Makeup artists Jo Baker and Georgie Eisdell share the secrets to a perfectly painted pout.



The scene is legendary: Gloria Wandrous wakes to find herself alone in a lover’s apartment and a thick pile of money left for her. Outraged at the implication, she steals a mink coat from the closet, turns to the mirror to apply her rouge, and instead ferociously scribbles “No Sale” across the glass and leaves the cash behind. Elizabeth Taylor won her first Academy Award for her role in BUtterfield 8, cementing her icon status and sending women out in droves to buy her rose-hued lipstick.

Taylor was known for being an avid lipstick devotee (she allegedly demanded that no one else be allowed to wear her signature red on set), and we also love the ritual and result. To that end, The Violet Files called upon makeup artists Jo Baker (the woman who paints the pouts of Emmy Rossum and Salma Hayek) and Georgie Eisdell (the trusted artist of Alice Eve) to expound on the legendary beauty staple. 

As Taylor famously said, “Pour yourself a drink, put on lipstick, and pull yourself together.” Indeed, the right rouge can make all the difference both in your cosmetic wardrobe and on your outlook, which is why finding the perfect formula is a necessity. Below, a catalog.


The famed cosmetic product is made of oils, waxes, emollients, and pigments and comes in a range of color densities and textures. Finding your perfect hue is only half the battle when selecting the right lipstick, as there are a variety of finishes to consider. How should you choose? “I think it really just depends on your mood,” says Eisdell. Here, a glossary.


Satin textures have a creamier consistency and a slight shine. This formula is all about the pigmentation, “perfect for an opaque lipstick look,” says Eisdell (among her favorites are Burt’s Bees Blush Basin and Brimming Berry). Satin textures (often in bullet or crayon form) are particularly great for mature skin types—lips appear moisturized and instantly plumped.


Flat in appearance, matte formulas can be a touch dehydrating on the lips, but are preferred for a modern finish and when applying bold tones because they are highly pigmented, say Baker and Eisdell. (They also happen to be the hottest makeup trend this fall.) Another bonus: Mattes are long-lasting and require fewer touch-ups—and very little is needed for a full-coverage lip. “I tend to lean toward mattes,” Baker reveals. “They’re particularly great during warm-weather months, when other textures might end up smudging.”


Glossy textures give exactly what the name promises—a high-shine, light-reflecting look that’s “particularly great for young women,” according to Eisdell. Baker also recommends this formula for the wow factor. “When you desire attention and drama, go for the gloss,” she advises. Baker’s gloss staple? Tom Ford Vladimir. “The gray-toned shimmer takes me back to the ’90s,” she says.


Sheer lipsticks bridge the gap between traditional lipstick and balm, and are the best choice for a low-maintenance, subtle color that conditions the lips, Baker and Eisdell agree. The discreet shine is ideal for (otherwise) no-makeup days.

How to Apply (all textures): Apply any lipstick directly from the bullet or crayon pencil for the most dramatic punch of color. Eisdell also recommends a lip brush (like Bobbi Brown’s Retractable one) to maintain control during application.


This wet formula has a similar effect to lipstick, but with more longevity and dramatic pigment. “These textures dry matte and won’t budge—removal definitely required,” says Baker. Eisdell agrees, adding that these long-wear formulas can be more drying on the lips. Also similar to regular lipstick, the liquid formula is made of a combination of waxes, oils, and emollients—unlike a stain, which is primarily composed of water or gel.

How to Apply: To keep the lips from looking dry and cracked underneath, preparation is essential to wearing liquid lipstick (read on for Baker and Eisdell’s tips). Apply using a doefoot applicator or a lip brush, and carefully trace the lip line with the wand before painting the lip completely. Build intensity by adding layers.


A mixture of waxes and oils, gloss is a thick liquid coat that leaves a wet, lustrous finish (“often sheer, often with shimmer,” notes Baker). You can wear gloss alone for a light sheen or on top of color for a high-shine, ultra glamorous makeup moment.

