Everything You Need To Know For An Expert Matte Lipstick Application

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Matte lipstick is beautiful but fickle. Because it lacks shine, it can be quite unforgiving. Every small inconsistency in its application can show. And techniques you might use when applying satin lipstick, for example, such as smacking your lips together to even your coverage, can often produce an adverse effect, like, streaking or patchiness, per MasterClass. Applying matte lipstick like an expert requires several steps, including priming, lining, applying the product with finesse, and ensuring that you touch up any potential unevenness. Sound like a lot of work? We promise it's worth it for flawless lips that last all day. 


Applying matte lipstick does have some similarities to how you should apply liquid lipstick, in particular, that it requires precision. But like most makeup applications, there is nuance involved, and what feels best and works best for you is always the way to go. 

Priming the lips

Let's get this out of the way: When it comes to prepping your lips, you can skip the lip sugar scrub. Yes, they definitely had a moment a few years ago. Remember when people just ended up eating the pots of Jeffree Star-flavored sugar scrubs? Despite being proliferated on the market, dermatologists now warn against them. In fact, dermatologists say scrubbing is the exact opposite step your lips need when they are dry or cracking. According to a press release by dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross, cited by Byrdie, "In order to heal dry, chapped lips, you need to repair that barrier, not scrub it off. When you use a scrub, you're removing the protective outer layer of the lips, leaving them even more compromised." Ensuring your lips are smooth is important when applying matte lipstick, as the product tends to accentuate any cracks in your lips. 


Because healing your lips can take time, this means that much of the prep work happens before you're ready to put on your matte lipstick. Matte lipstick tends to feel drier than, for example, a gloss. But in a pinch, you can put on a lip mask overnight, or hydrate your lips while you do the rest of your makeup to give them time to soak in moisture, according to celebrity makeup artist Judi Gabbay (via Byrdie). 

And for a smooth pout, you can exfoliate your lips without a scrub.

Lining the lips

Think of lip liner as the outline of a drawing: Once it's applied, it will be easier to color in the lines. This is especially important when applying matte lipstick, as the shape of your lips will look pronounced without any sheen to the product. Wearing a nude lip liner, or one that matches closely to the natural shade of your lips, can work well with any lipstick shade, per Byrdie. Plus, it just makes life easier. Otherwise, you can look for a lip liner shade that matches as closely to your matte lipstick as possible. According to makeup artist Dakota Alexandra, you could even go a shade or two deeper than your chosen product to add depth to an otherwise monotone look (via Byrdie). Instagram user and makeup artist @shiney_makeup uses a lip liner that matches her matte shade to ensure her lips look shapely. You can also line your lips with a matte eyeshadow. 


Then, you can decide on the lip shape you're going for, and line accordingly. You can even overline for fuller, natural-looking lips. Now, you are ready to apply. 

Applying the lipstick

Because matte lipsticks tend to dry fast, a quick and precise application is key. With a matte liquid lipstick, take the applicator and swipe it across your top and bottom lips just one time — no more, no less — and let the product dry. With a cream matte lipstick, apply the product and carefully press your lips together to distribute the product, per MasterClass. TikTok user @jasminedaraphet gently dusts a setting powder on her lips before applying it to ensure the product clings to the lips evenly. After lining her lips, she goes in with the Mac Powder Kiss Lipstick in shade "Mull it Over," and the look is complete. You can also use a small brush to paint on your lipstick shade, which may help you cover the contours of your lips. 


Look for a matte lipstick that has some kind of moisturizing element so the formula feels comfortable. While cream matte lipsticks might be easier to re-apply than liquid lipsticks, there is still a way to touch up your matte liquid lipstick if you need to. First, assess whether or not you need a full coat. If so, it's best to wipe it off and start again to avoid cracks, unevenness, or caking of the formula, per Glowsly. But if your lipstick still looks salvageable, strategically place more product in the areas of your lips that could use a retouch, dabbing the product in with your finger if need be. 

Touching up your matte lipstick

Because matte lipstick can be pretty unforgiving to mistakes — and we are not doubting your skills! — it is wise to know how to clean up your matte lipstick post-application so you can achieve that flawless look every time. Instagram user and makeup artist @polyfrenzy uses Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint in the shade "Unveil" to achieve this masterful, even pout. 


Here, concealer will be your best friend. First, look in the mirror with your head tilted up slightly. Does the shape of your lips look even? Or does one side of your lips look slightly more drawn out than the others? If it does, take a small brush with a touch of concealer and ever-so-gently trace over any excess product that has gone outside the lines, blending it outward. 

Once you have a shape you're happy with, trace around the rest of your lips with a little concealer to accentuate the look of your lips and blend it in well, per Byrdie

Then, brushing around your lips with a dust of finishing powder can help set the concealer in place. 

Taking off your matte lipstick

As the saying goes, all good things must come to end. But if you've ever worn matte, liquid lipstick before, you will know that sometimes the end doesn't come so easily! Because they are designed to stick, matte lipsticks can be difficult to take off. And instead of scrubbing your lips to smithereens, here is an easier and safer way to take off your matte lipstick at the end of the day. 


First, you could try Vaseline, per Instyle. After applying a coat of Vaseline to your lips, let it sit for a minute before wiping it off gently with a warm cloth. Then, repeat until the product is gone. 

You could also try a makeup remover, such as the Charlotte Tilbury Take It All Off remover, available online at Sephora. This three-in-one product is formulated for your lips, eyes, and face, so you get the most from it. 

Or, you could try a product specifically for removing lip products, such as the Jaclyn Cosmetics Pout Off Nourishing Lipstick Remover, available at Ulta. Simply apply the product over your lips and swipe it off with a clean, warm cloth. The best part is that it is full of moisturizing ingredients such as vitamin E and aloe vera, so your lips will feel soft and nourished. And the reviews are rave. "This product is amazing! It is so much quicker and less messy than using regular makeup remover," one buyer wrote.