How to Apply Lip Gloss

My best lip gloss tricks in one spot

A woman applying lip gloss with a make-up brush, close-up of lips
Gianni Diliberto / Getty Images

Lip gloss remains as popular as ever, and it's no longer just for girls ages 13-17. There's no better way to visually plump up lips than to add a dab of gloss (well, except for fillers, but that's another story).

There's a right way to apply lip gloss so it doesn't look like a thick sweep of goop. Here, I share my best lip gloss secrets, including how to make gloss stick around longer than a couple licks of the tongue.

How to Properly Apply Gloss

Instead of putting the gloss on like you do lipstick (from left to right, top to bottom), apply gloss to the middle of your bottom lip only. Rub lips together. This will add the perfect amount of gloss while keeping the gloss from getting goopy on you.

If you are looking for high shine, apply a full sweep of gloss to the bottom lip and smack lips together.

Want More Color? Just Add Lipstick

I love the look of just a bit of gloss over a neutral lipstick. After applying a sweep of lipstick, dab just a bit of gloss in the center of lips and smooth out from there. But keep in mind, too bright lipstick with gloss is too much -- unless you're going on stage to perform burlesque.

Consider Using a Small Brush

For a less thick application, use a small brush rather than the tube to apply lip gloss. 

How to Keep Your Gloss Lasting Longer

Gloss famously has poor staying power. A couple licks of your tongue and some glosses are Gone, Baby, Gone.

So how to keep it around a bit longer? By adding a stain underneath.

In Vogue's big book of "Beauty," makeup artist and Nars founder Francois Nars shares his tip for creating the "perfect lip."

First, he starts by filling in the lips with lip liner. He follows this with powder to set it. On top of the powder, he adds a dab of gloss.

He loves to mix and match liners and gloss colors. There's absolutely no need to match up the colors, according to Nars.

What Color Gloss You Should Go For?

Just like lipsticks and lip liners, gloss comes in tons of colors and shades. You can go super light or super dark or pick a gloss that has no color at all. I recommend trying out different shades at a department store or Sephora before buying. You can also create your own perfect shade with lip liner and lipsticks underneath the colored gloss.

For a natural look, makeup artist Bobbi Brown suggests the most flattering shades will be a shade or 2 darker than your natural lip color. In almost of her many beauty books, she advises the following:

  • Fair-skinned women look best in pinks, beige, and light color.
  • Women with medium skin tones should try brown-based shades of rose, mauve, and berry.
  • Dark-skinned women look great in deep plums, chocolates, and reds.

If You Only Had 3 Makeup Products, Gloss Should Be One of Them?

I am absorbed in beauty because it's my job. So I'm always reading the beauty tips in magazines and I've read every beauty book out there. I follow a ton of Website and beauty blogs. And I cannot tell you how many times I've read someone revered for her beauty brag about her minimal makeup habits.

She'll usually say something along the lines of:

"All I need to feel beautiful is concealer, mascara and lip gloss."

Or, "I put on sunscreen, curl my lashes and add a smack of lip gloss and I'm good to go."

Or, "I only wear moisturizer, blush and lip gloss during the day."

Lip gloss seems to be on everyone's list of "The 3 Products I Can't Live Without."

Over 50? Yes, You Can -- And Should -- Wear Gloss

One of the biggest complaints I hear from older women is that their lips have lost a bit of their fullness as they've aged. This is normal and a result of a decrease in collagen production. You can resort to pricey fillers or you can embrace your lips and create the illusion of fullness with lip gloss.

Keep in mind that darker shades aren't as flattering on older women (unless you have dark skin).

Line your lips just on the outside of your natural lip line for added fullness. You can even line lips AFTER you've applied gloss. Just make sure the line is blended in and not obvious.

It's absolutely true that lip gloss is no longer just a beauty staple for teenagers. Great gloss works on women of all ages, whether you're 18 or 80.

For more tips, see Lipstick Tricks for Older Women. 

Make That Gloss Pop 

To make your gloss pop more, try this makeup expert secret: lighten lips with concealer before adding colored lip gloss.

Get Rid of Excess Gloss Goop

Your gloss got too goopy? Smack lips between a tissue paper, just like you would lipstick.

Don't miss How to Make Lips Appear Fuller for more tips. 

Prep Those Lips for the Smoothest Application

It's always best to start with smooth lips, whether you're using lipstick or gloss or even just lip balm.

If you are like most women, you'll suffer from flaky lips at some point during the year -- usually in winter. There are a variety of ways to exfoliate lips. Here are my favorite methods:

  1. Rub them with a damp washcloth
  2. Apply a thick coat of Vaseline and then "brush" your lips with a toothbrush (this is my favored method). See How to Fix Scaly Lips With Vaseline & a Toothbrush. 
  3. Create a paste of brown sugar and coconut, olive or almond oil and use your finger to scrub your lips in a circular motion.
  4. Buy a lip scrub. I love Fresh's Sugar Lip Polish or Sara Happ's The Lip Scrub which comes in many different yummy flavors and the cutest packaging.

The Best Lip Glosses on the Market

Now that you've got all the expert tips, it's time to buy the perfect gloss. Check out my list of 17 Favorite Lip Glosses for All Budgets.

I have done the research for you and hand selected the best-reviewed glosses from the top review sites. Nothing here was sent to me for inclusion by some PR agency. These are beloved glosses in all price points.