Master Class: 4 Steps to Bold Lips

From Dolce & Gabbana's chic cabernets to Bottega Veneta's fiery fuchsias, bold lips punctuated the spring runways. "It's an unexpected — and fun — time of year to try a darker lip color," says Gina Brooke, artistic director for Shu Uemura and Madonna's go-to makeup maven. "Playing with lip liner is a safe way to get pigment intensity à la carte." Here's how to pull off a high-impact pout.

By Lizzie Dunlap

January 21, 2010 11:36 AM
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Step 1: Prime Time

Darker shades exaggerate little lines and flakes, so before you apply any color, prep your pout with a scrub and moisturizing lip balm or primer. "Results last longer on a smoother surface," says Brooke. "But if you start to notice flaking, it's best to clean off your lips and start from scratch."

MC RECOMMENDS: Comfort Zone Lip Blooming Scrub, $21.
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Step 1: Prime Time

MC RECOMMENDS: Guerlain KissKiss Baby Lip Balm in Cristal Nude, $30.
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Step 2: Shade Selection

The general rule is that blue-based shades (like classic reds) complement people with fair skin tones, while orange-based shades (like browns and bricks) complement those with warmer skin tones (think Jessica Alba and beyond). "You can always start with a darker version of your current lipstick," says Brooke. "But try lots of shades, such as plums. I just mixed a deep, universally flattering purple for Britney Spears on a video shoot."

MC RECOMMENDS: Shu Uemura Supreme Shine Lipstick in 793, $30.
Jeffrey Westbrook/Studio D
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Step 2: Shade Selection

MC RECOMMENDS: Neutrogena MoistureShine Lipstick in Poppy Red, $9.49.
Jeffrey Westbrook/Studio D
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Step 2: Shade Selection

MC RECOMMENDS: L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche in Robust Raisin, $9.99.
Jeffrey Westbrook/Studio D
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Step 3: Line of Fire

Before applying lipstick, line and fill in your lips with a nude lip pencil or one that matches your selected shade. Avoid anything darker, as it could fade unevenly. "Dark lips can make the mouth look smaller," says Brooke. "I line along the lips' outer edge to enhance their shape and prevent color bleeding." For a retro, matte finish, try wearing a colored liner on its own, or topped with lip balm for moisture.

MC RECOMMENDS: ELF Lip Definer & Shaper, $3.
Jeffrey Westbrook/Studio D
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Step 3: Line of Fire

MC RECOMMENDS: Rimmel London 1000 Kisses Stay-On Lip Liner Pencil in Mirtillo, $2.99.
Jeffrey Westbrook/Studio D
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Step 3: Stain Power

Stains achieve a noir effect without the commitment of opaque color. You can always deepen the shade by layering a lip liner. "The key to dark lips is to ensure that the color isn't wearing you. Stay in your comfort zone, and have fun," says Brooke.

MC RECOMMENDS: Givenchy Printed Lips Stain in 2, $24.50
Jeffrey Westbrook/Studio D
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Step 4: Stain Power

MC RECOMMENDS: Mark Gloss Gorgeous Stain in Bella, $9.
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