How to Deal with Matte Lips: Before, During & After

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If a bold lipstick isn’t matte, then I’m not really interested. Bold lips when not served up in a powdery texture equal mess; Joker-like smears across your chin and unintended ombré effects when the colour wears off from the centre due to a lack of strength in the longevity department. The NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencils and the MAC Matte Lipsticks are among my favourites, but with them can come the dreaded ‘prune lip‘ effect as they aren’t the kindest finish to your pout. To halt my lips from resembling the back end of a cat I do have a few tips mind you for reigning in the dryness before, during and after application…

BEFORE. The key really is in the prep. Feel free to skip over the proceeding steps, but just keep this one in mind. Firstly exfoliate – your lips? – I know it’s weird. Either go to town with a toothbrush to buff away dry patches, or use an exfoliant specifically formulated for this purpose. I love the Fresh Brown Sugar Lip Polish, which could very easily be fashioned from your own kitchen, but I can never get the consistency right. Then apply lip balm before you start your makeup, by the time you get round to lips it would have sunk in (if not, tissue off the excess) and you’re ready to get painting the colour on.

DURING. Sometimes things just look completely moisture zapped. You love the colour, don’t want to remove it, but your lips are gasping. In those situations I bring in the balm and blot technique. Take a light lip balm, something like the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Lip Protectant and pat it over your lips – ahhhh, sweet sweet moisture. Then take a tissue and blot off the excess to bring it back down to that matte finish. A short, but sweet (and satisfying) hit of nourishment.

AFTER. Lip balm, lip balm, lip balm. Something really rich and thick and a formula that is still clinging to your lips come morning, after a PM application. The one that fits that bill for me is the By Terry Baume de Rose one, let’s not talk about how many of these little pots of overpriced lip goodness I’ve been through. It’s also worth pointing out that to remove my more stubborn stains I crack out the Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover to lift it off. Eyes, lips? It does it all.

The process might appear a bit of a ballache, but it’s not a particularly time consuming one and for a bold lip that holds its own all day, even thorough a lunchtime burrito feast – it’s worth it.


  • Dressed with soul

    Love this colour, thanks that you explained the process so detailed <3

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    International Giveaway: Christmas Surprise with Self Interest

  • That tip about using a light lip balm over top is great. There I haven’t thought of.

  • always amazing advice 🙂
    Love you anna

  • Perfect timing 🙂 I am loving the Cruella matte lip pencil so much at the moment! After your review of the NARS Christmas lip pencil set I ran to the shops to get it 🙂 I got the last one!
    – C

  • Which color is this one? From the Holiday set? You are SELLING it!!

    Shani x

  • i ALMOST use the same technique 🙂

    I’m running a “Christmas” giveaway (lorac pro pallet+ the wet brush), if you’re interested, check this link:
    little taste of heaven

  • Great post with some useful tips that I’ll be bearing in mind in the future! Thanks Anna. I’d just like to say that you’re style of writing is always so great and easy to understand/follow, not to mention always very witty! Love it 🙂

  • Bella

    Great article with very useful tips!

  • I should have tried the patting some lip balm onto my lips 😀

  • Jodie Vernon

    Patting lip balm onto your lips is such a savior for when your lips are so dry!

    Jodie // La Lune Song

  • I love using Lush scrubs on my lips (the Bubblegum flavour is my favourite).

  • Morgane

    This is one of my problems. So thank you for the tips!!

  • Anna

    Also I think the key is lipliner for a god matte lip. I LOVE Sephoras matte formula lipstick, color 4239c (4) – my go to Kylie Jenner lip. Another good one that is semi matte but a loooovely finish and color is Wetnwilds lipstick in Java (e549a). Another amazing matte lipstick is MACs bestseller in the 90s “Taupe”. So sexy (only lipstick my boyfriend really likes) but very dry if not used the right way.

  • clementine buttercup

    I generally wear a matte finish when wearing a bold lip. Any suggestions for preventing other formulas from sliding across my face?

  • Love this. Matte is my jam, especially during this time of year.

