Home How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Lip Wrinkles and Smoker's Lines

How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Lip Wrinkles and Smoker’s Lines

As we age, our lipstick can begin to feather and bleed into wrinkles around our mouth, especially the “smoker’s lines” – the vertical lines above our lips. Fortunately, it’s easy to learn how to stop lipstick bleeding. Read on for a comprehensive tutorial on applying your lipstick to flatter over 40 lips and to keep it in place without feathering or bleeding.

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

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 beside my mouth that my lipstick seems to want to flow into them at the first opportunity. I used to 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.

Fortunately, it turns out that it’s actually really easy to learn how to stop lipstick bleeding and feathering simply by changing a few things about how you apply it. I also found the perfect no-budge lipstick that will flatter over-40 lips and will never, ever budge.

Here’s a YouTube video with detailed instructions of what’s been working for me. If you’ve got questions or comments, let me know in the comments!

How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding

How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Wrinkles
Watch this video on YouTube.

Products in this Video

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Step 1: Make sure your lips are moisturized and exfoliated

If your lips are dry and flaky, your lipstick can’t adhere to your lips and it won’t stay on.

My new favorite skin product is this Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. I’ve been using it for the last two weeks and I’ve seen major changes in how dry and flaky my lips are. I apply it at night when I remove my makeup and my lips still feel soft and moist the next morning.

How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Lip Wrinkles and Smoker's Lines 1
Moisturize your lips each night to keep them smooth and flake-free

I’m sure my lips will continue to improve as I use this product, but I imagine I’ll always have a problem with dry and flaky lips because I have year-round allergies and the antihistamines I take every day make my skin super dry. So I exfoliate my lips every morning.

Once or twice a week, I’ll use the Mary Kay Satin Lip Mask to really get that skin off and on other days, I’ll use the E.L.F. lip exfoliator before applying lip balm to moisturize my newly smooth lips.

How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Lip Wrinkles and Smoker's Lines 2
Exfoliate your lips before applying lipstick to give your lipstick a smooth surface to cling to

Step 2: Cover any redness in the skin around your lips

I thought I was doing everything right, only to notice that the area above my lips looked red and blotchy by mid-morning. 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 with broken veins. What I was seeing above my lips wasn’t 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.

How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Lip Wrinkles and Smoker's Lines 3

A little of this stuff goes a long way – you only need a tiny dot. After I’ve put on the product, I press it into my skin with a small blending sponge.

How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Lip Wrinkles and Smoker's Lines 4

Step 3: Apply Lip Liner

In my quest to learn how to stop lipstick bleeding, I learned lip liner is really the most important thing you do to keep your lipstick where it needs to stay. I have pretty deep wrinkles to the side of my mouth so I want to make sure that I keep my liner away from the edges of my mouth or my lipstick will bleed into those wrinkles and look messy.

I apply my lip liner with my mouth closed so I can clearly see where the wrinkles start and avoid them.

I’m not a huge fan of overdrawing your lips because if you take it too far then that also can cause your lipstick to bleed, but you can see below that I overdraw my bottom lip ever-so-slightly to try to bring back some of the fullness that I’ve lost over the years.

how to stop lipstick bleeding - use lip liner to keep lipstick from straying outside your lips
Before lip liner and after lip liner

In general, I try to use a liner that matches my natural lip color. I’m currently loving the Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Dolly Danger because it’s almost a perfect match for my lips. (I’m wearing a brighter lip liner than the Dolly Danger color in the picture above so the liner would show up better in the photo.

How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Lip Wrinkles and Smoker's Lines 5

After I outline my lips, I fill them in with the lip liner so it acts as a primer for my lipstick.

Step 4: Time to Finally Apply Lipstick!

I’ve found that liquid lipstick stays in place on your lips much better than creamy formulas and I’ve also found that you can find amazing lipsticks right at your local drug store.

Simply apply your lipstick while being careful to not apply outside the lip liner.

How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Lip Wrinkles and Smoker's Lines 6

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Step 5 (Optional): Blot Your Lips and Reapply

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.

This is an optional step that I normally only do when I’m going to be out for a long time or if I really care about looking glamorous.

How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Lip Wrinkles and Smoker's Lines 7

Step 6 (Really Optional): Outline Your Lips with Concealer

I seriously only do this on very special occasions, but if you really want to learn how to stop lipstick bleeding, you should know that this step really works. If you want to highlight your lips so they stand out more (great for thin lips) or make sure there’s absolutely no way this lipstick is going to bleed, then use a very small brush and outline your lips with concealer.

How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Lip Wrinkles and Smoker's Lines 8

Once I’ve outlined my lips, I press the concealer into my skin with a tiny blending sponge until it’s blended with the rest of my makeup.

How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Lip Wrinkles and Smoker's Lines 9

Step 7 (Not Optional): 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. And then I’d be shocked when I got to work and saw that my lipstick had smeared everywhere.

I try to wait at least 30 minutes before having anything to drink because then I can feel confident that my lipstick is dry and will stay put.

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What about you? Do you have in tips to share to help learn how to stop lipstick bleeding? Let us know in the comments!

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How to Stop Lipstick Bleeding into Lip Wrinkles and Smoker's Lines 10

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Katy Kozee | Midlife Rambler
Katy Kozee | Midlife Rambler
Hi! I'm Katy and I started Midlife Rambler when my youngest child was a senior in high school. I was staring at the coming empty nest and wondering what was next for me. Does that sound like you? Then you'll love our community of fun, feisty women. We're looking forward to the next phase of our lives and talking about all the exciting (and sometimes a little scary!)Keep the conversation going! Hook up with me at my other hangouts.



  1. Thanks so much for the tips! I am going to try them right away! Heads up, there is a typo where “feel” in your lips should be “fill” in your lips. 😉

    Thanks again!

    • Thanks, Lesa! I love those earrings so much that I actually remember where I got them. They came from a store called & Other Stories. I just took a quick look at their site and unfortunately, it looks like they don’t carry them any longer, but they have lots of cool earrings.


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