Bold lipstick is striking but can be intimidating to DIY. These three tricks make it doable—and keep the look neat.

By Heather Muir Maffei
Updated September 20, 2019
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Red Lips, Step 1: Apply scrub
Credit: Natasia Hanratty

1 Apply lip scrub

Red lips don’t have to be complicated. But, full disclosure, they do require a little effort. First buff your lips in a circular motion with a sugar scrub, like Lush Bubblegum Lip Scrub ($11; This gently removes dry skin that will look worse coated in color. Tissue off, then apply a dot of foundation with a sponge to make sure the lipstick’s true color shines through.

RELATED: 9 Classic Red Lipsticks with a Cult Following

Red Lips, Step 2: Trace lips
Credit: Natasia Hanratty

2 Trace lips with liner

Trace your lips with a liner; a freshly sharpened pencil makes this easier and helps lips appear cleaner. Berry reds are great for fair complexions, orange-based reds suit medium skin, and wine and brick reds complement dark skin. Marc Jacobs Beauty (P)outliner Longwear Lip Liner Pencil in Currant Mood 308 ($25; has universally flattering blue undertones.

Red Lips, Step 3: Fill in lips
Credit: Natasia Hanratty

3 Fill in lips

Fill in your lips with the liner. This base will help lipstick last longer—and when it does wear off, you’ll still have some color beneath. Top with a lipstick in a similar shade. Instead of swiping the tube over lips, press for a more natural look. Erase any mistakes with a sponge (like Beautyblender, $20; and a dab of foundation.