  • Jessica Sutherland

    This post could not have come at a better time! I’m loving bold matte lips too at the moment but I do find it sooo drying, especially in this cold weather! I’m going to make a trip to lush tomorrow to pick up a lip scrub 🙂

  • Matte is always best! I personally use a bit of 8hr cream dabbed on my finger – dip it in some sugar = lip scrub.

  • I love exfoliating my lips especially this time of year when literally anytime I go outside if I don’t have vaseline with me, they’ll become chapped. Matte lips are always the way to go!

  • I love matte lips, especially with a more dewy look! Thanks for sharing these great tips, matte lips defiantly takes some preparations!:)

    http://WWW.THEFASHIONINSIGHT.COM / Outfit of the day – preppy and edgy

  • elza

    i only care about matte lipsticks but they’re so drying so thank you for these tips ! x


  • Katy Graham

    thanks for the clarins tip! sometimes i can be oh so messy when applying a bold lip colour – they just aren’t very forgiving if you make a hiccup!

  • emily couture

    lovely post 🙂

    emily xx

  • Experience has taught me that a matte lip routine is essential especially in the colder months or else you suffer.

    Emma & The Beauty Blog

  • The fresh sugar lip scrub is soooo good. Most lip scrubs don’t do much for me but this one is such a winner. Matte lips in general are just a no-no for me though. Love how they look on others but just CBA with the upkeep/prep

  • I definitely find using the Fresh lip scrub to be a helpful step when wearing a matte lip. Thanks for the other tips, I’ll be using them!

  • I use a sandwich technique for application: balm, matte lipstick, blot, balm, then matte lipstick again. A double hit of balmy goodness at the start of the day really helps my lips feel conditioned. And also, drinking lots of water through a straw to prevent dehydration from the inside out.
    Ting |

  • A matte bold lip? I’m all in. I do agree that the process of wearing that can be quite moisture zapping, but nowadays formulas have greatly improved. Currently loving Givenchy and Bite Beauty for this matter, but there’s no denying that a rich lip balm and lip scrub are a great deal of help. You’re probably the one that introduced me to matte bold lips and I’m forever grateful.

    X Alice

  • Love me a matte bold lip! Great post and I’ll definitely give the Fresh Lip Polish a go.
    Did you ever try the one from Lush? If so, what do you think about it?
    xx Laura

  • Nicola Danielle

    Nuxe rêve de miel is an amazing intensive, ‘apply once and it’s there all day’ balm. I have had dry, flakey awful lips for years but I purchased this last week and it has totally transformed my lips. Now I can pull off a matte lip with ease!

  • Sarah

    That’s so funny that you have toilet roll rather than a tissue to blot in the picture…we all use toilet roll tho hahaha

  • This is so helpful! I love the look of matte lips, but my lips are so sensitive that wearing one all day has me layering on the thick balms for days. I never thought of your “during” tip. My favorite thick balm is the Bite Agave Lip Mask!
    Kelsey |

  • Manouk

    It’s way to do it but I usually just take face wipes with me and take everything off after a few hours and re-apply 🙂

    WOMANOUK (beauty and portrait

  • Mandy Bajwa

    thanks for the great tips!!

  • I absolutely hate taking off a matte lip, pretty much dip my lips into Reve de Miel haha! x

    A Little Treat | Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

  • Great tips Anna! x

  • Maggie

    I find a lip polish to help with almost any type lip stick application!

  • alice bea

    This post is so helpful!

  • Great tips! Super helpful now I just need to confidence to pull off that bold lip I love so much on other people, lol.

  • Ella

    Yes, yes, yes, this whole process is SO worth it. I seem to have been blessed with lips that will hold onto products no matter the formula, but I like to be careful when I go matte 🙂

  • Fab tips Anna! I just need to be brave enough to try a bold lip as they always look so great on other people I tend to stick with nudes!

