How To Apply Red Lipstick That Stays Put

Lucille Ball with Red Lipstick

Lucille Ball with Red Lipstick

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wear red lipstick.  It’s an easy way to add instant retro glamour to any look and  perks up your complexion, especially if you’re fair skinned, like I am.

But it was through much trial and error over the years before I came up with my favorite way to apply it so that it stayed on.   Knowing how to apply properly, and what types of  red lipsticks work best, enables you to set out for a night of wining and dining without having to touch up constantly.

So here are some of my tips along with a few more from some other red lipstick wearing  gals.   You can experiment with which way works best for you.

Step 1- Foundation
I always start by applying some foundation to my lips.  You could also use a lip primer. That’s going to help create a base to which everything else will adhere.

Step 2- Lip Liner
I like to use a red lipliner pencil. You can use nude, but I find the red liner adds more depth to the red lipstick shade that will go over it.  First outline the lip, then completely fill it in with the lip pencil.  My favorite is the  Lip Liner  by Palladio.  It’s a retractable pencil, which I love, and has a nice creamy matte finish that stays in place, but is not too dry.

Step 3-  Lipstick Brush and Lipstick
A lipstick brush will give you much more control when applying your lipstick over your liner. With red lipstick you want to make sure you you have a defined lip line.  Using a brush helps immensely with this and it is perfect for shaping the lip outline as well, i.e. creating more of a pout.  I also opt for the retractable type so I can throw it in my purse.

As far as lipstick I have found that some types are much better for longevity than others.  Glosses and real creamy lipsticks are going to slide off at the first sip of a martini.   Lately the ones that work best for me are M.A.C. Lipsticks (Russian Red is a fav) and Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick. My current fav is Fiery, a beautiful true red.

With the MAC Lipstick,  I apply with the brush,  blot a bit of powder on lips, then apply a second coat. With the Stila, since it has a wand applicator, I apply, then use lipstick brush to even out and define lip edges.  With either of these my red color stays on pretty much all day or night!  The Stila is especially amazing. I’ve gone out for a full dinner and a couple of glasses of wine and that color has not budged.  The MAC sometimes will need a little touchup.

More advice from other gals who know a thing or two about rocking a red lip!

From the lovely and stylish Jessica of the Chronically Vintage Blog 

Jessica Cangiano

Jessica Cangiano of the Chronically Vintage Blog

A smooth canvas is key, especially with bold and/or dark lip colours, and since I’m prone to very dry lips, I’ll usually take a dry toothbrush and gently exfoliate my lips before I start. Once the skin is silky (or at least not rough as sandpaper! ;), I trace the natural lines of my lip with either a red or clear lip liner (in the case of the latter, such as Revlon’s Color Stay) and then fill them all the way in, too. If I’m out of liner or think I’ll be eating/drinking a lot before I reply my lipstick next, I’ll sometimes swap the liner for a red (as close to my lipstick hue as possible) lip stain instead.Then, either straight from the tub or with a lipstick brush (I’m keen on Clinique’s, but there are tons of great ones out there at all different price points), I apply an even layer of red lipstick all over (my red of choice is Russian Red from MAC). I blot gentle with a Kleenex, apply a light second layer of red lipstick, then blot once more and am good to go.”


From the stunning Pin Up Model Amanda Lee

Amanda Lee aka The Jitterbug Doll

Amanda Lee aka The Jitterbug Doll

“My favorite lipstick is a product called Lipsense. It is a sort of lacquer that you apply, let dry, and then top with a gloss. It’s very long-wearing and comfortable to wear (I describe it as a lacquer, but it   doesn’t feel heavy or sticky at all), and I love not having to worry about my lipstick fading, smearing, or bleeding. I wear the color Blu Red–Christina Aguilera wears the same shade, in fact. I first heard about the product when I read an interview with her.

 For traditional lipstick, my two tips are to outline and fill your lips with a matching lipliner, and to blot your lips after applying the lipcolor. I usually apply a layer of color, blot, apply a second layer of color, and blot again. You can also lightly dust translucent powder on your lips (over a sheet of tissue) to help lock the color in place even more. My favorite traditional lipstick shades are Besame Red Hot Red and Besame American Beauty. Revlon also makes some lovely reds that have been around since the 1950s.”

From Dollie Deville, pin up model and darling doll of the Rockabilly Socialite Blog
Dollie the Rockabilly Socialite

Dollie the Rockabilly Socialite

“My favorite lipstick is Red Hot Red by Besame. I read that it was a recreation of the color Marilyn Monroe wore. It has a nice med red tone, not too blue and not too orange. My tip for making lipstick last is to apply a matching liner underneath. Line the lips and fill them in. Then lipstick over that. I like to over line the outer edges of my top lip in a very heart shape. I don’t like the top lip too pointy! Another good trick is to apply translucent loose powder over your lipstick to set it, then apply another coat over that. Your lipstick will last forever! “


Anyone else with helpful tips on keeping your red lipstick lasting please fee free to share!

Have a glamorous day !

By | 2014-08-15T10:18:20-04:00 August 15th, 2014|Beauty|8 Comments

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Theresa, owner and chief classy dame at the Blue Velvet Vintage online boutique. Lover of mid century fashion and home decor, classic films, Old Hollywood, pretty dresses, red lipstick, swing dancing and retro culture in general. Between my ecommere site and vintage style blog my mission is to revive the eras of classy dressing and inspire women to add more glamour to their lives! So don't be shy! I love to hear from others who share my appreciation of the styles of the past.


  1. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell September 1, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Jessica, thank you so much for taking the time to contribute your helpful information 🙂

  2. Avatar
    Jessica Cangiano September 1, 2014 at 1:12 am

    It was such a special honour to be included in this lovely post, amongst such venerable company and wise advice. Thank you very much for including Chronically Vintage and I, dear Theresa, I sincerely appreciate it.

    Have a stellar Labour Day,
    ♥ Jessica

  3. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell August 16, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Believe it or not, I do love Coty Airspun, which has been around for decades. I love the vintage-y packaging, the smell, the light coverage. Just enough to set my foundation.And it brings back memories of my Mom every time I use it! My other favorite is Bare Minerals translucent powder. Gives my skin a nice matte finish, with a subtle glow.

  4. Avatar
    Asia August 16, 2014 at 1:40 am

    What loose powders do you recommend?

  5. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell August 15, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Glad you could offer some advice! Have not tried Le Keux. Will have to check them out. I’m always excited to try a new brand and their website looks great 🙂

  6. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell August 15, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Thank you 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Acid Doll August 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Great post !

    Acid Doll

  8. Avatar
    Dollie August 15, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Great post! Thank you so much for including me, I’m in great company! I also wear that liquid lip color from Stila. It lasts forever, even over an international red eye flight! I also recomed the lip pot for Le Keux. I love that one in red and peach. 🙂

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