How To Make It Stick

Elizabeth Arden & Fresh
Too Faced
Estée Lauder
Make Up For Ever

Do you ever find yourself out at dinner, on a date, or chatting someone up, trying your best to maintain thoughtful conversation when your mind is really just focused on a pesky voice inside your head telling you to check your lipstick? All those sips of your drink, the bites of your entrée, and maybe some light smooching (you go!), and you have to wonder if your lips look anything like they did during those precious moments right after application. Chances are no; instead of perfectly luscious lips, you have an awkward heavy line around the outside and the center is nearly devoid of pigment, or at best, clinging to a light, patchy tint. So what can you do instead of sneakily using your phone as an impromptu mirror; asking friends, “How’s my lipstick?!”; or running off to the little girls' room any chance you get? How can you make it stay put? We have your five-step program right here:

Step One: Prep your surface. Exfoliate! Hydrate! Clean! If you know you’re going to be wearing some color in the near future and want to ensure the perfect canvas, avoid peeling and flaky lips by drinking lots of water and being heavy handed with your tube of Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream throughout the day. And even if your lips are looking their smoothest, a good exfoliating sesh with Fresh’s Sugar Lip Polish or a soft toothbrush à la Harry Brant are the best ways to clean away dead skin (gross) and buff off microscopic bumps.

Step Two: Now the actual application begins. To ensure long-lasting wear, a primer is key. (Primers, they're not just a marketing ploy!) With a few swipes of the Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer wand, you’ll have the optimal adhesive surface, making for easy application and all-day/night wear.

Step Three: Lip liner is back—not necessarily in the brownish outline trend of the ‘90s, but rather as a base layer for the upcoming ‘stick. Choose a color similar to your lipstick, then line and fill in your lips as if that was all you were going to do. BUT IT'S NOT! The liner acts as another primer, so both are not necessary, but extra protection never hurt anyone.

Step Four: Lipstick! Instead of slapping on one thick layer, a few thin swipes, blotting in between, will give you a more permanent lock on your color of choice. Matte sticks like MAC’s formula and NARS' Pure Matte Lipsticks tend to stay better.

Step Five: Much like setting the rest of your makeup, adding a thin layer of Make Up For Ever’s HD High Definition Powder, or any translucent powder, will help set the hue and avoid dreaded lipstick marks on your coffee mug.

And while this is all well and good, perhaps you don’t have the patience for five steps. In that case, Chanel’s amazing freak of a product—Rouge Double Intensité Ultra Wear Lip Colour—looks just like lipstick but acts as a stain. It lasts for hours without any rub-off, and can be removed pretty easily with a bit of Créaline. So, there's that option.

Now you're ready to do whatever you want with your painted lips without fear of crazy mouth. Happy Hump Day.

Photos by Mathea Millman.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Nomadic D.

    Lip primer, huh? Interesting. I second the lip pencil trick, as well as the lots-of-thin-blotted-lipstick-layers trick. I vaguely remember dusting setting powder over my lips in the 90s too - didn't we used to do it through a tissue or something? Vague memories... I also remember this weird product (that I'm sure no longer exists due to extreme toxicity) that looked like clear nail polish that we would paint over our lips as a final topcoat to seal everything in. It totally worked, and nothing would move until you took sandpaper and nails to it before bed. Maybe a slight exaggeration there, but only slight...

    • V


  • Trips & Treasures

    Oh this is interesting, although I'm probably too lazy for the pencil step

  • Chantel

    Great post. I have never tried a lip primer before.

  • Bike Pretty

    Lipstick + biking is challenging. All it takes is a stray hair and whoosh!

    It's all about the lip stains for me. Especially Josie Maran's Magic Marker in Flamenco. I wear it all day, then hit the gym, and it still stays bright.

  • Caroline

    I'd never thought of using translucent powder over my lipstick. Great idea - thanks for sharing!

  • jh007

    Thanks for this! My grandmother (glamorous woman), thought me to discreetly lick the rim of the glass (or cup or what have you), before taking that first sip when wearing lipstick. It creates a sort of coating to keep stains off the glass and lipstick on your lips. It works!

  • Kanae (Pearls and Peacocks)

    Yes that Rogue line never wears off. I love it.

  • Yolondi

    We could all maybe try the Lip Ink stuff Dita Von Teese mentioned in her top shelf?