  • Great tips, Anna! I find that lip scrubs are such a worthwhile step before a matte lip. They really do the trick! 🙂

  • Iris Nguyen

    Erm, lip balms are made of wax-like or petroleum based materials to help seal off the moisture in our lips. It doesn’t provide any moisture at all. If I feel dry, I would drink a lot of water in addition to applying lip balm against the dry and windy condition.

  • one of my favorite drugstore mattes is the revlon audacious lip pencils… great color payoff and they last forever!

  • I found Wet N Wild lippies that last a loooonnnnngggg time and have to do what you say for keeping a lip look that isn’t really ugly and dry. Thanks for the post!

  • I agree, preparation is the key. The Body Shop do a lovely exfoliant, too.

    I never tried making one on my own, as I am usually helpless in DIY.

    LindaLibraLoca Beauty, Baby and

  • Joyce

    What lippie shade are you wearing in the picture?

  • Leanne

    So glad someone else uses eye makeup remover to remove matte lipsticks besides me! Works like a charm. I recently wore MAC’s Rebel all night, thought I removed it well and woke up only to find it still fully intact. At least we know MAC’s staying power is an A+.


  • Cherie Tang

    I already do all of these steps and they’re so effective! This was spot on Anna, and that shade looks immense on you! x

  • amazing lip colour! 🙂

  • I have EXTREMELY dry lips, so have always stayed well clear of matte products, but I think your little routine could make it work for me. May have to pick up the Lush bubble gum lip scrub and give it a go!

    The Velvet Black // UK Style & Beauty Blog

  • One of my favourite lipsticks from MAC- Dangerous is extremely (!!) trying so I always go for Bite Beauty lip treatment after using it! I love mattes too much to just stop using them but my poor lips don’t like them at all! // Brazilian/Swedish Beauty Blog ( In English )

  • Awesome tip for the after part. I’ve always have trouble fixing up my lipstick later on the day . I’ll give your tip a try 🙂

  • Emma and Emily

    I’m still not sure about the mac matte lipsticks. I have russian red and it seems to get everywhere every time I apply it!

  • The Elizabeth Arden lip balm…is AMAZING!!

    My travel essentials xoxo

  • Rosalie (4BeautyandLife)

    I have tried the matt lipsticks of MAC, but my lips are so dry that they do not look right on my lips. So I have given up.

  • I have terrible trouble with matte but still wear them and follow a very similar routine. You have made me want to try the sugar scrub! I have always used a tooth brush or the lush scrub. xo

  • Nina Zane

    I have super dry lips and this weather has made it worse, poor me can’t have a matte lip 🙂 x

  • Talisa Lauren Tossell

    Preach about lipbalm after! Noone ever advises aftercare so this is great!

    GRWM: Everyday Make-up routine + IPAD MINI GIVEAWAY

  • Hope Richardson

    Love this little guide, definitely ones for people like me who struggle with dry lips, I do love a bold lip!

  • Clara Ella

    I have so much love for the Nars lip pencils.. I have to buy the color you’re wearing. Beautiful!


  • Kat Horrocks

    Great post! Matte lips can take their toll on lips !! I only go for matte lips if they are already in good condition. I will skip it and use scrubs/balms if they aren’t!

    Mac mattes are so great, but seriously drying. Good and bad because they stick around for hours!

    Kat x

  • Charlotte Copeland

    Fab post, if a lip ent matte then I’m not interested. Your brows are on point too x

  • SamyAllora

    When I was 14 I tried the lip exfoliating thing with my toothbrush and “went to town”. It did not end up well. My lips felt awful and raw and kinda sting-y. I’d say do it veryyyy gently! Of course I was young and didn’t know anything then, haha.

  • Whitney

    I need to know what is on your lips. Or I will die.

  • Lovely post! I love the MAC matte lipsticks omg! I’m currently loving Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte ‘Love Liberty’ and also Depth by Topshop! I didn’t like exfoliating my lips because it makes my lips worse.. not sure why (probs the ingredients) but I’d like to try the Fresh Lip Exfoliator!

  • great post!! xx

  • Cel

    Love matte lipsticks, and I love that photo of you! You look amazing.

