You don’t have to be a makeup genius to know that lipstick can make a big impact—taking your face from drab to dramatic or simple to sexy—in seconds. But these brilliant expert tips will show you how to make it look better, last longer and work harder.
Trick #1: Start With a Smooth Canvas
Gently exfoliate lips before applying color to make sure it goes on flawlessly, especially if you’re swiping on a dark or bold pigment that can accentuate every imperfection. “I love using a homemade scrub of sugar and honey to remove flakes and dryness,” says Dana Chasen Thomases, a makeup artist and owner of Beauty Muse Bridal.
Trick #2: Lay the Foundation
If you want the exact color you see in the tube, you need to start with a blank canvas and not the pink one that’s created by your natural lip color. To create a blank canvas, apply a thin coat of foundation all over your lips and blend over your lip line so it disappears into the rest of your skin. Or apply a smidgen of lip balm on the lips, blot and add a neutral powder to create an impromptu base that can last even longer than foundation, says makeup artist Hillary Clark.
Trick #3: Turn Any Lipstick Into a Long-Wearing One
You can make any lipstick go the distance by following these steps, says Thomases. After applying a coat of lipstick, blot it with a single-ply tissue. Then use a large eye shadow brush to dust the lips with a small amount of translucent powder. Follow with another layer of lipstick. Finally blot and powder twice before applying a final swipe of lipstick.
Trick #4: When It Comes to Red Lipstick, Size Matters
Deep dark red can make thin lips look even skinnier, says makeup artist Mai Quynh. To maximize a scarlet smile, opt instead for a bright orange-red. Try:L’Oréal Colour Riche Lipcolour in Volcanic.
Trick #5: Plump Up Your Pout by Prepping With Liner and Shadow
To plump up your pout, start by fattening up your top lip. Trace the cupid's bow with a flesh-tone liner, such as Cargo Reverse Lip Liner, and blend upward, says Clark. To create the illusion of a shadow and a fuller lower lip, use an angled eyeliner brush, pick up a touch of matte brown shadow and trace a line outside of the center of the lower lip line.
Trick #6: Or Try This Faster, Simpler Lip-Boosting Trick
Select two lip liners with the same undertones, but one to two shades apart. Line the top lip with the lighter of the two, and use the darker tone on the bottom lip line. “The effect should be subtle—not obvious—to trick the eye into seeing a fuller lip,” says Clark.
Trick #7: Become a Better Blotter
When wearing a bold lip color, position your painted lips around one of your fingers and glide it through your lips. “It may look a bit funny, but any excess lip color on the inside of your lips will come off on your finger, instead of on your teeth,” says Thomases.
Trick #8: For a Perfectly Juicy Lip Stain, Pick Up Some Cherry Kool-Aid
"Just wet the buds of a Q-tip with water and dip them in the bag of Kool-Aid," says makeup artist Daniel Martin. "Place the Q-tip in the center of your closed mouth and slide back and forth for a pop of color that stays true to tone for hours."
Trick #9: Pick Your Perfect Everyday Pink
To find the most flattering pink for you—one that’s just a touch deeper than your natural lip color—you don’t need to look further than your own mouth. Just peek inside your cheek or lower lip and match your new lipstick to that color, says Clark.
Trick #10: Breathe New Life Into Old Lipstick With Gloss
“An unexpected lip gloss color can give your favorite lipstick a fresh look each season," says Thomases. She loves topping any lipstick with a soft violet gloss, such as Bobbi Brown Shimmer Lip Gloss in Lilac Sugar, or a bolder purple jewel tone, like NARS Lip Gloss in Revolt.