Makeup » How to Apply Lipstick Flawlessly: 4 Ways to Try

How to Apply Lipstick Flawlessly: 4 Ways to Try

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You can apply your lipstick to make lips look larger or smaller, following a gradient technique or a traditional application method. Learn how to pair your favorite lipsticks with the rest of your makeup, and check out our guide for a flawless lipstick application along with some tips and tricks.

In this article:

How to Apply Lipstick: The Basic Method

There is no one best method of applying lipstick, so you should always do what works best for you, but this our favorite technique, so hopefully, you will find it helpful. 

  • Before even starting your makeup, smooth on a nice, healthy coating of a moisturizing lip balm. Let it sit on your lips and soak in while you do your makeup.
  • The best time to apply lipstick is towards the very end of your makeup, and certainly, after you’ve applied your foundation and powder.
  • Once it’s time to apply your lipstick, blot off any excess lip balm that is still sitting on top of your lips.
  • You can apply your lipstick directly from the tube or use a lip brush if you would like to have a bit more control over the application.
  • Especially for more vivid or darker colors, start by tracing out your lip line either with your lipstick on a small brush (especially if it’s a long-wearing lipstick) or with a lip lining pencil.
  • Use short strokes and either follow the natural line of your lips or slightly overdraw them by tracing the vermillion border, which is the line of demarcation between the lips and the rest of the face.
  • If you struggle with keeping the process symmetrical, we suggest doing your makeup in front of a large mirror rather than a small one (or use both), so you can see the entire picture while lining your lips. The other suggestion is to work in small parts, starting from the center and working your way out. For instance, use an X to shape the inner part of your Cupid’s bow, and then slowly trace it out, alternating between one side of the lip and the other.
  • Once you’ve finished tracing your lip line, you can finally fill in the rest of your lips with lipstick!
  • Whether you’re using a bullet lipstick, a doe-foot applicator, or a brush, simply go ahead and apply the lipstick to the center of the lips, but being careful not to go outside the lip line that you’ve just painstakingly traced out.
  • Using a small brush, you can lightly trace over and blend out the lip line so that it combines more seamlessly with your lipstick.
  • Finally, look at your lips both from up close to check that the lines and overall application is pristine, and in a bigger mirror to ensure everything is symmetrical.
  • If you notice any smudges or unevenness at the lip line, you can correct it easily either with a Q-tip or concealer brush dipped in foundation or concealer, or, for larger errors, with a Q-tip dipped in makeup remover. Trace the lip line with the Q-tip or brush, which will act as an eraser to remove the errant lipstick or lip liner. You can then go back in with liner, lipstick, or foundation to perfect everything.
  • Finally, you can blot your lips with a tissue and apply just one more layer of lipstick or a new layer of lip gloss, which helps with both longevity and smoothness. We have a few more longevity tips later on in the article!
How to Apply Lipstick to Make Lips Smaller

Apply Lipstick to Make Lips Look Larger

You can slightly adjust your lipstick application to make your lips look larger, as well. The secret is to understand the basics of highlight and contour as they apply to lipstick. This technique is also known as “ombre lips” when taken to the extreme.

  • Lighter, shinier, or more reflective lipsticks will make things look larger, though only as long as they don’t fade into your skin. This is why a darker and more matte lipstick or lip liner can help by acting as a contour that contrasts against the lighter lipstick and acts as a line of demarcation.
  • The simplest way to make lips look larger is to use a slightly dark lip liner and a slightly darker lipstick to overline the lips a little bit, and then to use the lip liner to fill in the corners of the lips a little more, and then to blend the liner and lipstick together.
  • For a more intense version, it’s possible to also use a darker lipstick in the outer corners or to even layer a very light lipstick at the center of the lips. This makes the center of the lips look fuller, so the lips as a whole look larger and poutier.
  • Finally, dabbing a bit of a shiny lip gloss or even shimmery eyeshadow at the center of the lips will add even more magnifying shine.

Apply Lipstick to Make Lips Look Smaller

If you want to make your lips look smaller, there are a few ways to go about it.

