Luscious lips: how to apply lipstick

Once you choose the perfect shade of lipstick, there is the not-so-simple task of applying it perfectly. The tools you need depend on the application technique, but it is good to have at hand everything you may require. You don’t want to discover that you lack this or that after you decide to try something new! So, equip your beauty products shelf with:

  1. Lip balm
  2. Lip primer
  3. Lip liner
  4. Lip brush
  5. One or more lipsticks
  6. Concealer
  7. Lip gloss

Prepare your lips

  • Exfoliate (not more often than twice a week) by rubbing your lips gently with a cloth or a soft toothbrush dipped into a mixture of brown sugar and honey or oil.
  • Hydrate with a nourishing lip balm. Leave the balm on your lips for about 15 minutes and then blot it out with a tissue.
  • Prime your lips with a dedicated lip primer or your regular foundation. Skip this step if you opt for the gradient painting technique that allows the natural lip colour to show through.
  • Line your lips with lipstick (preferably using a brush) or a lip liner. This step is not obligatory, but helps if you want to correct the shape of your lips or to get a crisp end result. You can choose the lip liner that is the colour of your skin, the colour of your lipstick, or some dark shade. Use the natural white contour of your lips as a guide when you apply lip liner. You can go just a millimetre outside or inside this contour to make your lips look fuller or thinner. Apply the lip liner with short, feathery strokes and soften it by gently tapping your fingertips over the line. Then proceed to fill in the colour. You can go from left to right, right to left, or corner to centre, or you can start with an X defining your Cupid’s bow, like in this pictorial guide:

applying lipstick: lip liner

 

Colour your lips

Layering: One good coat of quality lipstick applied directly or with a brush is usually all you need. However, it is worth your while to experiment with layering. This is an important technique, used on its own or for painting effects such as gradient, ombré, contouring and strobing. To layer the colour properly, apply one thin coat and blot it with a tissue, then add a second coat and blot again. If you want to add some gloss, first let the colour settle and dry a bit.

Gradient: There are two basic gradient styles.

Style 1: Exfoliate and condition your lips and apply a bright lipstick to the inner centre of the lips. Then blend the lipstick by pulling it out with your finger or a brush, allowing a bit of your natural lip colour to show at the edges. Finish of with a touch of gloss in the middle of your bottom lip.

Style 2: Prime your lips and, if you want, outline them with a lip liner the colour of your skin. Then colour along the outer edges with a lighter shade of lipstick. Add a darker shade to the centre and gently blend everything. There are even ready-made lipsticks in two colours, which allow you to achieve the dark centre / light edges gradient in one swipe! Just be sure to turn the multi-coloured lipstick when you take it to the lower lip.

applying lipstick: gradient

 

Ombré: The ombré technique is similar to gradient, but it works the other way around: dark shades are at the edges, and lighter ones at the centre. Also, ombré never allows the bare lips to show. The end result is usually more dramatic than a gradient.

For the classic ombré effect, outline your lips with a lip liner that is darker than your lipstick colour; it can even be black. Then apply the darker shade along the edges and the lighter shade in the centre. To blend, use your fingertips or press your lips together once or twice without rubbing them.

applying lipstick: ombre

 

Contouring: This technique involves using darker and lighter shades on and around your lips to sculpt them. To add more dimension to the lips, apply a powder that’s a few shades darker than your skin tone beneath your bottom lip. If your cupid’s bow is especially shallow, add a touch of the same powder there too. As for the lips, you would typically put darker tones at the corners and about one-third towards the centre, as well as along the bottom of both the upper and the lower lip. Then highlight the Cupid’s bow and the centre of the bottom lip and with a lighter lipstick. You may add a concealer a shade lighter than your skin around the top of the Cupid’s bow and finish the contoured look with a dash of lip gloss.

applying lipstick: contouring

 

Strobing: Strobing is a technique that only uses highlights, shine and shimmer to enhance your lips, doing away with the darks. It’s all about the glow! Start with applying the base colour to the entire surface of your lips; it can be either dark or light. The second step is the actual strobing. Add to your lips an illuminating gloss, full of glitter or slightly metallic, especially accentuating your Cupid’s arch and the middle section of your lower lip. Blend the gloss by lightly smudging it towards the outer edges of your lips. Alternatively, buy a lipstick that has a built-in strobing effect.

applying lipstick: strobing

 

Additional tips

  • When you don’t have much time or want a fuss-free look, rub some solid lipstick onto your finger and press the finger directly onto your lips, moving along the natural lip line. Then apply the colour to the interior of the lips and the inner corners.
  • Liquid lipstick is all the rage, but you need a steady hand to apply it. If you make a mistake, remove everything with an oil-based product and start again. On the upside, liquid lipstick will stay on your lips all day and will not transfer to things (or people).
  • Made a boo-boo? Absorb some of the colour that ended up in the wrong place with an ear bud or a tissue and go around your lips with a concealer pen or a brush dipped into foundation. This will clean up any little accidents and give your lips a crisp edge.
  • After applying lipstick, pop your index finger into your mouth, and then pull it out. The excess lipstick will come off on your finger, instead of ending up on your teeth.
  • To prevent lipstick marks on glass, discreetly lick your lips before taking a sip.

applying lipstick