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How do I Apply Lipstick?

B. Miller
B. Miller

Whether you are choosing to wear bright red, dramatic lipstick or a paler lipstick in a more neutral shade, it is important to apply lipstick properly to avoid looking unnatural. The general rule of thumb is to only apply as much as needed, and then blot off any excess. Being judicious when you apply lipstick will help to ensure that it looks natural and not overdone. There are many different types of lipstick to choose from, including moisturizing and long-wearing, among others.

Before you apply lipstick, lips should be clean and dry. Do not apply lip balm or lip gloss first; even though this can help to moisturize the lips, it will prevent the lipstick from sticking, and it will wear off much more quickly. If you choose to wear lip liner, this should be applied first.

A woman applying lipstick.
A woman applying lipstick.

Lip liner may be applied in a thin line around the entire mouth; be certain to stay within the lines of the lips, and do not go outside the natural lip line. The lip liner should be approximately one shade darker than the lipstick you are wearing. Though lip liner can be helpful in creating a more professional, dramatic look, as well as preventing lipstick from feathering into small wrinkles around the lips, it is generally not necessary for everyday makeup.

Red lipstick inside the natural lip line.
Red lipstick inside the natural lip line.

If you are using lipstick from a twist-up tube, simply apply lipstick in a smooth motion over the bottom lip, then in two separate strokes from the middle to the corner on the top lip. Lipstick may also be applied with a small, angled lipstick brush, which can give a more defined line. Some areas may need a bit more than others; once the lips are evenly coated with lipstick, place a tissue in between the lips and press them together in order to blot up any excess, and prevent it from winding up on your teeth.

When wearing lipstick, choose whether you want your lips or your eyes to stand out.
When wearing lipstick, choose whether you want your lips or your eyes to stand out.

After applying the lip color, some people choose to apply lip gloss on top of the lipstick. This can give it extra shine, or add more dimension to the color. In addition, it can help to make the lip color last longer; generally, only the lip gloss will need to be reapplied throughout the day, not the lipstick. Experts often recommend that you should make either the eyes or the lips dramatic, but not both; for instance, if you apply lipstick in a dark, eye catching shade, keep the eye makeup more neutral for a pretty, natural look.

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Discussion Comments


I am a lipstick fiend. I am always on the hunt for the perfect lipstick. To me, lipstick pulls your whole makeup look together.

I always use lipliner under my lipstick, in a neutral color, to make my lipstick last longer. It works pretty well.

I had some of that long-last lipstick, but alas, they discontinued the color I loved, and they don't have anything really close to it.

I always apply lipstick on my upper lip first, and then do my lower one. Probably because the upper lip takes more time. I always wipe under my lip and at the bow of my upper lip to define it just a little.


I don't usually have time to use a lipstick brush, although there's no doubt the results are good. But it does take time.

I hope the fad of outlining one's lips in a slightly darker shade of lipliner has come and gone. It always looked awful and I don't know how in the world it ever caught on.

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    • A woman applying lipstick.
      By: bst2012
      A woman applying lipstick.
    • Red lipstick inside the natural lip line.
      By: jamenpercy
      Red lipstick inside the natural lip line.
    • When wearing lipstick, choose whether you want your lips or your eyes to stand out.
      By: Subbotina Anna
      When wearing lipstick, choose whether you want your lips or your eyes to stand out.
    • Lipstick should appear natural in color.
      By: Nicola_Del_Mutolo
      Lipstick should appear natural in color.