Whether you’re an old pro at applying lip color or the thought of applying a red lip quickly gives you nightmares, lipstick issues happen to all of us. It gets on your teeth, it makes your lips dry, it feathers out—tales as old as time, all of them. Fortunately, there’s plenty of useful tips, tricks and hacks that will help you step up your lipstick game. Read on to learn our favorites!
The first step–before you even think about applying lipstick—is to exfoliate and moisturize your lips. For exfoliating, you can save money and simply use a wet toothbrush or washcloth, or a DIY mixture of oil and brown sugar. To moisturize, anything from natural oils to your favorite lip balm is fine. Just make sure to wipe off any excess before applying lipstick—you want your lips to be hydrated, not greasy. We love Bite Beauty 5 Night Fix for Lips ($15), a brilliant combo pack that will help exfoliate and rehydrate your lips while you sleep.
We also recommend stocking up on lip balms with SPF 30 at the drugstore this summer; the sunscreen will protect your lips from becoming dry, chapped, and damaged. Our favorites: Sun Bum Coconut Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 30 ($3).
It seems like there’s a primer to go with every beauty product these days, from eye shadow and mascara, to foundation and even nail polish. There’s a good reason for it though: primer helps the product to go on better and last longer. Use a clear lip primer before applying lipstick for a smoother application and less fading or transferring. Our ultimate favorite is Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer ($20), as it really delivers on its promise to prevent fading, bleeding, and creasing of lip color. If you’re on a budget,e.l.f. Lip Primer & Plumper ($3) is a great alternative. We like it for its priming abilities more so than the plumping effects (although that’s a handy bonus if you like that sort of thing).
Use a soft pencil lip liner to follow the natural curve of your lips; you can even go just outside of your lips to make lips seem fuller. Be sure to fill them in as well so that it’s not obvious; the different colored lipliner look went out in the 90s, and we don’t want it back.
If you find that your lipstick migrates into the fine lines we all have around our lips, never fear: this is called feathering, and it’s totally preventable. You can either use a lipliner in the same shade as your lipstick, or (our favorite) a clear liner. Clear liner creates an invisible barrier around your lips and stops that pesky feathering. We really love Lipstick Queen Invisible Lip Liner ($18); it works (and feels) like a dream.
But if color is more your speed, we’ve got you covered. Essence Lip Liner($1.50), especially in the shade Wish Me A Rose, is gorgeous, has lots of pigment, goes on soft and silky—and costs less than a subway ride!
Another trick to make lips appear fuller with lipstick is with contouring. A slightly lighter shade of lipstick on the fuller parts of the lips (near the center) will make them seem larger—bonus points if it’s a slightly shimmering shade that reflects light. Simply layer it over a darker shade of lipstick with clean fingers or a small brush. Blend well so that you get an ombré effect, not a stark line.
Make your lipstick last longer and prevent smudges and transfers by blotting correctly. Take a piece of tissue and gently place it over your lips, then use a fluffy brush to evenly distribute HD powder on top of the tissue and your lips. You’ll find that this is a much more effective way of blotting and setting lipstick than simply pressing your lips with a tissue. Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder($19-34) has a cult following thanks to amazing setting abilities and velvety feel; we love that whether you use it on your lips or face, it doesn’t flash back in photos.
And of course, always be sure to do one last trick before leaving the house: stick a finger in your mouth and drag it out to catch any excess lipstick on your finger instead of on your teeth. An old trick, but a classic for a reason.