Chances Are, You're Applying Your Liquid Lipstick Wrong

When liquid lipsticks burst onto the main stage a few years ago, it was as though all our long-wear prayers had been answered. These fluid formulas have the opacity of traditional lipsticks, but last even longer, and most (but not all) tend to come with a matte, budge-proof finish. We no longer needed to do constant touch-ups using our phone's reverse camera; we could kiss, eat, drink, even get caught in a rain shower without an umbrella (take my word for it) and not need to worry about a smeared mess.

Since liquid lipsticks have risen to beauty fame, just about every brand — from Milani to Kat Von D — has created its own version of the popular product. And, of course, Kylie Jenner has played one of the biggest roles in their success. But despite their ubiquity, liquid lipsticks aren't the most intuitive to use — they require their own beauty education. So, in an effort to demystify the magic sticks, we asked two professional makeup artists to share their best practices for wearing these formulas. Sure, it's not as easy as swiping on a balm, but it's well worth the extra effort.

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1. Prep is key.
Most liquid lipsticks have a matte finish, meaning they can be drying throughout the day. That's why makeup artist Katie Mellinger always preps his clients' lips before going in with a liquid formula.

"You want to make sure your lips are moisturized, but not too moisturized," she says. First, Mellinger exfoliates the lips to get rid of any flakes or rough patches. "Next, I apply a lip balm that is moisturizing but not too greasy," she says. Once the lip balm has had some time to sink in, it's time to go in with the liquid. If you want to go the extra mile, smooth on a lip primer, too. Mellinger's favorite? Bite's Line & Define Lip Primer.

Milani Amore Matte Metallic Lip Crème in Obsession, $8.99, available at Milani.
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2. Resist the urge to rub your lips together.
Many people have learned through years and years of traditional lipstick use that rubbing the lips together helps distribute the product. When it comes to liquid formulas, though, that isn't always the case.

"Liquid lipsticks are kind of like paints," says makeup artist Andre Sarmiento. "You have time to achieve great application, but once they dry, they become harder to blend." Because of this, if you rub your lips together, you'll likely disturb the drying process and create streaking or patchiness. "Not only is that hard to blend out, it will likely [cause the product] to dry that way," Sarmiento adds. Instead, paint the lipstick onto your lips and don't move your mouth for a minute or two. If you must blend, softly pat your lips with your fingertip.

Huda Beauty Liquid Matte Lipstick in Video Star, $20, available at Sephora.
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3. Bring in backup.
Once a liquid lipstick is set, there's no going back. That means if you mess up your lip line, the product won't budge unless you remove it. "The biggest mistake I see people make is relying on the applicator alone to create a finished lip line," says Sarmiento. "The flocked applicator just doesn't give you the precision you need to create a sharp line."

Reaching for a lipliner or lip brush (Sarmiento recommends Smith Cosmetics' 212 Tightliner Brush) can easily fix this problem. "Use a lipliner in a complementary shade or [slightly deeper] shade to define and even reshape the lip," says Sarmiento. "I also like tapping all around the edge of the lip with my finger to soften and blend the liquid lipstick into the lipliner."

That doesn't mean you can't use the applicator to line your lips, though. Mellinger suggests rolling off the excess product from the wand onto the back of your hand before applying. Once your applicator is clean, it will be easier to achieve crisp lines.

Jouer Long-Wear Lip Crème Liquid Lipstick in Praline, $18, available at Jouer Cosmetics.
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4. Use less product than you think.
"One mistake is using too much product," says Mellinger. "It's better to start with a smaller amount and then add as needed, especially because some [liquid formulations] tend to set or dry quickly."

To fix this, simply wipe off excess product into the top of your lipstick tube or onto the back of your hand. Once your wand is rid of excess product, you can go straight onto your lips without fear of a gloopy mess.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss in Tara, $16, available at Sephora.
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5. Don't layer liquid lipstick over liquid lipstick.
"The idea behind liquid lipsticks is that they are meant to last, so they dry down completely on the lips," says Sarmiento. "This doesn't really set you up for success in the reapplication department." In other words, they dry down completely matte, so when you apply the same product over one coat later, it can look clumpy or crusty.

There are a few options if you want to reapply your liquid lipstick, the first of which involves removing the product and starting from scratch. If that's not your cup of tea, Sarmiento relies on other lip products to do the job. "I normally use liquid lipstick as insurance for whatever I layer over it," he says. Glosses and even traditional lipsticks layer beautifully over liquid lippies because of their more emollient consistencies. If you want to maintain the exact finish and shade of your liquid lip, though, he suggests dipping your finger into the product and lightly tapping it over the areas that need love. "By doing this, you're just tinting the areas that have faded without creating more texture by using the product at full strength," he says.

Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Project Chimps, $20, available at Sephora.
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6. Banish lip balm.
"Lip balms will break down liquid lipsticks," says Mellinger. "Especially those that contain natural oils." Rather than layering a lip balm over your liquid lipstick, focus on your prep by applying a matte lip balm (like this one) under your lipstick for extra hydration.

ColourPop Ultra Satin Lip in Marshmallow, $6, available at ColourPop.
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