How Do I Make My Lipstick Last Forever When Nothing Else Does?

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Because there’s no such thing as a dumb beauty question, we’re reviving our beauty Q&A series

Question: I have lipstick fatigue. I put it on at 9 a.m., reapply it all day long, and have lip burn by 5 p.m. Also, the shape is never quite right. How do I make it stop? Am I expecting too much by wanting a lipstick that lasts from morning to evening? Should I settle?

Answer: In the words of Ask Polly, “You have to stop thinking in circles and start asking yourself what you want from your life.” Do you want brightly colored lips that don’t require constant support and maintenance? Do you want lips that won’t cower before coffee mugs, wine glasses, white dinner napkins, or cheeseburgers? YES? Here’s how you get that.

For advice, I turned to Ella Ceron, the Cut’s social-media editor, who has made lipstick so much a part of her game that her baristas take daily bets as to which color she will wear. Here is her five-step lipstick insurance policy: (1) Get a lip primer. (2) Line your lips. (3) Apply lipstick. (4) Set with powder. (5) Apply lipstick again. It seems like an extensive process, but she says, “I do this because I’m lazy and don’t want to reapply.” She also only chooses lipsticks that she knows to be “Stage-Five Clingers.”

Step 1: Yes, lip primer is a thing — it gives the lipstick something to adhere to, aside from your lips. Ceron uses Buxom True Nude Lip Foundation. Celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg, whose clients include Rashida Jones, also likes Bite Beauty Line and Define Lip Primer.

Step 2: Choose a lip liner in the same color family as your lipstick. Be sure to line not just the edges of your lips but your whole lip — this is yet another layer of pigment for the lipstick to adhere to. Try something like M.A.C Pro Longwear Lip Pencil.

Step 3: Apply your first layer of lipstick and don’t forget to blot off the excess.

Step 4: Now for the Pat McGrath trick, which is also endorsed by M.A.C cosmetics director of makeup artistry Romero Jennings: Blot twice. Take a piece of tissue and gently place it over your lips, then use a brush and lightly dust your lips over the tissue with a translucent powder (Laura Mercier makes a good one). The powder will help set your lipstick, and the tissue will keep it from getting all over your lips. Make sure that you’re pressing the color into the lips through the tissue.

Step 5: Apply your second layer of lipstick. To make sure you have a real clinger on your hands, consider the formula. Greenberg says that in order of longevity, it’s matte, cream, liquid, and then gloss. Ceron’s favorite Stage-Five Clinger lipsticks include NARS Audacious, Tom Ford Lip Color (the darker tones, not the glittery ones), and M.A.C matte.

If you don’t want to do the full five-step routine, you can always do the first or second steps as prep before applying color, or the fourth or fifth steps only. Greenberg also likes to apply the lipstick over a liquid stain in the same color family, so that the color fades to a pretty stain as the day goes on.  You can dab a bit of gloss or balm over the lipstick if you want with your fingers, but don’t use a lip balm or else it will smear.

And if you really want to keep the process short, try one of these truly long-wearing lipsticks:

Make Up For Ever Aqua Rouge — a waterproof pick created for the Parisian Aquatic Ballet.

Lip Ink — loved by Dita Von Teese and porn stars.

Anastasia Beverly Hill Liquid Lipstick — “They stay on ‘til the cows come home,” says Greenberg.

Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick — I tried this on a shoot last week and I had to scrub so hard to remove it that I considered forgoing cardio later that night.

How Do I Make My Lipstick Last Forever?