A bold lip can transform your entire face. If you rock a precise, pigmented, and mega-matte pout, you will appear majorly glam, even if the rest of your look is low key and minimalist. But a bold pucker can be seriously high maintenance and require touch ups, due to the texture, finish, and formula of the lip product, the shade itself, and whatever occasion has inspired you to go with a major, statement-making pout.
Here are nine foolproof and essential tips to crush a high-impact, wow-inducing lip. If you follow these rules, you so got this!
Choose your color & texture wisely
There are many steps that go into pulling off a bold lip. But before you prep, prime, and primp your pout, you need to choose your color and texture wisely— be it gloss, matte, or stain. This will be based on a variety of factors. First poll yourself, consider your makeup habits, and test drive the look in advance. MAC Cosmetics Senior Artist Keri Blair told us, “When choosing a bold lip, the best way to find your statement look is by trying it on.”
These are the things to consider when testing out shades, according to Blair. “Are you a foundation, blush, or eye makeup wearer? All of those finishing touches can affect the payoff of a bright or bold lip color,” she says.
Know what statement you want to make
Blair also suggests thinking about exactly what type of statement you want to make with your lip look. “If you want a color to pop as you walk into the room, try hues that offer a contrasting undertone to your skintone,” she says. “If you have a yellow undertone, try a blue-violet or blue-red lip color for the most impact. You will achieve a milder result, but you can choose something that has similar hues to your own skintone.”
You could adopt this approach if you are attending a wedding where you want to stand out, but not upstage the bride or her wedding party. Even if your lip color isn’t super audacious, the shape and texture can be.
Prep and prime lips properly
Once you know what type of bold look you are going for and have selected a flattering color that suits the occasion, you can proceed with creating it. But hold up: you can’t properly rock a power pout if you have flaky, chapped lips. Ick! You need to properly prep and prime lips before applying your color. That’s a must and there are no workarounds.
New York City-based makeup artist Samantha Lennon, who loves to create adventurous, look-at-me lips for her clients, suggests exfoliating lips with a soft bristle toothbrush and a sugar scrub. Gently pat your pout dry and then moisturize with a lip balm so that your canvas is supple. “You have to let the balm absorb into your lips so it can do its job and hydrate,” Lennon told us. “Then, blot away any leftover balm with a tissue. Finish by applying your matte color.”
Make lips appear fuller
Former Victoria’s Secret model Lindsay Ellingson, co-founder and creative director of Wander Beauty, gave us a two unique tips for making lips appear fuller, since a bold shade or finish looks even sexier when lips are plump and pouty. “I always mark my Cupid’s bow with an ‘X,’ but slightly overdraw my natural shape. I do the same to the lower center of my lip,” she told us. “This works great with a darker shade or a cooler magenta shade that will make your teeth appear whiter. After you finish filling in the lines, use a cream shadow in a champagne color on the center of your lips for subtle radiance and dimension.”
Ellingson also notes that when wearing a deeper-toned lipstick, like a black cherry hue, you should to keep a concealer stick or pencil nearby to correct any errors or errant strokes. She suggests “applying it before your lipstick, on the outside of your lip shape, to keep your lipstick in line. Or use it to conceal and correct any mistakes after application.” A bold lip has to be precise. Any bleeding or messes need to be fixed pronto, or the whole look will be off.
Always use lip liner
There is one non-negotiable element of a bold, va-va-voom lip. “You definitely need to use a liner that matches your lip color,” Lennon advises. “Liner is mandatory, since it keeps the look clean and prevents lipstick from bleeding into fine lines. It also acts as a guide when you trace your lips with it. You don’t want a power lip to look messy. In fact, a bold lip has to look perfect.”
Whereas a clear or pale pink gloss is usually swipe and go, a bold, deep lip has to be flawlessly traced and filled in. Kimara Ahnert, an NYC-based makeup artist with her own studio, also recommends lining lips “with a wide line, like you are starting to fill in [the] lip, but not.”
Apply with a lip brush
“Apply lip color with [a] brush” is Ahnert’s other core tip for achieving a head-turning lip. Indeed, utilizing this tool will give you better control so that your pucker isn’t messy, or so lipstick doesn’t migrate above the lip line or stick to your teeth. It’s all about the details, details, details with a daring lip.
Take inspiration from a look you love
Don’t be afraid to look for sources of inspiration and just go with it. Lennon says, “Whether it’s something you see in a magazine or in a YouTube video, if a lip look draws you in and is memorable, try and find that same color or replicate it. Trust your instincts.”
She also encourages you to “give it a shot” when it comes to a bright or strong shade you wouldn’t normally choose. It’s just lipstick — you can wipe it off, start over, or switch to another color tomorrow.
Keep the rest of your makeup low key
Ahnert also recommends keeping the rest of your face low-key when paired with a bold lip, since you don’t want to overdo it or have two features competing with each other. “Your bold lip should brighten your eyes and skin, not drain you,” Ahnert said. “While a bold lip requires precise application, it should be balanced by a flawless face. A bold lip looks stunning paired with minimal makeup. Don’t confuse minimal [with] no makeup, though.”
That means keep skin clean and fresh, while defining and grooming the brows. “Have [your] face look flawless with defined brows, mascara, concealer, matte foundation and a pale peach or pale pink matte blush to the apple of cheek,” Ahnert said.
Pair with sculpted cheeks
You can also do a sculpted cheek with your bold lip, according to Blair. “To pull off a lip statement without saying a word, pair a bold lip with a more minimal eye and a sculpted cheek. This keeps the focus on your pout and doesn’t send mixed messages about the statement you are trying to make,” she suggests.
No matter if you go for velvety matte in a vampy shade, or you opt for glossier than a disco ball, bold lips are a fun way to play with makeup. You can always go back to a more neutral, every day pout tomorrow.
Whether it’s for a formal event, a date, or a night out with the girls, anyone can totally pull off a bright, impactful lip. Rock any or all of these tips for a powerhouse pucker.