Wang Xi on Unsplash
If you’re still simply applying lipstick straight from the bullet, you might be missing a trick. There are actually so many things you can do with the stuff (like customising the finish and changing up the colour) to get the most out of your purchase. Plus, there are plenty of clever application tricks out there that make a makeup artist–worthy lip a doddle. And what happens when your lipstick smudges against its tube? Well, we know some pretty special tips to bring a lipstick back from the brink too.
Below you’ll find 15 of the most game-changing lipstick hacks you’ll want to try ASAP. Scroll through to learn a thing or two.
Hold onto your old contact lenses case. It’ll come in handy if your favorite lipstick gets crushed or melted. Just scoop out what’s left and store it in a very portable contact lenses case. Not a contacts wearer? Pick up a small pillbox at the drugstore.
Always use a sharp pencil when applying lip liner, but warm it between your index finger and thumb for a few seconds first. Softening the pencil just a tad ensures a smooth application—no tugging or jumping. Try Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Lip Liner (£15).
Found a colour you love but wish it were matte? You can fix that with powder blusher. Find a (shimmer-free) product that’s close to your lipstick colour, press it into your lips with your finger, and voilà—matte lip colour. We like Clinique’s Blushing Blush Powder Blush (£24).
For the “your lips, only better” look—also known as the “I just ate a popsicle” effect—make a kissy face and dab your lipstick onto the centre of your lips (your finger works well here). You’ll get just a kiss of colour right where you want it. Bright, poppy shades like No7’s Stay Perfect Lipstick (£10) in Smooth Shiraz are best for this.
Exfoliation is mandatory. Pricey lip scrubs are not. You can make your own with a little bit of sugar and anything gooey—honey, lip balm, face serum, any kind of oil. Or use a soft toothbrush or clean spoolie to gently buff away flakes. Once they’re smooth, don’t forget to keep them hydrated and your lipstick will always look smooth.
First, a quick biology lesson. “Lip tissue differs from skin tissue on other parts of the body in that it not only has fewer cell layers of thickness but also has reduced total fats and oils (lipids) and especially a deficiency of cholesterol,” Dr. Thornfeldt says. “Thus its protective barrier properties are easily compromised.” Which explains why lips get dry and chapped, causing you to seek relief in the form of lip balm.
Dr. Thornfeldt says most products help initially, but over time they allow waxes, skin cells, bacteria, and yeast to build up—all of which the lip tissue tries to get rid of during the normal cell turnover process. And when it’s not able to slough off this buildup, the skin reacts negatively. So you end up feeling the need to apply more lip balm. “It’s not that the lip balm itself is ‘addictive,’” Dr. Thornfeldt says, “Rather, the lips are trying to get rid of the waxes, bacteria, yeast, and other buildup left on the skin; the person in turn is trying to stop the uncomfortable feeling, and thus applies more lip balm to get back to the state of smooth, soft lips. This is only temporary, of course, and the cycle continues.”
Yes, you can achieve the perfect Cupid’s bow. Just make an X. Using any lip pencil (we’ve been liking Hourglass's Panoramic Long Wear Lip Liner, £22 lately), draw a diagonal line that extends down from the highest point of your top lip. Do the same thing to the other side of your lip, and continue your lip-lining as usual. Your pout will be impeccably defined.
When your nudes aren’t showing up nude, it’s time to neutralise. Tone down naturally pigmented lips by applying a light layer of foundation before your lipstick. You don’t need a lot, but this step ensures your lip colour will look exactly how it should on your lips. Just skip mattifying foundation formulas. Stick foundations make this a breeze. We like Bobbi Brown's Skin Foundation Stick (£31).
Apply, blot, dust, apply—four steps to turn your average lip color application into a long-wearing wonder. Apply your lipstick, blot with a tissue, lightly dust translucent powder (Make Up For Ever’s HD Microfinish Powder, £22, is perfect for this because the powder is so finely milled), and then apply again. Those extra seconds will you give you hours of extra wear.
Any lip product can take on the appearance of a stain—if you use a fluffy brush like Sigma's E40 Tapered Blending Brush (£13) to apply it. This type of brush will diffuse the lipstick for a stained feel. Seal the deal with a dab of lip balm to blend and soften the color even more.
Say hello to reverse lip liner and goodbye to feathering and bleeding forever. Unlike the lip liners you’re used to, clear lip pencils like Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lip Liner (£4) create an invisible barrier around the perimeter of your lips that prevents your lipstick from traveling and feathering.
To reattach a broken lipstick, grab your lighter. Melt the broken portion for just a few seconds, connect it to the base, and fuse them back together. Pop it the freezer for 15 minutes to solidify your work.
Contouring (tutorial here) is the secret to fuller lips, and it only takes four steps. The CliffsNotes version is also an option: Simply press a little bit of shimmery powder (like Laura Geller’s Baked Highlighter with Double-Ended Face & Eye Applicator, £24) onto the center of your bottom lip, blot, and go. It acts as a highlighter, catching the light and making your lips look larger. To take it one step further, top it off with clear gloss.
Mistakes happen. That’s why there’s concealer. Use a full-coverage concealer, like Hourglass Hidden Corrective Concealer (£25), and a precision concealer brush to clean up mistakes and outline your lips. This will make the colour really pop. Even just doing the outside corners gives your smile a little lift.
When your darkest lip isn’t dark enough, break out the black eyeliner (Chantecaille's Waterproof Eye Liner, £22, is one of our favourites). Use it as lip liner, then top it off with the lipstick of your choice for a vampy look. Or, if you want a lip colour to show up paler, try this trick with a white eye pencil.
Great news—hair spray cures lipstick stains. Spray the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, dab it with a clean washcloth to lift the colour, then toss your formerly soiled sweater in the wash. Warning: Hair spray and dry clean–only fabrics don’t mix.
Do you know another great lipstick trick? Come and tell us in The British Beauty Line.