    • Badedasforever

      I used to exchange friendly emails with a part-time pinup model on Makeupalley. She told me that Lip Ink no longer seems quite as effective.
      I've heard that Lipcote can be sting-y.
      If you're doing a BRIGHT pink matte lip: if you put a layer of one of Fran Wilson's Mood Matchers and then blot it before applying your chosen BRIGHT pink lipstick, the stuff will not budge. As in, after taking a bath, washing my face, and then going to sleep, I've woken up with frickin' Fran Wilson still in place.
      For red lips, it's a non-issue for me: I am a faithful subject of her royal highness, Poppy King. Red Sinner is resilient. Long live the Lipstick Queen.

  • Leslie

    really great tips!

    Exfoliating is a must esp during winter!

  • Louise Nickel

    Love this post. Something every girl needs to read! =] xx.

  • Jo Smedley

    What a great post. I absolutely love it!!!!!

  • jas

    so.much.effort. haha

    even with lip stain, i find it hard to get the stain evenly on my lips... any tips?

    reckless abandon blog

    • Bee

      I start with balm, let it absorb, then swipe the stain across my lips and spread it with my fingers. I find it gives a softer look and blends nicely. Might end up with colored fingers but it's nothing a little oil can't fix.

      • jas

        thanks bee! i will definitely give that a try!

  • Michaela

    I never looked into lip primer before. Now, I shall! :-) Thanks for this

  • Joyce (bronzer bunny)

    I love the chanel rouge. i never thought about putting powder on my lips... i wonder if it would feel drying on! in any event, this post is very timely!

  • The Horticult

    Clinique's All About Lips is also really good for creating a smooth, lipstick-ready surface.

  • Camille

    I use Aesop's lip cream before applying any lipstick and it is really good and really natural. It moisturizes the lips but have a matte and smooth finish (because it sinks into the lips right away) so the lipstick doesn't glide when you apply it!

  • Abeille

    Thanks for the tips :) when I don't have much time I like Max Factor's Lipfinity Lipsticks & Revlon's Just Bitten Lip Stain in Passion. I wake up with it on the next morning unless I take it off by rubbing with with coconut oil.

  • Dress To Cook

    Need to try this too faced lips primer,


    Dress To Cook

  • lucinda veen

    I love the model's pinky-red matte lipstick. Is it Riri Woo, by any chance?

  • Sarah

    Has anybody had any success with long-lasting lip color like CoverGirl Outlast or MAC Longwear?

    • Rr

      I looooove cg outlast! It's amazing. Just be sure to get colors without sparkles. It literally will not budge. Not sure why ITG hasn't tried it!

  • Marleen

    I just use lipliner and a good matte lipstick like MAC Ruby Woo or Nars Red Lizard. Just be very careful when you wear it and drink your tea. If you don't, you will end up with a 'red lipstick moustache'.

  • Phaze

    I also find powdering the lip line after lipstick application stops bleeding! Great tips!

    Phaze x

  • Nomadic D.

    Ha! YES! That is the stuff I used to use! I just assumed it had been pulled for toxicity or something, cause it's pretty crazy and I'm sort of a pessimist that way, but I'm so excited you found it for us! Try this, ladies, and report back here!

  • Nicola

    I recently left the house in a hurry, and painted on a bright red without thinking about it. Then went to Crackbird, ate corn on the cob and was left with a ridiculous beard of red lipstick. And while it was happy to slide off my lips, it was harder to get off my chin, let me tell you!
    I've found blotting the layers and finishing with powder really works. I just got a MAC lipliner that matches my new shade, but I don't really like filling in my lip with it, for some reason. I'll have to look at the Chanel one!

  • Maria Lisbon

    Can we discuss that breton stripes shirt? It's beautiful. Where can we find it?

    And on the red lips, a coat of Topshop's Velvet Lips in Velveteen Ribbon survives even the ultimate lipstick test: making out.

  • CallHerKB

    I will try the thin layers with blotting in between. At work I have to keep reapplying, and all the guy make fun when I put on lipstick at my desk in the middle of the day.

  • Kim

    I know this was a year ago, but I just stumbled across this. This is what I do: some type of color-stay type lip color - the kind with an applicator. While it's still tacky, dab it with eyeshadow to set. I have to scrub it off with a toothbrush or else it'll still be there in the morning. Found this by accident because of a color-stay type I bought, while pretty in the container, was a bit off once on.


Elizabeth Arden
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
Fresh Sugar Lip Polish
Too Faced
Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer Nude
Estee Lauder
Estee Lauder Automatic Lip Pencil Duo
MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Microfinish Powder
Rouge Double Intensité Ultra Wear Lip Colour
Bioderma Crealine Travel Size