What you need to know about gradient lips

If you’ve browsed various makeup sites, you probably spotted the gradient lip look.  Gradient coloring gives your lips a more pouty look.  It also tends to make your lips smaller, some would argue “cuter”.

gradient lips

Do you remember the dark lip liner and light lip stick look from the 90s?  That look was an attempt to make your lips look fuller.


The gradient lip look is the antithesis of that in every sense… and with more blending.  Like, a lot more blending.

It’s also a look that is becoming very popular state-side, too.  If the recent pictures of Coco Rocha in Vogue sporting gradient lips is any indication, it’s only going to become more popular.  Here’s what I do to get that look:

1) Everything starts with “base makeup for lips”.  The goal is to neutralize the color of your lips.  There are many ways to accomplish this.  My way is to start with Etude House Kissful Lip Concealer.  Apply the lip concealer along the edges of your lips and use your fingertip or a mini-blender to smooth it out.

etude house lip concealer
Etude House and their damn cute packaging…

2) For a simple gradient, apply a lip color of your choice on the inner part of your lips.  If you’re not sure where or how much you should apply, just think geisha.  Again, using your finger tips or mini-blender (or a full-sized blender if you’re comfortable with the grip of bigger puffs), blur the edges of the color by lightly blotting and ‘dragging’ the lip color outward.

geisha lips
Geishas had the right idea. They just hadn’t invented the Beauty Blender yet…

3) Once you’ve completed blending, adjust the amount of concealer or lip color as needed to achieve your desired look.  It should roughly look like this:

Blending on paper face chart is NOT easy!

4) Once you get used to applying the look, you can have fun playing with different color combinations and finishes.  For instance, sometimes I like to finish the look by applying a little highlighter to outer edges and blending – let’s call it strobing for your lips.  And of course, you can always apply a little lip gloss for an extra shine.

I prefer to use Laneige Lip Sleeping Pack instead of lip gloss.  It provides a muted shine which I like and hydration which I love.  It tends to make the lip stick come off relatively easily but that doesn’t bother me because re-touching my makeup during the day is a good way for me to take a mental break from work.  My main problem with this lip mask is that it sells out quickly and sometimes I have to wait like, two weeks (!), before it’s back in stock.

Not just for overnight – I keep one in the bathroom with other masks, another one with makeup at my vanity, and one in my purse.

When I feel ambitious with my lips, I like to get bold and go for a multi-hued look, especially with contrasting shades.  A personal favorite combination of mine is orange red and neon pink:

My first Clinique purchase since the high school: it was my first non-drug store ‘fancy’ makeup

Here’s how the blended result looks on skin (I haven’t waxed my lips in a while so I don’t want to post close-ups of my catfish-stache):

It’s all about blending

My love of trying different gradient lip colors has also led me to discover I’m Lip Crayon from Memebox.  I haven’t found lip makeup that can compare with the price and quality of I’m Lip Crayon.  For that reason, I am well on my way to owning the complete set of colors.


The most important thing to keep in mind is that like most makeup, there’s no right or wrong way to do any one particular look.  It’s all subjective and based on personal preference.  So, go and experiment.  Try different colors.  Or not at all.  As for me, I’ve been trying various multi-hued look with black as the base lip color.  I’ll let you know when I find a look that doesn’t make me look like a middle-aged wannabe goth punk chick.  Don’t hold your breath.



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