If you’re anything like me, you probably have between three to 10 [lipsticks] (https://www.glamour.com/story/best-red-lipstick) in your purse right now (I generally have about 12 on me at all times). There’s a reason we hoard the stuff, for one, lipstick is so small it’s hard not to want to collect them all. But they’re also easy to use, there are tons of color options, and they possess that elusive quality that makes you look pulled together instantly.
While application is generally pretty simple—just swipe on—there are a few ways you can step up your lipstick game for the most color payoff, most dimension, and maximum staying power. We polled top makeup artists for the best tricks they’ve picked up over the years. Here are the 10 best lipstick tips ever. Period.
1. Prep Is Key
To get the smoothest application and longest wear, take a few extra seconds to properly prep your lips. Celebrity makeup artist Matin recommends starting with a lip scrub for gentle exfoliation, followed by a lip oil or lip treatment (he loves the Embryolisse lip balm) while you’re doing your hair and the rest of your makeup. Celebrity makeup artist Mai Quynh notes that it’s essential to blot off any treatment before applying your color to prevent smearing.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Powder
Just like you set your face with powder, setting your lipstick will keep in locked on. “If you’re using a cream, I like to apply the color, then blot it with a tissue lightly,” says Matin. “Then, use a half ply of the tissue like a veil on your lips and use a brush to tap powder on it.”
3. Concealer Is the Best Liner
In addition to using a lip liner, trace a light coating of a dry concealer (Matin recommends the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage) around the outside of your lips to keep your lip line crisp.
4. Yes, Primer Really Does Make a Difference
It may seem excessive, but primer really lays the foundation for a great lip day. “I line around the lips to build an invisible wall that will keep lip color from feathering, then apply it all over the lip as well to prime it,” says makeup artist Steve Kassajikian, who loves the Urban Decay Ultimate O-Zone Multi-Purpose Priming Pencil.
5. Ditto Lip Liner
Liner really is the secret to adding dimension and making sure lipstick actually stays on your lips. Quynh recommends “starting with lip liner first and filling in the entire lip, like a base for your lipstick,” for the longest lasting pout. And if you’re looking for a good universal shade Charlotte Tilbury recommends her famous Pillow Talk liner. (One of our other favorite lipstick tips is wearing wearing lip liner with a clear balm, which gives a “your lips but better” illusion.)
6. Sometimes Less Is More
While you may think multiple coats of lipstick is the key to a bold lip, too many layers throughout the day can lead to smearing and can look heavy. Instead, Matin recommends touching up with a matte tinted lip balm like the Chapstick Total Hydration Balms to add color but not texture.
7. Customize, Customize, Customize
To save a shade that looked better in the tube than on your lips, Matin recommends mixing it with other products in your makeup bag. “Use a lip liner on your entire lip and then use the lipstick to get a different shade, or mix a little bit of it with another lipstick and experiment until you get a desired unique shade.” If a color is a bit too bold for you but you don’t want to start from square one, Kassajikian recommends applying a neutral gloss on top to tone it down.
8. Formula Is Key
If you want your lips to stay moisturized, keep an eye on the ingredients label. Kassajikian says to look for aloe vera or jojoba oil for the most comfortable wear. It’s also important to keep your desired results in mind, as different finishes work for different needs. “If you have really dry lips some people like to do something more creamy or glossy, but if you want that bold punch of color, I always recommend a matte or semi-matte formula,” says Quynh. “Mattes are super long-wearing and more pigmented.” She loves the Jill Stuart Beauty lipsticks across all formulas.
9. Layer Up
For the most plump look, Kassajikian says to layer two shades of lipstick for dimension. Start with the darker shade on the outside and a pop of the lighter shade in the center of your lips.
10. Highlighter Isn’t Only for Your Cheeks
Our senior beauty editor Lindsay Schallon’s favorite tip she’s picked up over the years is to use highlighter on your cupid’s bow to make lips look plumper and more defined. She may or may not have learned this from Pat McGrath herself.