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INDUSTRY EXPERTS:

HOW TO do a 
gradient lip 

Artist Matthew VanLeeuwen teaches us how to replicate a pouty, I-just-ate-a-cherry-popsicle look in three easy steps.

Film by EMI BELL


We’re of the opinion that the virtues of a lip stain are not extolled enough. The unique formulas lock down pigment, are generally weightless, require little-to-no maintenance, and will survive from morning coffee to nightcap. But while most of us can articulate exactly why we love the stay-put lip essential, few of us know how to nail the look. To remedy this, we invited makeup artist Matthew VanLeeuwen and Aussie model and entrepreneur Lara Worthington to our beauty studio in Los Angeles for a proper lesson.

“A stain doesn’t really have edges. The idea is that you were eating fruit or something that just stained,” says VanLeeuwen, whose Hollywood clients includes Salma Hayek, Billie Lourd, and Debra Messing. Our directions were simple: give us a perfectly stained lip in three steps. VanLeeuwen kindly obliged and chose Giorgio Armani’s Lip Magnet Liquid Lipstick to create a gradient effect, “The best way to make a stain is to do color from the inside that fades as it comes out. I like to apply  from the middle of the lip, and then let [the lip color] find its way out to the edges. The liquid formula is four times thinner than a traditional lipstick, loaded with twice as much color, and achieves a beautiful matte finish.” Watch the video to see the duo demonstrate the full technique—we promise it’s easy to replicate.


The Gradient
Lip Stain

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VanLeeuwen’s color of choice: Giorgio Armani’s Lip Magnet Liquid Lipstick in 506 Fusion: “this is a watery-thin pigment—no weight, just color.” Pause for a moment before spreading the pigment outward. Repeat the same technique, but this time, press lips together to distribute the color. To finish, apply a third layer just on the lower lip. 

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For the most refined result, VanLeeuwen suggests using a beautyblender to apply a light layer of foundation around the mouth. “It just kind of neutralizes the edges and you really just see the stain part of the lip.”

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As for the rest of your look? "Keep the makeup super natural," says the artist. On Lara, VanLeeuwen used a touch of bronzer and M·A·C’s pale Cream Colour Base in Hush, "I literally just patted on the [eye]lids. I like the ease of it, super luminous."