How to Apply Bold Lipstick the Right Way

red hot pink lipstick

Wearing bold lipstick is one of my favorite beauty “tricks.” It takes less than a minute to apply, and gives me the freedom to go next-to-nothing on the rest of my face (after all, I’m not going for the clown look). The end result is looking completely put together, while shaving precious minutes off of my morning routine.

There’s nothing like a bold lipstick to make a statement—but there’s also nothing like poorly applied bold lipstick to turn heads for all the wrong reasons. Whether you’re finally taking the plunge and made this the year that you’ll rock a bold lip, or you have a few bold lipsticks in your arsenal that just don’t look as good on your face as it does in the tube, this is your guide to rocking a bold lip the right way.

RELATED: How to Pick the Best Lip Colors for Your Skin

Remember that your bold lipstick of choice is the main event, the star of the show. It shouldn’t be in competition with your eye makeup or blush. The key is to create balance; keep the other areas neutral. With that in mind, go for a hue that does your skin tone justice. Are you after a movie-star red? A sexy pink? A shock of violet? Opt for a shade that flatters and keep these guidelines in mind.

1. Use a concealer. A lip cover-up is a dynamic product with a creamy texture that provides a smooth canvas for your lipstick, prevents bleeding, and encourages staying power. Dab it on with a brush and use your finger to fully cover the lip line, moving inward until your mouth is concealed with the flesh-toned color.

2. Dip your toe in carefully. If you’re venturing into colors unfamiliar, you may not want to go all out at first. Try a gloss that adds a little punctuation mark to your look without actually drawing attention away from everything else.

3. Strive for balance. You aren’t Nikki Minaj—the key is to play up just one feature and keep the rest to a minimum. With bold lips, your eye makeup should be light and neutral (a soft beige or pale champagne works well). Keep blush in the same family, using a light hand to maintain a soft glow.

4. Precision is key. There’s a certain commitment that goes with wearing bold lipstick, and it should be honored with precise application. Do NOT skip the lip liner. Opt for pencil lipsticks to achieve a perfect pout within the lines. Or use a brush to pick up color from a tube. Start at the center of your mouth and move outward for a natural finish.

5. Slough away. Nothing is more cringe-worthy than flaky lips exacerbated by a bright lip color. Try one of the lip exfoliators on the market (my favorite is Fresh Sugar Lip Polish, $24) or pull a DIY—simply scrub a toothbrush over your lips and follow up with a moisturizing balm to keep lips perpetually soft.

6. When in doubt, go for red. If you’re on the fence about what bold color to try first, stick to classic red. A deep red instantly enhances brightness and gives the illusion of a whiter smile. It’s easy to tone down, too, with the addition of a soft pink or metallic gloss. Either one will soften your lips considerably, yet still allow you to show off the intensity of the underlying hue.

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