Lip Tips
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Lip Tips

Start-to-finish tips to get the most kissable lips.

Prepping Lips

Sonia Kashuk Real Beauty
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Sonia Kashuk

They smile. They speak. They kiss (as often as possible)! Our lips are one of the major ways we communicate with the world. Want proof of their importance? Just look in your own makeup bag. Most likely, lip products outnumber everything else 2 to 1.

Read on for instructions on creating various lip looks: shiny or matte, sheer or opaque, subtle or bold. You'll also learn the secret to long-wearing lip color. But first off, here's my No. 1 beauty tip for lips: live life with few frowns and lots of laughter.

Lips are the best place on your face to experiment with different looks. Even a flub won't disrupt the rest of your makeup. If something doesn't work, wipe it away with a bit of cleaner and start again.

Prepping Lips

Always keep conditioner on your lips, even when you're not wearing color. If they get dry or flaky, brush them with a soft toothbrush to remove excess skin (do this gently, in little circles). Lips should be as smooth as possible for the application of any color.

I begin every makeup application with a bit of lip balm or lip cream on the lips. It absorbs while I do concealer, foundation, and powder. When I move back to the lips, they're conditioned and ready for color.

No matter what lip look you're after, use a lip brush. It gives you 100 percent better control. A good brush will form a nice point, which makes it easy to get into the corners of your mouth, and it also helps draw a straight line.

In general, when you wear a strong lip color, it's best to keep the rest of the face soft. And vice versa. Choose one feature to be the focus. Strong mouth, soft eye. Strong eye, soft mouth. Here's a look I love: color on the lips and cheeks -- with nothing but foundation on the eyes!

The dryer the lip product, the longer the wear. Lip gloss = shortest wear. Matte color (especially pencils) = longest wear. A lot of looks use a combination of products. And sometimes one will wear off before the other. I'll tell you how to minimize that later!

Application How-To

For the softest, easiest look, use lip gloss with or without lip pencil. This gives you the sheerest veil of color, letting your natural lip color come through. Lip gloss over a liquid cheek/lip stain works, too. All you'll have to reapply is the gloss, because the stain stays on until it's washed off.

For a little more color that's still very soft, use a lipstick or lip sheer. Always start in the center of the mouth, working your way out toward the lipline, with soft brush strokes that keep the lipline undefined. A subtle shade's best for this technique -- something that blends into your own lip color at the edges.

For a more defined mouth, first line and fill in the entire lip with pencil, then add lipstick in a matching color. Tip: If you aren't good at staying in the lines with your lipstick, you can avoid the edges as long as your lipstick color matches your pencil color, because you already have a pencil line there.

To create a perfect lip line, take a little foundation and put it just over the edge of your lips, not over your whole mouth. This gives you a clean surface to work with, and creamy foundation helps pencils glide easily.

Then, with a lip pencil, go from each corner of the mouth toward the center. Follow these four points (pick any order and stick with it): top left to center, top right to center, bottom left to center, bottom right to center. Steady your hand if you need to. This "four point" method is the easiest way to be symmetrical (whether your mouth is or not).

Once the outline's penciled in, fill in your whole mouth with pencil. Filling in gives you an even layer of color across the lips and much longer wear. After filling in, take your lip brush and go all over the lip to make sure the pencil color's evenly placed.

For really amazing wear, set the layer of lip pencil with a dusting of powder (dust right over the pencil, or put a tissue over the lips and dust over that). Then, you can apply a cream lipstick or a gloss on top of the pencil.

The Right Color

Lips don't lie. The natural pigmentation of your lips is the underlying tint of every lip color you wear. That's why the same lip product can look different on you and your friends.

Most brown-based lip colors look more natural, even when the color's deep: a brownish red is easier to wear and looks softer than a bluish red.

You can get many different tones and textures out of one tube of lipstick. If you want blue-toned lipsticks to look browner (and more natural), start with a brownish lip pencil over the entire lip, then add the lipstick on top of that. These layers of color create a new shade.

If you want your lips pale, cover them with a sheer coating of foundation, then apply a light color. This is also the way to get the truest color from any lip product, as it minimizes your natural lip color.

You can also control the finish. To make a creamy or shiny lip color go matte, blot with a tissue or dust lips with powder. To add shine to a matte mouth, brush lip gloss (clear or pearly) over your lipstick.

Going out in the evening? Add a hint of shimmer over your daytime lip look.

Solutions for Lip Problems

Eating Your Lipstick

It's not on the menu, but most of us have had it with our meals. You know how your lipstick comes off when you eat and you're left with only a pencil line around your lips? This happens because pencils are dryer (and longer wearing) than lipsticks. So if you outline with pencil, then fill in with only lipstick, the lipstick wears away first.

To avoid this a la carte lip lunch, fill the entire lip with pencil before adding your layer of lipstick. Now the color will wear more evenly.

Lopsided Lips

Pencils can be used to correct less-than-perfect lips shapes. Note: when reshaping the lips, creamy or matte finishes are preferable because they'll help disguise a newly drawn lipline. Always outline first, then fill in with the pencil.

Small Upper Lip and a Full Lower Lip

Use a sharpened lip pencil to draw slightly up and out from the two corners of your upper lip as you move toward the center, extending the natural lip line a bit.

Full Upper Lip and a Small Lower Lip

Use a sharpened lip pencil to draw slightly down and out from the two corners of your bottom lip, as you move toward the center.

Large Lips

Stay with softer colors and keep the application just inside the natural lipline, keeping the edges soft.

Thin Lips

Stick with soft and medium tones, avoid strong colors.

For the Perfect Pout

Use a lighter color or dab a shine in the center of the mouth. Note: to be convincing, all these applications must be subtle!

Sonia Kashuk's book, Real Beauty, is available at bookstores nationwide.