  • Great tips! Matte lips are some of my favs! x

    Blog Marjorie

  • You are totally the queen of the bold lip Anna! Loving all of your tips and I’m thinking the baume de rose needs to be on my next up list.


  • I love wearing Matte lipsticks so these were really helpful tips! Thanks!

  • Chantal

    Thanks for all the great tips Anna 🙂 x

  • Amber Hunter

    I also use a more heavy duty eye makeup remover if I need a little extra help haha. I always regret when I’m lazy and don’t properly prep for a matte color because my lips are not too happy afterwards so I’ve learned not to skip those first steps!
    Amber | Lovely Notions

  • Anna

    I’ve never figured out to rock a bold lip and totally relate to your Joker comparison! Now I know why it hasn’t worked…I need to try a matte color! This is life-changing! 🙂

  • Lip scrubs are key for matte lips!

  • Awesome post Anna! Love the tips, and your lip colour! Gorgeous girl.

  • Confused

    Wait — sorry — did you just compare your lips to a cat’s asshole, or did I miss something?

  • I sported the Sephora Matte Lip Cream yesterday and my lips were gasping for moisture come the afternoon – definitely a very good guide, Anna!

  • So true!
    I love sugar scrubs- if you don´t get the consistency right, it can help to put in some really fine oatmeal. I am also a fan of the good old toothbrush scrub…. just use a fresh one and not the one you are tempted to throw away!

    During the wear time, I often moisturise. It is just important to not put another layer of lipstick over balm, in the hopes of getting rid of shine. Because the opposite will happen! Stick with the described blotting technique- it really is the best solution!

    After wearing the matte lipstick, don´t just stick to balm. Throw on some honey right after and let it soak in. Afterwards, take off any residue and slap on some real moisture overnight. I recommend lip butters, heavy duty lip creams- but no lightweight balms!

    A last tip: Prep+Prime for lips (by MAC) is not just a hoax. It really works, not only as a base to increase longevity, but to keep any moisture sealed in!

    Great article, Anna!


  • likeavirshin

    I do the same! The only proper Matte lipstick I own is Russian Red but I rock it with this technique! It took me awhile to figure how to use it without looking like a prune 😛

  • Great post. You find very nice words for describing such a big problem that us lipstick addicts often struggle with! <3 I use a soft high-quality toothbrush for exfoliating my lips and then I work with blistex before coloring with Chanel.

    Really like your way of writing – btw: you are very beautiful!

    Hugs, Thea /

  • Totally agree with exfoliating and a layer of moisture – I tried the matte pencils in-store and the artists didn’t put any balm down and my lips were so dry! Curses not packing some balm myself 🙁

    Lauren x

    Britton Loves | Lifestyle Food Fashion Beauty –

  • Lipstick that stays is all about the prep work. I love matt lipsticks! Their lasting power is amazing! So much better than looking like a Joker!

  • This is so helpful! I love bold matte lips in winter – but always have a huge problem with dryness!

  • ThriftyShopperBlog

    I love matte lipsticks too. can I recommend you try soap and glory’s? They are so wonderfully scented and I think they are already moisture imbued so you really don’t need to worry about drying. xx

  • Sod’s law, isn’t it, that red lip season also happens to be the windiest time of the year, when my lips are chapped for 3 months staright as it is. Hopefuly a routine like this might help me! x

    ellabooxo • beauty & lifestyle

  • Alicia

    which one are you wearing in that top picture?

  • Allison

    I swear by the Nuxe Reve De Miel for before during and after a matte lip! Tons before and after and a tiny amount during is perfection
    Allison from

  • I always find the “during” the most difficult! I’d been wearing a lot of matte products recently but gave up as it’s so time consuming, so now i’m loving the simple but chic dior colour reviver balm. so natural looking and nourishing! x

  • Thanks for the tip on re-hydrating during the wear! I always end up wiping the lot off and starting from scratch, which is so time-consuming.

  • Great tips! I’m obsessed with MAC’s matte lipsticks as well but they are SO drying!