  • The best method we would suggest is to apply foundation or concealer along the vermillion border of the lips, which will instantly minimize them by acting like a reverse lip liner.
  • Then, the best lipsticks to use on thick lips would be matte since they will keep the lips looking smaller and flatter.
  • It’s better to avoid lip liner altogether or to use one that is the exact same shade as the lipstick.
  • Darker lipstick all over the lips will often make them appear smaller, but a lighter lipstick will actually help downplay them by allowing them to fade a bit into the skin.

Apply Gradient Lips

Gradient lips are like the reverse of ombre lips, and they were popularized in Korea and Japan before making their way over to the West. Applying lipstick in a gradient can be quick and easy, and requires no lip liner! You can use a regular creamy or glossy lipstick, but light lip stains or sheer balms will also do the trick.

With gradient lips, lipstick is concentrated in the center of the lips and gradually fades out towards the lip line. This effect makes the lips look flushed and slightly bitten, which can be very alluring.

  • To try gradient lips, dab your lipstick of choice along the center of your lips.
  • Then, with your finger or a clean brush, smudge it outwards lightly towards the edges and lip line.
  • If necessary, dab on more lipstick, or if the lipstick goes out too far or is too saturated throughout your lips, you can blot with a tissue and then clean up the ends with a Q-tip dipped in foundation.
  • You can finish off the look with a bit sheer lip gloss for extra shine.
How to Apply Lipstick to Make Lips Larger

Matching Your Lipstick to Your Makeup

There’s more to choosing a lipstick than just looking at your own coloring – a lipstick might look fantastic with your makeup done one way, but totally awkward when done a different way. Here is our guide for making sure everything you choose is complementary!

  • Dark lipsticks, bright lipsticks, and vivid lipsticks are going to draw a lot of attention to your lips, so it is usually better to pair them with more neutral makeup, meaning softer contour, well-blended blush, and soft or natural-looking eye makeup. The exception is more editorial or high-fashion concept looks, where you can get more experimental.
  • If you really enjoy playing up the eyes with bright colors, it is better to stick to neutral or natural-looking lipstick shades that won’t compete with your eye makeup.
  • When playing with a lipstick color that isn’t inherently harmonious with your undertone (i.e. a warm lipstick when you have cool undertones), it’s usually better to keep the entire look in that same color family, with a matching blush and analog eyeshadow color. An example would be a peachy lipstick, a peachy blush, and copper eyeshadow, or a magenta lipstick, berry blush, and mauve eyeshadow.
  • If your lipstick of choice compliments your skin tone, however, you have a bit more room to play around with a more neutral blush and eyeshadow in almost any color family. In general, we do suggest avoiding a total mismatch in blush and lipstick color, unless you are aiming for the contrast to be the main point of interest in your makeup look.

More Lipstick Application Tips

  • If your lips get chapped or tend to look dry once you’ve put lipstick on, add lip exfoliation to your beauty routine. Exfoliating the lips every other day or so can help them look smoother and feel more hydrated. You can make your own lip scrub with a bit of sugar and olive or coconut oil, or you can buy one online, like the Milani Rose Sugar Scrub from Ulta. Once you’ve finished exfoliating, smooth on a layer of protective lip balm.
  • To make your bullet lipstick last extra-long, try our powder trick. After you apply your lipstick, blot your lips with a tissue. Then, split the tissue in half so that you only have one ply. Press the ply of tissue against your lips, and apply translucent powder on top of it with a fluffy makeup brush or a makeup sponge. This will work to mattify your lipstick and also to increase its longevity. If you don’t want your lipstick to look matte or you want it to look very saturated, just add another layer of lipstick on top of the powder, and it’ll still last for ages.
  • Lipstick can be applied to more than just the lips! You can dab and blend a bit of lipstick to your cheeks (after foundation but before powder), and it’ll work just like a cream blush to give you a stunning “lit from within” flush. The only lipsticks that won’t work for this are the long-lasting matte liquid types.

Photos via @beautsoup, Instagram