How to Make Lipstick Last Longer in 3 Steps!

We all want to know how to make our lipstick last longer, so here’s what I’ve found works best for getting longer wear out of your lipsticks (and glosses, to some extent) without always having to opt for a matte, liquid lipstick.  The key to making your lipstick last the longest it can is to apply to a great canvas–that means hydrated, smoother lips that color will adhere better to–and to apply in thin layers and build up.

Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks

Step 1: Prep Your Lips

To make your lipstick last longer, a lot of it is in the prep and then the rest is in the type of lip color you’re using. Something like a tinted lip balm is not going to match the longevity of a bulletproof liquid lipstick.  For longer-wearing lipstick, it’s worth taking the extra time in the beginning to set up the color for success when you need reliable, long-wear.  For day-to-day, you may find every step unnecessary, and the prep may be unruly if you’re starting with a bold, matte red lipstick but totally necessary for a satiny, light beige lipstick.

Apply some lip balm as early as possible!  We want to reap some of the benefits of that immediate lay down of a lip balm, so I like to apply lip balm when I start my makeup (or with my morning skincare routine), and then wipe it off on the back of my hand or a tissue prior to actually working with lip primers, lip liners, and lip color.

Lip primers vs. lip liners!  They can be used interchangeably to some degree, but lip primers are often more smoothing, colorless, and work more to improve color adhesion and ease of application by actually improving the canvas (your lips!) that you’re applying to.

Lip liner, which is a classic product type, can be used to add definition to the shape of your lips while preventing your favorite lipstick from feathering or bleeding outside your lip line, and can also be used to fill-in to alter your natural lip color or give a base for your lipstick to adhere to.  When lip liner is used all-over, it gives your lipstick more texture to adhere to, and it adds more product that has to be worn away before it needs to be applied.  Using a lip liner is typically comfortable enough to wear all day and gives longer results than a lipstick alone.

PRO TIP! If you have dry lips, you may find you have to experiment with the types of lip liners that work for you as some can be quite stiff–almost sharp–a less forgiving of flakes and dryness.  If you need something smoother, creamier, you’ll want to look for a more silicone-heavy formula. Check out our readers’ recommendations for hydrating lipstick formulas here.

MAC Powder Kiss Lipsticks

Step 2: Choose Your Formula Carefully

Depending on your tolerance for less-hydrating to somewhat-drying lip products, there are some formulas that are just better-wearing than others.  The more matte a lip color is naturally, the better adhesion and longer wear it is on average.  The flip side is that creamier, more emollient lip products tend to wear away faster (but are often more comfortable and forgiving of lip texture).

It’s often a delicate balancing act of how much hydration and long-term comfort we’re willing to give up for a budge-proof lip color.  If you need stellar wear for upwards of eight hours, I highly recommend opting for a satin, semi-matte, or matte finish.  If you can tolerate ultra-matte, liquid lipsticks (see readers most recommended formulas here) that dry down (they begin liquid and then set in place) are some of the longest wearing lipsticks on the market, but they are often drying to non-drying.

If you have naturally dry lips, I would recommend going through the prep and application steps for getting the best and longest wear out of a formula that does offer more comfort, though. Matte, liquid lipsticks can often accentuate dryness or separate along lip lines, and I know that if my lips are drier, my lip lines are more noticeable to begin with.

Step 3: Apply Your Lipstick in Layers

The simple method is to apply using a lip brush initially, which allows you to get a thin, even layer of product all over the lips, and then to add a second layer by applying directly from the tube.  If you’re working with a creamier formula, I’d recommend picking one over the other or blotting gently before applying the second layer.

Alternatively, you can dust translucent powder on top of your lipstick, which can mattify the finish to some degree, but it helps to lock in the color.  To bring back the finish, apply a second layer with a lip brush or directly from the tube (depending on your needs and the formula you’re using), which will amp up the color a bit and the initial layer ends working as a base.

For more in-depth tips on how to apply lipstick, read this guide!

Plus, check out our top formulas for lipsticks and lipglosses!

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Great tips that I’ve been fortunate enough to have known about for many years! Lip primer is something I only learned about around 6 or 7 years ago, but it’s been a total game changer for smoothness and longevity. I learned one trick maybe 30 or so years ago; apply one coat of lipstick, blot with one ply of tissue, leaving the tissue in place, dust translucent powder over the tissue, remove and apply a second thinner coat of lipstick. I don’t know if anyone else still does this anymore, though?

I bet plenty of people still do but the popularity of liquid lipstick has gone a long way to paring down the steps (if you can tolerate those formulas).

I think Wayne Goss did a video a couple of years ago about this technique and I know that Lisa Eldridge has used it also . I have used it a few times and find it works great for me, also. Thanks for reminding me, Nancy.

Thank you, Christine. While I know these steps it is nice to be reminded as I don’t pay much attention to them on the daily but when I really take the time to apply my lipstick properly, these are the steps I follow. Frankly though, most days I just grab the bullet, smear it on and tap out the edges with my fingers and call it done!!

Great tips once again Christine. I wish I knew all of this when I was working, because I really did want to have my lipstick last longer than it did. Although nowadays there are much better lipsticks around. I find the Colour Pop ones last for quite awhile.

I’ve never used a lip primer, but it is definitely something I’ve been interested in trying out. Do you (or anyone else) have suggestions for ones to try that work and aren’t too drying… bonus points if it comes in a mini/travel size.

If you have a thinner, more translucent eyeshadow primer, you could try that on your lips. Make Up For Ever sells one of their primers that is for eyes and lips, so that’s where I got that idea – might be a way to try a lil’.

UD Ozone Primer Pencil is $18, Bite’s Line + Define Lip Primer is $22, Anastasia Lip Primer is $16, MAC Lip Primer is $19. Those are the ones I’m familiar with!

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