How to Apply Lipstick: 17 Tips and Tricks

Tricks for wearing lipstick
Lipstick shades. Peter Dazeley for Getty

A beauty tip I've always sworn by is to pick your best feature and play it up. If you are complimented often on your lips, consider yourself lucky; it's time to accentuate them. Here are 17 tips on how to apply lipstick.

Don't Play Up the Eyes and the Mouth

Women who wear heavy eye makeup and dark lipstick can look 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, which look great with smokey eyes, cover lips with concealer or foundation before applying gloss. This renders lips practically colorless.

How to Plump Up 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 lips together.

How to Choose the Right Shade of Lipstick or Gloss  

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. Orange or brown shades, including corals, look good on few people. These shades tend to make teeth appear yellow.

Is There One Best Way to Apply Lipstick?

I don't believe in rules to applying lipstick. Some women use special lipstick brushes. I own one and never, ever use it.

Others use their middle finger. Most women apply right from the tube. Choose what's right for you, as long as the color gets on the lips, you're good.

Use Liner on Your Lips 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, but if you fill in lips first with the liner, the gloss has something to stick to.

Try a Long-Lasting Lip Stain

One of the most annoying things about lipstick and gloss is how it doesn't last long. But these days they make lip stains that last hours. 

My favorite lip stain is Chanel's Rouge Double Intensite (buy it from Chanel). You apply it and it stays put for hours. It 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:

You Can Line Before or After You Apply Lipstick or Gloss

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. But I find lips look more natural when I line lips after I apply lipstick.

Never Use a Dark Liner With Light Lipstick

Defined lips are great, but make sure the liner matches the lipstick or gloss.

Dark liner and light lips is tacky.

How to 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 of Lipstick

Beauty editors know you can create a great lip color by blending lipsticks you don't like. You can also color in lips with a darker liner before applying a lipstick that's too bright.

How to Keep Lipstick from Marking Your Glass

Discreetly lick your lips before taking a sip from a glass. It works!

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 (eek) of lipstick over the course of her lifetime. Bizarre, but true. 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 With This Trick

After applying lipstick, take your index finger and pop it in 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

But 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.

The Older You Are, the "Creamier" Your Lips Should Look

As we age, our lips thin out. Therefore, you should avoid matte and gloss and stick with a creamy lipstick. Also, watch out for dark lipsticks.

Camouflage Yellowed Teeth

To downplay a yellow cast to teeth, try lipsticks with a bluish undertone. Shades that work include plums, pinks, wines and violets, according to Lazarus, an NYC makeup artist, in O magazine.

Heal — Don't Throw Out — a Broken Lipstick

If your lipstick breaks off, simply take off the broken portion with a tissue, then slowly wave a lit match under the broken piece of lipstick. 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 Done?

You might notice there's still a bit of lipstick down in the tube. Scrape out the last bits with a cotton swab or orange stick and mix it with Vaseline or lip gloss in a lipstick palette. Use a lip brush to apply.