3 Tricks to Make Dark Lipstick Stay on Your Lips

Photo: Adrian Gaut / Trunk Archive

The minute there’s a chill in the air, I crave dark berry and plum lipstick the way other people crave pumpkin spice lattes. In the past, I’d swipe some on and go, but in the last few years I’ve noticed that lipstick doesn’t want to stay on my mouth. Instead, the pigment tends to migrate into the micro-fine lines popping up out of nowhere around my lips, making me look like Courtney Love circa Hole.

Related: How to Master the Ombré Lip

These new tiny facial rivulets obviously called for an updated application technique, so I consulted celebrity makeup artist Tina Turnbow, who counts Claire Danes, Keri Russell, and Mary Louise Parker as clients. Here are her tips for keeping that merlot-hued lip color where it belongs, whether you’re 22 or 42:

Lip liner is your friend: And not just as a first step – Turnbow often uses only lip liner on her clients and skips the traditional lipstick altogether. “I like to shape the lip with a liner and fill it in. You can’t really refine the shape of your mouth with lipstick because of the quality of it— it will seep into a line more than liner will,” she explains. “Liner is a little drier, so it won’t travel, whereas lipsticks, which are formulated in a creamier way, will move.” 

If you want a creamier look, Turnbow recommends popping some regular lipstick over your liner just in the center of your mouth, avoiding the outer edges. If you really like the feeling of traditional lipsticks, use a lip liner as base, then opt for a long-wear lipstick formula, which tend to be drier than regular ones and less likely to bleed. Or, you can skip the liner and just stain your lips by gently blotting color only in the center.

Some of her favorite liners:

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil ($25)

Jane Iredale Lip Pencil ($13)                                                                          

Tarte Lipsurgence Lip Tint ($24)

Revlon Colorstay Lip Liner ($6)

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil ($20)

Powder power: If you want extra insurance that your lip color won’t end up somewhere near your nostrils, powder over your mouth as a last step. “You can put a tissue on top of your lips and dust translucent powder over it,” Turnbow says. “You can also use powder from a compact and sponge it over the top, or use a Q-tip to powder around the edges of your lip.”

Related: Get that Signature J.Crew Lip

Don’t skimp on skin care: In addition to keeping your lips hydrated with balm and drinking a lot of water, don’t forget to slather the area around your lips with the same skin care products you use on the rest of your face. “Moisturizers and serums should go around your lips, too. I don’t think people put it that far down usually!” Turnbow says. (This is a great point, because I realized I wasn’t using my potions around my lips.)

Now, hopefully, my lipstick will only end up on my pumpkin spice latte cup, and not on my chin.