How to Apply: Glaze lips using the accompanying doefoot applicator, and be mindful of touch-ups. Gloss requires careful maintenance to avoid looking patchy and to keep it from smearing. “Don’t forget to consider your hair when wearing gloss,” says Baker, as the sticky nature of gloss can catch strands, making it less than ideal for outdoor occasions when wind is a possibility. 


Lip stains, which often come in liquid or gel form, provide a lightweight, concentrated dose of buildable color that’s perfect for the noncommittal. The lasting power of a stain is its best feature, allowing you to go about your day without stressing over touch-ups.

How to Apply: After applying the stain (either with a doefoot applicator or a lip brush), Baker smudges it with her fingertip for an effortless, worn-in look. For everyday wear, she suggests choosing a stain shade that is an enhanced version of your own lip color. Eisdell prefers wearing a single layer of stain for just a hint of color on the lips.


“Balms are designed to condition the lips first and foremost,” says Baker of the wax formula, which comes in stick or tub form. Pigmented lip balms will give a light wash of color to the lips (meaning they will need to be reapplied more often), come in a variety of delivery systems, and contain moisturizing ingredients like beeswax or shea butter.

How to apply: Apply to lips directly from the bullet, or use a finger if the balm comes in a pot—no mirror necessary.



Baker uses a gentle lip scrub (she recommends Dr. Apa’s Lip Loofah) to slough away rough, flaky skin and to increase circulation, adding a healthy flush of natural color to your pout. Eisdell advises exfoliating at least once a week, and rinsing with water (or a facial cleanser) before adding a moisturizer.


Eisdell and Baker agree that hydration is key before applying any color. The Sisley Nutritive Lip Balm is Baker’s moisturizer of choice, while Eisdell incorporates Lucas’ Paw Paw ointment as the first part of her clients’ skincare routine: “That way, when it comes to applying lip color at the end, the lips are hydrated and ready.” For an all-natural lip treatment that is both hydrating and plumping, Violet recommends using KNC’s lip mask 2 to 3 times a week. 


To avoid getting lipstick on your teeth (and to spare your man’s lapel), setting lipstick is a must. Eisdell shares a trick she learned from Bryce Dallas Howard: Place a piece of tissue over the lips and, with a blush or powder brush, lightly dust translucent setting powder over the top (Violet recommends Laura Mercier’s Invisible Loose Setting Powder with Bobbi Brown’s Sheer Powder brush). Remove the tissue and voilà! Lipstick that won’t budge. As an added precaution, Baker recommends gliding the tongue over the teeth (mouth closed) throughout the night to erase near mishaps that occur after eating, drinking, or kissing.


Baker blurs the lines: “You can get away with adding more volume if you don’t make the lip line appear sharp or obvious.” After tracing the outer edges (with either a lip pencil or the lipstick itself), smudge along the edges of the lips with a clean eyeshadow brush (Violet recommends Utowa’s Pointed Eyeshadow brush), diffusing the product and softening any lines. Beware of taking product too far outside the lines, advises Eisdell. “Once the product starts to fade, overdrawn lips look especially fake.”


Baker uses lip liner as a lipstick base to create color that is especially long-lasting. Most liner formulas are waterproof, so “using them as a dry base helps adhere the finishing color and adds density to the lips.” Baker recommends rubbing freshly sharpened liners with tissue to soften to the point for a smooth, natural-looking finish. Eisdell prefers to use liner to create polished lip looks and to keep color from bleeding. She applies liner after lipstick to lock in the color and to tidy up the edges.


Eisdell recommends placing a folded tissue horizontally in your mouth and pressing the inside of the lips on it. “You will find that the excess lip color that would have ended up on your teeth is now on the tissue.” Crisis averted.


Eisdell loves Burt’s Bees Sensitive wipes to remove lipstick, while Baker prefers oil-infused Serge Lutens remover pads for their silky texture—the nourishing vegetable squalane relieves stripped lips while gently removing stubborn lip color.


Browse the collection of lip products currently approved by The Violet Code.


Makeup artist Rachel Goodwin demonstrates a variety reds on model and actress Amber Valletta.