May 30, 2023

The number of things you can do with lipstick—much like our love for the stuff—is endless. Throughout our long relationship with the makeup-bag staple, we’ve picked up a few tricks along the way. There’s so much to consider. What do you do if your lipstick feels drying? If it breaks? If it’s about to run out but you want to use every last bit of it? Instead of spending money to buy another one, there are so many hacks out there—all it takes is a little creativity and patience. Whether it’s using other beauty products in your arsenal or picking up a household item to get the job done, we’ve got you covered with the best lipstick hacks that have saved us from makeup misery.

Save Your Lost-Cause Lipstick

contact case
Flip Top Contact Lens Cases $8.00

Hold onto your old contact lens case. It’ll come in handy if your favorite lipstick gets crushed or melted. Just scoop out what’s left and store it in this portable case. Not a contacts wearer? Pick up a small pillbox at the drugstore.

Warm Up Your Lip Liner

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil $21.00

Always use a sharp pencil when applying lip liner, but warm it between your index finger and thumb for a few seconds first. Softening the pencil just a tad ensures a smooth application—no tugging or jumping.

Make It Matte

Clinique Blushing Blush Powder Blush $25.00

Found a color you love but wish it were matte? You can fix that with a powder blush. Find a (shimmer-free) product that’s close to your lipstick color, press it into your lips with your finger, and voilà—matte lip color.

Boost Your Natural Pout

lip gloss
Boots No7 Stay Perfect Lipstick $13.00

For the “your lips but better” look—also known as the “I just ate a popsicle” effect—make a kissy face and dab your lipstick onto the center of your lips (your finger works well here). You’ll get just a kiss of color right where you want it. Bright, poppy shades like the above are best for this.

Make a DIY Lip Scrub

Wenettion 50 Disposable Eyelash Brushes Wands Mascara Applicator $6.00

Exfoliation is mandatory; pricey lip scrubs are not. You can make your own with a little bit of sugar and anything gooey—honey, lip balm, face serum, any kind of oil. Or use a soft toothbrush or clean spoolie to gently buff away flakes. Once they’re smooth, don’t forget to keep them hydrated.

Use Lip Balm in Moderation

Lip Balm: Antioxidant+3 Complex
Grown Alchemist Lip Balm: Antioxidant+3 Complex $29.00

First, a quick biology lesson. “Lip tissue differs from skin tissue on other parts of the body in that it not only has fewer cell layers of thickness but also has reduced total fats and oils and especially a deficiency of cholesterol,” dermatologist Carl Thornfeldt, MD, says. “Thus its protective barrier properties are easily compromised.” Which explains why lips get dry and chapped, causing you to seek relief in the form of lip balm.

Thornfeldt says most products help initially, but over time, they allow waxes, skin cells, bacteria, and yeast to build up—all of which the lip tissue tries to get rid of during the cell turnover process. And when it’s not able to slough off this buildup, the skin reacts negatively. So you end up feeling the need to apply more lip balm.

“It’s not that the lip balm itself is ‘addictive,’” Thornfeldt says, “Rather, the lips are trying to get rid of the waxes, bacteria, yeast, and other buildup left on the skin; the person in turn is trying to stop the uncomfortable feeling, and thus applies more lip balm to get back to the state of smooth, soft lips. This is only temporary, of course, and the cycle continues.”

Define Your Cupid’s Bow

lip liner
Flower Beauty Line & Shine Lip Liner $6.00

Yes, you can achieve the perfect Cupid’s bow. Just make an X. Using a lip pencil, draw a diagonal line that extends down from the highest point of your top lip. Do the same thing to the other side of your lip, and continue your lip-lining as usual. Your pout will be impeccably defined.

Create a Blank Slate

W3ll People Narcissist Foundation Stick $29.00

When your nudes aren’t showing up nude, it’s time to neutralize. Tone down naturally pigmented lips by applying a light layer of foundation before your lipstick. You don’t need a lot, but this step ensures your lip color will look exactly how it should on your lips. Just skip mattifying foundation formulas. Stick foundations make this a breeze.

Layer to Make It Last

Ultra HD Microfinishing Loose Powder
Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder $36.00

Apply, blot, dust, apply—four steps to turn your average lip color application into a long-wearing wonder. Apply your lipstick, blot with a tissue, lightly dust translucent powder (Make Up For Ever’s Powder is perfect for this because the powder is so finely milled), and then apply again. Those extra seconds will you give you hours of extra wear.

Diffuse Your Lipstick with a Brush

E40 Tapered Blending Brush
Sigma E40 Tapered Blending Brush $17.00

Any lip product can take on the appearance of a stain—if you use a fluffy brush like this one from Sigma to apply it. This type of brush will diffuse the lipstick for a stained feel. Seal the deal with a dab of lip balm to blend and soften the color even more.

Use Clear Liner

Go Clear
Know Cosmetics No Bleeding Lips Secret Lip Liner $15.00

Say hello to reverse lip liner and goodbye to feathering and bleeding forever. Unlike the lip liners you’re used to, clear lip pencils like the above create an invisible barrier around the perimeter of your lips that prevents your lipstick from traveling and feathering.

Reform a Broken Bullet

Bic Classic Lighter $10.00

To reattach a broken lipstick, grab your lighter. Melt the broken portion for just a few seconds, connect it to the base, and fuse them back together. Pop it in the freezer to solidify your work.

Contour Your Lips

Baked Split Highlighter Duo with Brush
Laura Geller Baked Highlighter With Double-Ended Face & Eye Applicator $43.00

Lip contouring is the secret to fuller lips, and it only takes four steps. The CliffsNotes version is also an option: Simply press a little bit of shimmery powder like this one from Laura Geller onto the center of your bottom lip, blot, and go. It acts as a highlighter, catching the light and making your lips look larger. To take it one step further, top it off with clear gloss.

Correct with Concealer

Hourglass Hidden Corrective Concealer $34.00

Mistakes happen. That’s why there’s concealer. Use a full-coverage concealer, like this one from Hourglass, and a precision concealer brush to clean up mistakes and outline your lips. This will make the color really pop. Even just doing the outside corners gives your smile a little lift.

Darken Up with Eyeliner

Chantecaille Waterproof Eye Liner $27.00

When your darkest lip isn’t dark enough, break out the black eyeliner. Use it as lip liner, and then top it off with the lipstick of your choice for a vampy look. Or, if you want a lip color to show up paler, try this trick with a white eye pencil.

Use Hairspray to Remove Stains

Pantene Pro-V Flexible Hold Hairspray $5.00

Great news—hair spray cures lipstick stains. Spray the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, dab it with a clean washcloth to lift the color, and then toss your formerly soiled sweater in the wash. Warning: Hair spray and dry clean–only fabrics don’t mix.

Now, you know all the lipstick tricks to keep up your A-game.