Why your lipstick color doesn’t last

We talked to a beauty expert to find out why your lip color doesn’t last and what you can do to get the color you crave.

Woman applying lipstick

The problem: Dry skin soaks up lip stains and deeply pigmented colors, resulting in a patchy look. Flaky skin causes your lipstick to look uneven.

Celebrity makeup artist Marylin Lee keeps beauties like Brooke Burke looking camera ready. We picked her brain to find out how to make lipstick look better and last longer.


Moisturize your lips

C.O. Bigelow My Favorite Night Balm

“Keep lips moisturized by applying balm nightly at bedtime,” says Lee. During dry months, or if your lips are prone to flaking, use a deeply moisturizing overnight lip treatment. There’s no excuse to skimp on moisture. Overnight treatments won’t cost you an arm and a leg. We love C.O. Bigelow My Favorite Night Balm. Prefer natural lip moisturizers? Dab on a thin layer of coconut oil before bed. Wear a moisturizing tinted balm or moisturizing lipstick for everyday use, and keep balm in your handbag for spot applications when you feel your lips drying out. Always use a balm with sunscreen for extended time outdoors (C.O. Bigelow, $8).


Exfoliate your lips

Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Exfoliating Lip Salvation

Rough texture and flaky skin ruin the appearance of even the best lipstick or stain. Keep your lips smooth by exfoliating to remove dead skin. Lee recommends a simple sugar scrub. “Just gently scrub and wipe with a cloth, or rinse,” she says. You can make a sugar scrub in your kitchen by combining table sugar and your favorite oil, such as jojoba or coconut. If you’re daunted by DIY, try a scrub like Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Exfoliating Lip Salvation (Ole Henriksen, $15).


Prime your lips

Mac Prep + Prime Lip

Not every lip color needs primer, but if you’re going for a bold look and you expect long wear, a primer will help you achieve your lipstick’s maximum potential. “A lip primer creates a smooth and long-lasting application of lipstick,” says Lee, who adds that lip stains can also be primed. “Use a dab of lip balm or lip primer to moisturize, but allow it to absorb before applying stain. If the stain feels dry, top it off with gloss.” Lee recommends Mac Prep + Prime Lip (Amazon, $24).


Finesse your application

Girlactik Star Gloss

The way you apply your lip color has a lot to do with how long it stays put. “Use a lip liner and fill your lip in with it, and apply a high-pigmented gloss on top for extra shine, like Girlactik Star Gloss. One of my favorite colors is Babydoll, which looks great on everyone,” says Lee. “Another tip is to apply lipstick, blot with a single ply of tissue, lightly powder, then apply another layer of lipstick” (Girlactik.com, $18).

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