How To Stop Lipstick Bleeding

Lipstick bleeding is one of the more significant frustrations when it comes to wearing lipstick. Let’s kick off with why lipstick bleeding happens. 

Why does lipstick bleed?

Lipstick bleeds or feathers because of one reason – wrinkles on the lip skin and surrounding areas. Wrinkled lip skin has two underlying causes. First, loss of collagen over time, which causes the lips to “shrink” a bit and develop deeper crevices that lipstick loves to sink into.  Second, dry & dehydrated skivn – which causes the same deeper crevices and premature lip skin aging.  Do not despair – you can solve this issue! A little daily lip care and some prevenative measures will have you wearing your favorite lipsticks with confidence. 

What does lipstick bleeding look like?

Lipstick bleeding, or feathering, looks like the lipstick is creeping its way outside of your natural lip line. It’s more noticeable with brighter and darker lip colors and seems to occur most often with lipsticks that are glossy or balm-like.

Using a matte or satin formulation of lipstick can help, but there are things you can do to prevent your lipsticks from bleeding even with the balmiest of lipsticks.

How To Stop Lipstick Bleeding

Step 1. Exfoliate your lips

First, you’ll want to exfoliate your lips to remove any dry skin. Exfoliating will help create a smooth surface so that your favorite lipstick can stay in place better. Using a dedicated gluten-free lip exfoliator is an easy way to do this daily. And daily is the key. You can also try scrubbing gently with a terry washcloth in the shower or when washing your face.

Step 2. Keep your lips hydrated

After exfoliation, applying a lip balm hydrates your lips. The trick here is hydration without being too balmy, so the lipstick won’t slip/move around. I like to apply Rallye Balm, massage it in, and then use a tissue to blot away any excess.  Do this step at the beginning of your makeup routine so it has time to completely “sink-in” before lipstick application time. Complete the rest of your makeup then…

Step 3. Use a lip liner

Using a lip liner can also help stop your lipstick from feathering. Start by outlining your lips with the lip liner. Then, fill in the rest of your lips with the lip liner. When choosing a lip liner, try to find a shade that’s close to your natural lip color OR matches your lipstick.  Of course, here at Red Apple Lipstick, we’re partial to gluten-free, vegan lip liners.

Step 4. dab and brush

Apply your lipstick in a dabbing motion instead of swiping. The dabbing motion presses the lipstick color into your lips vs. sitting on top. Also, using a quality lipstick brush will help you get even color distribution and define your lips.  You can use a lipstick brush after dabbing to work the lipstick into the lip skin and compress the layers of lipstick onto each other, or you can use the lip brush for the entire lipstick application.

Step 5. Blotting Sets Your Lipstick

Confession, before working at RAL, I had never even heard of the concept of blotting before other than blotting sheets for your skin. Since learning that trick, it’s helped a lot for me and making sure my lipstick application lasts + stays put.  Blotting sets your lipstick, and removes excess lipstick… the slippery top layer that loves to slide around, AND easily bleeds outside the lip line.  

Andrea Harper covers blotting in detail in her Lipstick Like A Pro video series

I had the pleasure of speaking with Clean Beauty Makeup Artist and Founder Rebecca Casciano, who works in both Los Angeles and New York, on the subject of lipstick bleeding and here’s what she said.

“If you’re concerned about your lipstick bleeding, try choosing a more matte finish, or apply lipstick to the middle of the lip first, then blend out toward the lip line with your fingertip. This will give a more stained look and prevent excess lipstick from feathering into fine lines. If lip color does bleed, remove excess color with a cotton swab, then powder carefully around the mouth area before touching up.”

Rebecca Casciano
Clean Beauty Makeup Artist

How To Correct Lipstick Bleeding

Let’s say you’ve tried a few of these tips and you happen to look in a mirror and see that your lipstick still crept over your lip line and has settled into fine lines. It’s a frightening sight, to say the least as you start wondering how long you’ve looked like this and think about everyone you’ve talked with during the day.

First, try not to worry too much, chances are good that no one noticed because usually, it’s only noticeable if you look close and most people will look you in the eyes when you’re having a conversation. That said, you’ll still want to try to fix it so, let’s discuss how to fix lipstick bleeding once it’s happened.

Start by using a makeup wipe to wipe away the feathered edges of your lips. Then, use a little *concealer or foundation and a clean lip brush to apply a thin line of product around the edges of your lips. The concealer or foundation will cover up the lipstick bleeding lines and act as a barrier of sorts, preventing the lipstick bleeding from happening again. Then go ahead and touch up your lipstick application with a lip brush to redefine your lip line.

*A quick note about using foundation or concealer: Typically concealer will provide more coverage than a foundation, and I like to use one that has a yellow base when I’ve used a red lipstick as it helps correct the color a little bit. Green color correcter works as well when used under a foundation or concealer, but I prefer not to use too many products, and green can look a little un-natural.

Be Sure To Check Out Andrea’s Lipstick Like A Pro Video Series For A Complete and Thorough Run Down On How To Apply Lipstick Like A Pro!

Andrea has a series on lipstick application that I found to be extremely helpful. It’s totally binge-able and you can watch it here:

Now that you know everything about lipstick bleeding, it’s time to rock your lipsticks! If you try these tips and find that you still have some lipstick woes with bleeding or anything else know that the RAL team and I are always here to help.  If you have any questions or other makeup frustrations put them in the comments below.


  1. Hi! I am trying to find something to get the stain from my lipstick off my skin above my upper lip. My lipstick has feathered up and I have that under control now but the stain is still there. HELP!

    1. Andrea Harper says:

      Yikes! What lipstick was it that did that, was it one of ours? Our should come off with soap and water (face soap would work just fine). If it’s another brand, you may try using an actual makeup remover or makeup wipes. Have you tried any of those things already? I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this!

  2. Leiann Diffee says:

    My lipstick has stained above my upper lip and I can’t get it off. What can I use to remove this. It showed thru my foundation and I hate it.

  3. I heard that Red Apple is going to have a foundation line soon! Please update on when it will be out.

    1. Ashley Teague says:

      Hi Glenda, we’ve discussed foundation but I don’t think it’ll be coming out any time soon. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes and I know we’d want to be sure to do it in the right way.

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