Ombré Lips In Just 3 Easy Steps

After trying a million permutations, I finally came up with an easy (albeit unorthodox) way to master the gradient lip look.
Publish date:
May 30, 2013
tutorials, nars, lipsticks, How-To, nyx, Make Up For Ever, highlighters, ombre, lip pencils, lip liners

A few weeks ago, I was messing around on Instagram and I started noticing that all the super cool girls were doing something different with their lipstick. Something that, up until this point, I’d only really seen in the drag world.

The ombré lip has gone mainstream.

So I quickly consulted my friend Celisa, who is not just a spectacular human being, but also a mad-talented MAC makeup artist. Ever eloquent, I asked, “Dude, are ombré lips going to be a thing?”

And she said, “They already ARE a thing.”

Thus educated, I resolved to learn all I could about this new trend (that apparently isn’t new at all).

The internet can be a really confusing place sometimes, especially when it comes to makeup. People make up their own terminology for things, the stuff you find isn’t always gospel, and lately, it seems like people are less interested in makeup they can actually WEAR and feel comfortable in, and more concerned with what makes the coolest picture for the blogworld.

I like a high concept as much as the next girl, but at a certain point, you’ve just gotta say, “Life is too short to spend two hours stenciling cheetah print on my lips.”


We all know by now that “ombré” means “fade.” Ombre lips are two or more lipstick colours or shades blended so that they fade into one another. The ombré that I found most “wearable” is dark around the edges, fading to light in the middle. It’s like contouring your lips; it makes them look really big and full and fabulous. This is why a lot of drag performers do something similar.

After trying a million permutations of this--I'm serious, I was at this for three days--I’ve finally unlocked the secret to perfect ombré lips. My method is unorthodox, but the results are undeniable.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your favourite lipstick. For me, that’s NARS Lipstick in Schiapp, because hot pink rules forever.
  • A darker lipliner (or a darker lipstick and a lip brush, but this is a little harder). I’m using Nyx Slim Lip Pencil in Bloom.
  • A shimmery, light coloured powder eyeshadow. I’m using Make Up Forever Star Powder in Pink Gold.
  • A small, flat brush that you can wash. I’m using this one that came with a L’oreal eyeshadow like six years ago.

First, put on your lipstick. Don’t worry if you have a hard time getting it perfect right off the bat because we’re about to fix it up.

Next, line your lips with the dark liner (or darker lipstick, if you go that route), paying special attention to the corners of your lips. Blend the liner into the medium lipstick by drawing really short, feathery strokes from the outside in.

Now we add the highlight. I’m using a powder instead of a light lipstick because it sits on top of the medium lipstick more easily.

Take your brush and the light eyeshadow and dab a little right in the middle of your lips, upper and lower, almost in a little circle. You can blend it out with the brush if you want to, but I found that it was easier to blot it out with my finger.

You can see that once you’ve blended everything together, it ends up being a subtle but pretty effect. And the powder highlight has the advantage of not smudging and going everywhere like lighter lipstick does.

Tah dah! The spectacular result.

I want my lips to be the main feature of this look since I’ve just spent five minutes making them so amazing, so I’m wearing a little bronzer on my cheeks and pale brown eyeshadow with mascara.

The best thing about this is that you’re really only limited by your imagination. Have you always wanted to look like a gorgeous sunset? Here’s orange, red and gold!

Here’s Pepto-Bismol pink, dark pink and white!

Here’s a beigey-red I mixed up (remember my article on custom mixing?), burgundy and white!

And if you’re experiencing negative '90s flashback from all this contrasting lipliner, never fear! You can still do a version of this trend.

Just use your favourite lipstick, clean up the edges with a matching liner (rather than a contrasting one), and then dab the light shadow in the middle. Blend or blot out, and you’re done.

A word of warning, though: This look is really gorgeous, but it’s hard to keep up. I don’t think I could wear the full version of this on the regular because it requires frequent touch-ups to keep the blending looking perfect--it’s probably a “for special occasions only” thing for me.

The “lite” version (lipstick + light highlight), though, is much easier to maintain, and it looks awesome. I’m definitely going to be wearing this all summer long.

So what do you think? Will you guys try this yourselves? What’s your favourite colour combination? Should I wear black and green lipstick more often? I’m thinking the sci-fi alien girl look could be huge.