissue before adding another coat of color on top,” he says. This creates a stain-like effect on the lips so that once the top layer comes off you still have a hint of color underneath, he explains.

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Up the Staying Power With Powder

You can also increase the longevity of your lippie and ward off feathering with powder. Yes, powder. According to Patinkin, it’s an old-school red carpet makeup trick. Pre-lipstick lay a tissue over your lips and lightly dust powder over them with a fluffy brush. This helps absorb oils around your mouth, in turn helping to prevent feathering without making lips look cakey or dry. It also helps the color last longer and wear better, too, she explains.

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Make Sure There’s No Lipstick on Your Teeth

We’ve all been there: You’re feeling super confident about the bold lip color you’re rocking… only to look in the mirror and realize it’s been smudged all over your teeth the whole time. Luckily, there’s an easy way to make sure this doesn’t happen. Apply your lipstick as usual, then immediately insert your index finger into your mouth, close your lips around it, and remove it. “The friction of your lips against your finger will wipe away any excess lipstick on the interior of your lips that could otherwise find its way onto your teeth,” explains Cantor.

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Keep Lines Crisp With a Brush

Sigma Beauty
Sigma Beauty E06 Winger Liner Brush $15.00

Clean, crisp edges are a must, especially if you’re sporting a bright shade of lipstick. If the border of your lips looks smudgy, try Cantor’s go-to trick. Dip a (clean) angled brow or eyeliner brush into micellar water or rub it on a makeup wipe, then slowly trace the edge of your lips to “erase” any imperfections, he says.

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Exfoliate Lips First…

Nothing ruins the look of lipstick quite like patches of flaky skin, so pre-lippie exfoliation is a must. Don’t have a lip scrub handy? “Gently brush your lips with a soft toothbrush to remove any dead skin,” says Cantor. “This will help your lipstick go on more smoothly.”

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…Then Make Sure to Moisturize Them

Kiehls
Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 $10.00

Just like you’d apply lotion after exfoliating your face or body, so too should you moisturize your lips post-sloughing (and before applying color). “When your lips are dry they aren’t as pliable, so every time you move your mouth all the little vertical lines contract and expand, drawing product into them,” Patinkin points out. In other words, “moisturizing your lips properly will help the overall finish of your lipstick,” Harris adds.

Here’s the thing, though: Not all lip balms are created equal. Formulas that are too waxy are less moisturizing and create a protective barrier on the lips that can actually prevent lipstick from staying on well, says Harris. Look for a lighter-weight formula, instead. (Top tip: ones in squeeze tubes tend to be less waxy than twist-ups or those in pots.) Ideally, let it sit on the lips for at least 10 minutes to really do its thing, then blot away any excess with a tissue before you go in with color, Harris says.