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 • Makeup  • Makeup Tutorials  • How To Apply Your Lipstick Step-by-Step for Your Prettiest Pout Ever
Woman showing how to apply lipstick

How To Apply Your Lipstick Step-by-Step for Your Prettiest Pout Ever

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Main image – Live That Glow

Name me a person who doesn’t like to finish off her makeup look with a slick of lipstick. I’ll wait.

Whether you’re a red lip fan, you love a nude, or you’re a see-where-the-mood-takes-you kind of person, lipstick makes your pout pop, lifts your mood and doubles your confidence. You can never have too many lipsticks – personally, I’ll take them by the bucket load please.

So, here’s a reminder of how to apply it the right way with expert tips from myself and makeup expert, Andrew Grella. All in the name of creating top-notch colour pay off, and a long-lasting, professional-looking pout.


Step 1: Use a lip scrub

You wouldn’t apply foundation on an un-cleansed face, so why do the same with your lips? “Lip scrubs are great because they remove dead skin cells on your lips,” explains Grella. And because your lips will be free of any excess skin, not only will the colour pay-off of your lipstick be better but the finished result will be flake-free and neater too.


Woman showing how to use lip scrub

Image – Live That Glow


“What you do is lightly massage the scrub onto your lips using your finger and then rinse or wipe it off,” Grella adds.

Look for a sugar based scrub or add a little sugar to a lip balm and make your own.


Step 2: Apply lip balm

Not applying a balm on your lips to prepare for lipstick is like not wearing moisturiser after you’ve cleansed your skin. “Lip balm is a necessity before lip colour as it helps hydrate the lips, giving a smoother finish,” says Grella. “Look for a balm that’s hydrating and isn’t too greasy so your lipstick won’t slide off.”


Woman showing how to use lip balm

Image – Live That Glow


Step 3: Line your lips

Next, you’ll want to accentuate the shape of your lips and make them look slightly fuller using a lip liner. “Start at the middle of your upper lip, making a line to the corners of your mouth and repeat on the lower lips,” advises Grella

Some makeup artists advise drawing outside of your existing lip line which I feel can look a little unnatural so I like to stick to the very edge.


Woman showing how to apply lip liner

Image – Live That Glow


“When picking a shade, it’s better to go a shade lighter or more neutral than your lipstick for a more natural look.”

The only lip liner I think suits my fair-medium skin is Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillowtalk (£21 from Charlotte Tilbury UK /$25 from Charlotte Tilbury US). It’s pricey but because the pigment is so strong, you don’t need to use much so it lasts for ages. The colour is really flattering too. In fact, it promises to be universally so.


Step 4: Blend your liner 

“Before applying lipstick, you may want to blend your lip liner – use your finger or a brush to soften the line for a more natural look,” says Grella.


Woman showing how to blend lip liner

Image – Live That Glow


Step 5: Add lipstick

And now for the main event! “When applying lipstick, start at the middle of your upper lip, following the shape of your mouth to the corners and repeat on the lower lip,” Grella advises. 

It’s easy to tense your lips as you apply lipstick, but I find it much easier to keep them as relaxed as possible as this helps the lipstick to glide on more seamlessly and smoothly.

Choose a creamy formula if you prefer a slight sheen to your finished look and a matte lipstick if you like to make more of a statement. My all-time favourites are the MAC Cremesheen Lipsticks (£22 from MAC UK /$23 from MAC US) which are a balmy formula yet still have excellent colour pay off. 


Woman showing how to apply lipstick

Image – Live That Glow


Step 6: Do the finishing touches

“To finish off your lipstick look, blotting is recommended,” says Grella. “Gently press a tissue against your lips then remove. This helps get rid of excess lipstick and sets the colour.”


Woman doing finishing touches on her lipstick

Image – Live That Glow


If I want my lipstick to stay all day and to leave almost a stain, I blot it to the extreme! So, I apply it, then blot, apply it again, then blot it again. I repeat this a few times and soon enough, my lipstick gets the message, and my lips are left prettily stained throughout the day, even throughout eating and drinking. 

If you notice any mistakes after you’ve blotted, “you can use a bit of concealer or makeup remover on a Q-tip to tidy up the edges,” Grella explains.


Woman after applying lipstick

Image – Live That Glow


The takeaway

Approach your lipstick prep like you would your skincare regime – cleanse and moisturise. After all, you’ll get the best results if you start with smooth, flake-free lips.

Lining your lips before applying your lipstick will both help provide a good guideline and make your lips look fuller. And your colour will stay on for longer if you do my ‘extreme’ blotting trick too.


Meet the expert

Andrew Grella is the CEO and founder of Formen Makeup, a pioneering company specialising in men’s makeup and grooming products.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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