Finally Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Your Fine Lines

Here’s the routine I use to keep my lipstick from bleeding into my fine lines. It may seem like a lot of steps but, in reality, maybe I’ve added two minutes to my morning routine. That’s two minutes I’m happy to spend if it helps me avoid looking like I applied my lipstick in complete darkness.

Oh, the joys of growing older. I’m so much wiser than I was at 20, but it seems that each bit of wisdom came accompanied by a wrinkle or a blotchy mark on my skin.  In the last few years, I’ve developed some fairly deep vertical wrinkles above my lips and my lipstick seems to want to flow into them at the first opportunity. I would frequently check my makeup in the mirror at work only to discover that my lipstick, which I had crisply applied in the morning, was now a blurry mess across my face.

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I’m not going to stand for that! So I scoured the Internet for tips and did some experimentation of my own to solve the problem. Here’s the routine I landed on that has been working for me. It may seem like a lot of steps but, in reality, maybe I’ve added two minutes to my morning routine. That’s two minutes I’m happy to spend if it helps me avoid looking like I applied my lipstick in complete darkness.

Here’s what’s been working for me.

Are you sure it’s really your lipstick?

I was following every tip I found on the Internet only to still see significant redness above my upper lip and then one day it hit me: that redness wasn’t my lipstick. Years of ill-advised sun exposure during my misspent youth have left me with a red blotchy complexion. What I was seeing wasn’t entirely caused by my lipstick bleeding but was really just the redness of my skin bleeding through my foundation.

I solved this problem by adding a redness neutralizing cream from my new favorite cosmetics brand, IT Cosmetics (seriously their mascara is amazing!). After my sunscreen, I apply a bit of  Bye Bye Redness Neutralizing Correcting Cream to my upper lip area to cover my natural redness and it works like a charm.

Bye Bye Redness from It Cosmetics is perfect for neutralizing red blotchy skin over your upper lip.

Exfoliate and Soften Your Lips

Your lipstick wants to cling to a smooth canvas so twice a week or so, I exfoliate my lips with the Mary Kay Satin Lip Set. I tend to have very dry and flaky lips because of the antihistamine I take and the sugar scrub mask does an amazing job of getting rid of all the loose skin. Using the included lip balm after the scrub restores moisture to my lips and makes them super-soft.

If I don’t exfoliate, then I simply apply some lip balm to add some moisture to my lips. It’s important to apply just enough to soften them a bit, if you use too much, your lipstick will slide off your lips.

Mary Kay Satin Lips - keep my lips smooth so lipstick doesn't smear around

Lip Primer

This stuff is the key to keeping your lipstick where it belongs on your lips. I follow a tip I found from this video from Hot & Flashy and it works just great: rub your fingers across a lip primer like e.l.f. Lip Primer and Plumper and then apply sparingly along your lip line with your fingers. I usually wait for about 30 seconds to let that set before applying my lipstick.

Lip Liner

Your lip liner is another key step in keeping your lipstick where it needs to stay. Look at this cool tip for applying lip liner that I found on Pinterest:

Applying my lip liner like this really helps me put it on precisely. Genius! I like to use Revlon Colorstay Lipliner in Nude because it stays on really nicely and the color tends to match the lipstick colors I use. I’m not overly concerned about my liner and lipstick being matchy-matchy as long as they are in the same color family and don’t clash.

Apply Lipstick

I have acquired an impressive collection of lipsticks in my quest to find one that lasts a decent amount and stays put. Here are some of the ones that have worked for me.

  • Rimmel London Lasting Finish Lip By Kate Matte Collection. I don’t like sticky lips so I really appreciate this matte finish and it lasts forever. For $7.99, this can’t be beat.
  • Urban Decay Vice Lipstick. This is long-lasting and highly pigmented so it gives good even color.
  • stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick. Liquid lipsticks are a little funky. They go on like a gloss but then dry to a long-lasting finish. That means you need to be careful to get the application just right because any mistakes can be hard to remove. You also have to let it set before you move on to the next step. I like to let this one sit for about a minute before I move on to the next step. Sadly, this lipstick doesn’t really stay all day. so that’s a bummer, but it does provide a nice satiny-finish and doesn’t migrate to other areas of the face once you let it dry.
  • RIMMEL LONDON Provocalips 16Hr Kissproof Lip Colour. This stuff definitely does stay on all day and will still be around the next morning if you don’t remove it. This is my go-to lipstick when I want a strong, colorful lip. You need to take some care in applying it but once it’s set you don’t need to think about it all day.

Blot Your Lips Like Your Mother Used to Do

The only makeup my mom wore was a bright red lipstick she thoughtfully applied every time she left the house. She’d carefully apply the first coat and then press her lips on a piece of tissue to make a perfect lip print before applying the second coat. As a kid, I thought this whole ritual was impossibly glamorous but then I started wearing makeup during the lip-gloss crazy seventies and two coats of lip gloss would smear all over your face and make your lips stick together.

Lip gloss slides into my wrinkles now so the days of swiping on a layer of gloss with my finger are long gone and I’ve discovered that if I want my lipstick to stay on I need to blot as well. Blotting removes the excess product so your second coat goes on smoother. You don’t want to press your lips hard on a tissue, all you need is gently tap them against a tissue or blotting paper.

Wait Before Eating or Drinking

This is the hardest step for me. I used to put on all my makeup, including my lipstick, and then head down to breakfast. Or I’d grab a drink on the way out the door to the car. But if I wait a good 30 minutes before having anything to drink, my lipstick won’t bleed.

Finding the Best Lipstick for You

If you want to get the low-down on which lipsticks work best for women over 40, check out this series of videos from Hot & Flashy. She’s tested and reviewed tons of lipsticks and her recommendations are spot on.


What tips do you have to stop lipstick bleeding in your fine lines? Let me know if the comments.

Pin for Later

Lipstick bleeding or feathering as you get older? These tips can keep your lipstick in place and help it last longer.


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