There’s more than one reason why women love lipstick. First, nothing makes a statement like walking into a room swiped in a bold red. Young girls don’t grow up dreaming to don a pale pink, after all—more like “Marilyn Red.” Second, a signature lip color can become something akin to a childhood blankie, giving comfort and confidence when we need it most. And when we finally reach the magical age when we truly come in to our own, there’s always magenta or aubergine waiting to replace that signature pale pink, even if only for the night.
That’s why as much as we love mascara or concealer (curse you, under-eye circles), lipstick will always hold a special place in a Southern gal’s heart. If our foremamas can rock a bold red lip, so can we.
But when it comes to lipstick-wearing endeavors, age is something to consider. Sadly, our lips lose collagen just like the rest of us. As time marches on, you might find your lips aren’t quite as pouty as they once were, the fine lines start to creep around the corners, and your trusty lipstick isn’t holding its ground. Let's be clear: This is no reason to break up with lipstick.
These common lipstick mistakes afflict more than just maturing women, but it just happens that they do become quite the game-changers once we make like a fine wine and age, albeit gracefully.
Here are 5 lipstick mistakes that are secretly making you look older—and how to choose and apply lipstick for aging lips, fine lines, or wrinkles.
Mistake #1: Picking the wrong formula
Long-wear is your new best friend. But first, know that long-wear and matte are very, very different things. You might think that the more matte a lipstick is, the more it should stay put and, hence, solve all of your problems. And it's true—sort of. A matte formula (often found in the form of a liquid lipstick) is indeed long-lasting but can also be insanely drying, which is already a concern for more mature skin. Instead go with a velvet or cream finish—but always long-wear!
Luckily for you, we’ve got recommendations from the best.
“When I have a more iconic actress in my chair, I’ll use something that’s velvety and long-wearing. One of my favorites right now is Maybelline’s SuperStay Ink Crayon,” says Vincent Oquendo, celebrity makeup artist and Maybelline Brand Ambassador. “You get the definition and precision without having to carry both a lipstick and lip liner all day.”
Want something creamier? L’Oréal Paris Celebrity Makeup Artist, Sir John, recommends going classic: “L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lipstick is my go-to for all ages. The pigment is so rich, and the formula is nourishing and hydrating.”
Mistake #2: Forgetting to prep your canvas
Just like there’s no way foundation is going to turn out porcelain-grade smooth on dry, flaky skin (moisturizer, stat!), your lipstick won't look its best on a flaky, cracked pout.
“Exfoliate and moisturize your lips before applying any color. Dead skin cells build up on the surface, so scrubbing them will ensure that you have a smooth, even canvas to work on,” adds Sir John.
Start by using a sugar scrub or washcloth to exfoliate, and make sure to apply lip balm or a lip mask afterwards to hydrate and refine your pout before even the first swipe is swept.
Mistake #3: Skipping liner—or primer!
Two words you never want to associate with lipstick: bleeding and smudging. That’s where lip liner or lip primer come in handy. These products create a barrier that will keep your lipstick in place all day, making the extra step more than worth it. (No more seeping into those corners!)
For an easy everyday fix, find a long-lasting lip liner that matches your natural lip color. For an occasion, match your lip liner to your lipstick shade. You can’t go wrong with Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil and its 30-plus shade range, but if you’re in the market for something full-coverage, go with the hydrating and refining MAC Prep + Prime Lip.
Mistake #4: Being scared to keep using color
There’s a common misconception that we have to stop wearing bright or bold lip color as we get older. “It’s too young,” they say. And it makes us madder than a wet hen. Make sure to pick flattering shades according to your skin tone, but never, ever stop wearing your signature red or pink unless you’re ready. In our humble opinion, it’s more youthful (and fun!) than any respectable nude.
“My mother had an old trick. Whenever she felt tired, she would put on some red lipstick. If you’re not feeling your best, sometimes lipstick is the perfect thing to brighten you up,” adds Oquendo. “It instantly makes you look more awake and calls attention to your lips instead of tired eyes! “
Mistake #5: You’re doing too much at once (what’s new?)
Granted: Usually, this is not a bad thing. But if you’re rocking a burgundy lip color with smoky eye makeup, it is going to make you look older. What do they say about “too much of a good thing?” Pick a feature to enhance, and commit to it.
“If you really want to play up your lips, go for a cherry red lip and minimal eye makeup” adds Oquendo (who works with leading ladies like Catherine Zeta Jones, Dianne Kruger, and Judith Light).
We’re basically giving you permission to go out and buy at least two new lip shades. You’re welcome.