The Best Lip Primer
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Lipstick is perhaps the most challenging beauty product: You apply it only to find it’s faded or gone completely after just a couple of hours. Drinking and eating will remove lipstick, but even if you go hours between meals and snacks, you’ll likely find the color still somehow fades.
But the biggest issue with lipstick duration is the surface beneath it. Your lips serve as the canvas for the cosmetics you put on them, and if that canvas isn’t smooth and clean, the lipstick layer won’t be able to attach properly. Exfoliating your lips before using lipstick can help create the surface you need for long-lasting lip color.
There are a couple of tools for your makeup kit that can help lengthen your lipstick’s duration. One is lip liner, which has long been used to create a barrier between the lips and the skin surrounding the mouth. When applied correctly, lip liner can also help provide a base for your lipstick, extending its life.
But another tool that has increased in popularity in recent years is lip primer. This tool is similar to the foundation you use to provide a base for your makeup. A primer base will help smooth out the surface, keeping your lipstick from sinking into the lip’s wrinkles or bleeding into the area surrounding your lips.
The right lip products also make a difference, though. You’ll want a primer that builds in moisturizers to keep your lips soft but that doesn’t make the surface of your lips so oily that lip color will become slippery and less resilient. It’s also important to avoid lipsticks that promise to be long-lasting, as some products make those promises without delivering. Perhaps most interesting is the fact that sometimes the best-performing lipsticks are the least expensive.
Our Picks For The Top Lip Primers
NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP
Smudge-Free Lip Primer
With a roll-up design, this lip primer is easy to maintain and gives you plenty of uses. The primer not only extends the life of each coat of lipstick, but it also helps smooth out your lips to make your lipstick glide on smoothly. The formula is designed to prevent smudging and feathering to keep your lipstick looking great.
Soothes and ProtectsPrime your lips without drying out with this moisturizing formula.
Pop Matte 8 Hour Lip Primer
A built-in primer gives this lipstick staying power, even when you’re drinking and eating. The formula is lightweight but saturated with pigment to give your lips a bold look. Moisturizers help keep your lips soft and healthy.
Lots of HuesChoose from bold pinks, deep browns and dark reds with this lipstick-primer combo.
Prep + Prime Fragrance-Free Lip Primer
Available in a thin profile that won’t take up too much room in your makeup bag, this primer is great for priming your lips. The formula is designed to fill in wrinkles in the lip to create a smoother palate for the lipstick. The twist-up design makes it easy to use, and the tube lasts through many uses.
Precise ResultsThis primer fills in lines in the lips to help your lipstick go on better while also preventing smudging.
Devil's Plumper Moisturizing Lip Primer
The formula in this primer promises to boost circulation in the lips to make them look fuller. Built-in primer helps a coat of lipstick last longer and resist smudging. Moisturizing ingredients like argan oil and almond oil deliver moisture to the lips to help keep them soft.
Great GiftThe fun packaging and top-quality design make this lip plumper and primer a great gifting option.
What to Look For
- Unlike lip liners, most lip primers feature a roll-up design with no sharpening required. For that reason, they’ll be sensitive to temperatures just like your other liquid cosmetics.
- Some primers have plumpers built in. They typically use mild irritants to create a reaction in your lips, leading them to swell slightly. Unfortunately, with regular use, these products can become less effective as your lips adapt. Products that use hyaluronic acid to create the plumping effect won’t have that issue, but the effects are more subtle than what you’d get with the traditional type of lip plumper.
- Lipstick longevity isn’t the only benefit you can get from a lip primer. They also can help reduce the risk of feathering and smudging. When combined with a good lip liner, you can create a smoother, more polished look with the right primer.
- Some lipstick comes with the primer built in. These can be better than not using a primer at all, but you won’t have the smooth canvas when you apply your first coat of lipstick as you would if you used a separate primer first.
- The type of lipstick you buy also contributes to its longevity. Matte is best if you’re looking for something that will last all day. Cream formulas won’t last as long as matte, but they’re better than liquid lipsticks or lip glosses.
- Lip primer can be a great gift item if you’re looking for something small. Look for one with high-quality packaging.
- Primer can dry out the lips with regular use. Some come with oils built in that can soften your lips while you’re wearing them.
- If you use lip balm between lipstick applications, make sure to completely wash it off before applying primer or lipstick. Lip balm can create a greasy surface that makes it tough for lip color to stick.
- Vegans or those who are concerned with animal testing can look around to find products that deliberately avoid it. They’re often marked vegan friendly or cruelty free. Vegan cosmetics are also manufactured with no animal ingredients.
More to Explore
If you love lip cosmetics, you can thank a Sumerian queen. Queen Puabi was known for wearing elaborate headpieces and staining her lips. She achieved the bright colors by using a powder mixture of red rocks and white lead. Her look inspired fellow Sumerians, along with nearby Minoans, who soon began staining their lips, too.
But it took Cleopatra to bring lip stain to ancient Egypt. Following the lead of their queen, Egyptians began painting both their eyes and lips in shades of orange, magenta and even dark blue. Some Egyptians also began using the lip stain on their cheeks to protect their skin against the harsh desert environment. Egyptian tombs have been unearthed filled with cockleshells and pots with lip paint inside, indicating they took their makeup with them to the grave.