Red Lips 101: Apply Lipstick So It Lasts

You’ve picked your perfect red lipstick. Now how do you get it to look tidy and stay put? Here’s how to apply lipstick like a pro. (Scroll past the infographic for even more details.)

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How To Apply Lipstick | Below Freezing Beauty

Start with smooth lips.

If your lips are dry and flaky, your lip color is going to look sloppy no matter how well you apply it. Start by getting your lips nice and smooth using a sugar scrub or even a clean toothbrush.


A lip primer is one of those things that seems superfluous but can actually make a big difference in the wear of your lipstick. I like a primer that lays down a nice tacky base so color really sticks to it. Try NYX Lip Primer for a good product at a great price point.


Lip liner: Do you need it? I say yes, IF you use it wisely. Lip liner defines your lips, helps you color inside the lines when you move on to the next step, and provides a good foundation for your lip color. Use the side of your pencil, not the point, so you get a soft, wide line.

Rather than trying to draw all the way around your Cupid’s bow, think of your upper lip as four straight lines: two coming down from the points of your Cupid’s bow to the corners of your mouth, and two more coming down toward the center of your lip (see the infographic for an example). Your upper lip should look like you’ve drawn an X in the middle. Then connect the two lines in the very center. This will help you more precisely line the tricky part of your lip.

Once you’ve got your line in place, use a sponge-tipped lip blending brush (or just your fingertip) to blend out your lip liner. I usually end up with a gentle wash of color over the entire lip, but you at least want to make sure you don’t have any strong lines that you have to cover up.

Apply lipstick.

I’ve written before about why a lip brush is useful. It’s especially so when you’re applying lipstick in a bold color like red. It’s a lot easier to add more color than it is to take it away (or undo mistakes), and your lipstick will wear better if it’s not packed on in thick layers. Start light with a thin coat of lipstick and gradually increase your coverage.

Optional: Set with powder.

To really keep your color in place, set your lips with a dusting of powder or a matching eye shadow/pigment. (This step doesn’t work if you’re going for a high-shine look.) If you want to be extra, you can substitute a dash of glitter instead.

One last thing: The finger check.

Worried about keeping lip color off your teeth? After you apply lipstick, put the tip of a finger in your mouth and gently close your lips around it (like it’s a straw). With your lips still (gently) closed, pull your finger out. Any lipstick that might have ended up on your teeth should now be on your finger instead!

Do you have red lipstick anxiety? Send me your questions and fears!


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