A Fool-Proof Guide to Wearing Dark Lipstick (with Videos!)

Using products and tools you probably already have in your bathroom, we're going to show you the seven simple steps to getting a perfect, long-lasting, wine-colored pout. Best of all? We used Instagram video to illustrate all of it. You legit can't mess this one up.
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Nora Crotty
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Using products and tools you probably already have in your bathroom, we're going to show you the seven simple steps to getting a perfect, long-lasting, wine-colored pout. Best of all? We used Instagram video to illustrate all of it. You legit can't mess this one up.

Photo: ImaxTree

Photo: ImaxTree

No one wants to admit it, but summer is almost over. Even if you don't feel ready to shell out your last month's earnings on a new fall wardrobe just yet, there is one surefire (and relatively cheap and non committal) way to update your look for autumn: Dark lipstick. You might think there's nothing to dark lipstick. Just buy it, swipe it, and you're done, right? WRONG. There are a few important steps you really need to follow in order to do it right. Because while a proper dark lipstick can be the delightfully dramatic icing on a fabulous outfit, an error in application can leave you looking like a crusty ole' fool.

That's why, using products and tools you probably already have in your bathroom, we're going to show you the seven simple steps to getting a perfect, long-lasting, wine-colored pout. Best of all? We used Instagram video to illustrate all of it so you can't mess up!

Ready to get in on the trend? Read on.

Step 1: Buff

This first step to getting flaw-free dark lips is also one of the most important. I don't care how moisturized you keep your lips on a daily basis--you need to buff them before you wear dark lipstick. You don't need any fancy products to slough it off--most of the time, I just use my St. Ives Apricot Scrub to do the deed in the shower while I'm washing off the rest of me. (Yes, everyone, I do wash.)

Alternatively, you can use your toothbrush to gently brush away the dry skin on your lips. Or, if you're a real stickler for the rules, you can go out and buy an actual, honest-to-god lip scrub.

Step 2: Line

In the battle against lipstick bleeding (i.e. those tiny cracks around your lips that fill with color and make your lip line look all fuzzy), using liner is essential. That said, it can also be really scary. As someone who changes up her lipstick on the daily, it seems like overkill to have to buy a different color lipliner for every single lipstick.

So I was pretty elated (no exaggeration here) when our dearly departed Cheryl suggested I try a clear lipliner. That very same day, I popped over to Sephora and picked up Make Up For Ever's Lip Line Perfector. From what I can tell, it's really just a wax pencil--but man oh man, this thing does wonders. Instead of lining the inside rim of your lips, you use it to trace the outside edge. You really can't mess this part up. And if you do, well... maybe you're a little too young to be wearing dark lipstick, let alone surfing the Internet without parental permission.

Step 3: Paint

Now, for the obvious part: Filling in your lips. You may want to start by gently blotting the insides of your lips (where it's wet) with a tissue to give the lipstick more of a surface to cling to--this is especially important when you're wearing dark lipstick.

For those of you who prefer a little more control, I recommend using a fairly stiff, narrow lip brush to paint it on. Since I'm a bold risk taker who fears nothing, I generally apply my lipstick straight from the tube--but then again, I'm one of those lucky ladies whose lipstick shape stays pretty much intact until the tube is finished. I think that makes it easier.

Since dark lipstick has a tendency to make lips look smaller, it's ok to exaggerate your natural lip line slightly--but obviously, don't go too far outside of the invisible liner you drew on before. (By the way, the shade I'm wearing here is Burberry Lip Velvet in Bright Poppy, which I highly recommend.)

Step 4: Blot

This step is pretty important in terms of getting your lipstick to last as long as possible. After you've colored in your lips, use a tissue (it can be the same one as before--yay, recycling!) to gently blot the color you've applied. Don't do it too forcefully or you'll end up with little white things on your mouth. As Paris Hilton would've said like, 10 years ago, NOT HOT.

Don't worry if your color's looking a bit dull now, because the next step is...

Step 5: Paint Again

Yep, you're going to put your dark lipstick on all over again. I know, you're totally psyched. Do it exactly like you did before, but without blotting afterwards. And you're looking like a total beb already, amiright? Just one more tiny step to go...

Step 6: Conceal

You can choose to forgo this last step, but for dark lip beginners in particular, I wouldn't recommend it. Using a small, stiff brush, paint your favorite concealer just around the outsides of your newly darkened lips to create a super clean border. This will give you even more of a barrier against the dreaded lip bleed. Blend the the concealer outwards into your skin, taking extra care not to draw your lipstick out with it. Once you're satisfied with the results...

Step 7: Set

Lightly dust some powder or bronzer or whatever it is you're planning on dusting on your face anyway over your lips. Et voila!