How to Apply Lipstick: 17 Tips and Tricks

Get Great Lips With a Few Beauty Secrets

Tricks for wearing lipstick
Peter Dazeley for Getty

Great lips can really set off your style, but what's the best way to choose and apply lipstick or gloss? There are definitely a few do's and don't's when it comes to getting great looking lips. Let's explore a few insider beauty tips that makeup artists swear by.

Don't Play Up Your Eyes and Mouth

The best approach to makeup is to play up your best feature, so choose between your eyes or your mouth. Women who wear both heavy eye makeup and dark lipstick can look over-done.

At times, it can even border on the edge of clownish.

If you want to wear red lipstick, keep the rest of your makeup light. If you are playing up the eyes, keep your mouth light with a gloss or light lip color that doesn't stand out.

To get nude lips, cover your lips with concealer or foundation before applying gloss. This renders lips practically colorless and looks great with smokey eyes.

Plump Up Your Lips

You don't have to get fillers in your lips to have the bee-stung look. For plumper lips, apply liner just outside your natural lip line, then dab a bit of gloss in the middle of your bottom lip and smack your lips together.

Choose the Right Shade  

You may like a lipstick on your friend, but it may not look good on you. Makeup artist Bobbi Brown swears that the best lipstick shade is a shade or two darker than your natural lip color.

Keep in mind that orange or brown shades, including corals, look good on only a few people.

These shades also tend to make teeth appear yellow.

The Best Way to Apply Lipstick?

There are no real rules to applying lipstick. Some women use special lipstick brushes, while others own one and never use it. Some women simply use their middle finger and most women apply it straight from the tube. Choose what's right for you.

As long as the color gets on the lips, you're good.

Use Liner as a Base

Lipstick will last longer if you fill in your lips with the liner first. If you're using light lipstick, try a nude liner. Then slick your lipstick on top.

Lip gloss is infamous for wearing off fast. However, if you fill in your lips with a liner, you're giving the gloss has something to stick to.

Try a Long-Lasting Lip Stain

One of the most annoying things about lipstick and gloss is that it doesn't last long. Luckily, they now make lip stains that last hours and eliminate this problem entirely. 

A favorite lip stain for many women is Chanel's Rouge Double Intensite. Once you apply it, it stays put for hours. It also comes with a bit of gloss to make it appear less matte.

While Chanel's lipsticks are pricey, you can get longer wearing lip stains from drugstore brands, too. Here are a few that get good reviews:

Line Before or After?

Some women prefer to apply liner first, arguing that you won't be able to see the natural line of your lips if you apply lipstick first. However, other women find that their lips look more natural when they line the lips after applying lipstick.

Experiment with these two approaches to see which you like best.

Avoid Dark Liners With Light Lipstick

Defined lips are great, but make sure the liner matches the lipstick or gloss. Using a dark liner with light lips can look a little off and may even come off as tacky. 

Properly Test Lipstick in a Store

It's just plain unhygienic to test lipstick at a Sephora or department store without wiping off the lipstick with a tissue. You can avoid testing on your lips by swiping the stick on your fingertips. It's a closer fit to your lips than the back of your hand. Also, it's courteous to wipe off the end of the lipstick before you put it back for another person to try.

Don't Throw Out a Bad Shade

Think twice before you toss that lipstick you really don't like. As many beauty editors will tell you, it's entirely possible to create a great lip color by blending lipsticks you don't like.

Give it a try next time and you may be surprised at the results.

Is your lipstick too bright? You can take the color down a few notches by coloring in your lips with a darker liner before applying any bright shade.

Prevent Lipstick Marks on Glass

There's no need to let everyone know which glass is yours by leaving a lipstick print on the rim. To prevent it, discreetly lick your lips before taking a sip from a glass. It really does work.

Lipstick that doesn’t end up on your cup or your husband’s cheek, will end up in you (as crazy as that seems). I read ages ago that the average woman consumes about 6 pounds of lipstick over the course of her lifetime. However, there’s no need to worry. The ingredients in lipstick won’t harm you and are broken down by stomach acids.

Keep Lipstick Off Your Teeth

There's a simple trick to avoiding lipstick on your teeth and you'll want to do it every time. After applying lipstick, simply pop your index finger into your mouth, then pull it out. The excess lipstick will come off on your finger rather than your teeth.

Lipstick Can Act as a Blush

Carrying around a neutral color of lipstick can be a lifesaver when you need a little color. While you can use the lipstick as a quick blush, you should never use blush as a lipstick.

To use lipstick as a blush, dab a few dots on the apples of your cheeks and blend, blend, blend. It helps to have moisturized skin first so the lipstick blends well.

Go for "Creamier" Lips as You Age

It's natural that as we age, our lips thin out. Therefore, as the years pass by, it's best to begin passing up matte and gloss looks and transition to a creamy lipstick instead. Also, you'll want to back off those dark lipsticks and keep things nice and light.

Camouflage Yellowed Teeth

To downplay a yellow cast on your teeth, try lipsticks with a bluish undertone. According to Lazarus, a New York City makeup artist, shades that work include plums, pinks, wines, and violets.

Don't Throw Out a Broken Lipstick

If your lipstick breaks off, there's no need to throw it in the trash.

It's incredibly easy to "heal" it instead.

Using a tissue, pick up the broken portion, then slowly wave a lit match under it. When it's melted a bit, put it back on the base, swivel it down and put it in the fridge—uncovered—for 30 minutes.

Lipstick All Gone?

When you near the end of your favorite lipstick, you might notice there's still a bit of lipstick down in the tube. That's still perfectly usable, you just have to get creative to make it work.

Scrape out the last bits of lipstick with a cotton swab or a stick and mix it with Vaseline or lip gloss in a lipstick palette. Use a lip brush to apply.