It’s beauty 101: if you want to create an eye-catching look, go for bold lipstick. But bright shades can be difficult to wear—the color is so noticeable that even small mistakes stand out all the more, making flawless application essential.
Easier said than done, we know. So we consulted our favorite makeup artists to find out exactly how to apply lipstick so that it looks—and stays—totally perfect. Get ready to embrace all of your favorite bright, bold shades.
Blot for long wear.
Makeup artist Suzy Gerstein says that the key to perfect wear is all in the blot. After brushing on lip color straight from the tube, she blots with Tatcha Blotting Papers ($12, sephora.com) instead of tissues to pick up excess oils. “This is trick really gives the lipstick longer wear and makes the color meld to the lips so that it becomes a part of your skin and less ‘drawn-on’ looking,” she tells us.
By now, you’ve probably heard the old beauty chestnut that you should apply a thin layer of concealer to your lips before adding color to make it pop. But Suzy says to skip this step if you want comfortable color. “I am not a big fan of foundation or concealer on the lips like some makeup artists,” says Gerstein. “I find it tends to build up and get cakey.” Instead, pick a shade with serious color payoff—like Rituel de Fille Lipstick in Written in Blood ($23, ritueldefille.com.)
Add a stain.
Liner isn’t the only essential that will lengthen the life of your lipstick—makeup artist Hinako has another trick up her sleeve, and it’s got to do with lip stain. After moisturizing and defining the lips with liner, Hinako uses a lip stain like Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Vernis A Levres Glossy Stain ($36, sephora.com) onto the lips to add “richness and depth.” Finally, she paints the lipstick overtop with a brush, and voila—rich color that stays all day.
Get the perfect shape.
Fall is all about deeper, richer lipstick colors—and the key to making them look fantastic is a perfectly defined lip line. Makeup artist Vanessa Scali (who is responsible for Christina Hendricks‘ always perfect lipstick) says that the key to a flawless shape is not flooding the lip line with color. “I apply the color to the center of the lips only straight from the bullet, press in, and then use a lip brush to fill in the lips to the lip line,” says Scali. “The brush will allow precision application right where you need it.”
Exfoliate and prep.
Bold colors have a habit of highlighting any dryness or flaky skin on our lips, which is less than cute. Before makeup artist Fabiola applies color, she exfoliates lips with Fresh’s Sugar Polish ($23, fresh.com) or a toothbrush. Immediately afterwards, Fabiola preps the lips to prevent the color smudging or bleeding. Enter Make Up For Ever’s Lip Line Perfector ($19, sephora.com), a clear lip liner that she applies all over the lips. “The Perfector is the ideal sealant to keep the lip from bleeding, especially when doing a red or dark lip,” she says.
The secret to the perfect liner.
When makeup artist Susan Haddon applies bold lipstick, she starts by using a lip liner that matches the lips natural color—not the shade of the lipstick itself. “This sets up the shape and helps set the lip color, and it will wear more evenly,” she says.
Balance the rest of your look.
Makeup artist Neil Scibelli says when wearing seriously bold lipsticks, you should keep the rest of your makeup regimen fresh and simple so that the lips really stand out. A key part of this is perfect skin—Scibelli says he uses NARS Instant Line and Pore Perfector ($28, sephora.com) to ensure a gorgeous complexion. As a bonus, the says that if you make sure to get your primer close to the lip line, it will prevent the color from feathering. How’s that for genius?
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