The gradient lips first hit the beauty scene in Korea several years ago, but since then it has gained momentum not just in other parts of Asia but also in other countries like America too.
They may look like a lot of work, but in this tutorial, we aim to show you the fast and easy way to achieve a Korean gradient lip look which even lipstick beginners can catch up with.
1. Exfoliate your lips
Is it really necessary to exfoliate your lips? The answer is probably yes, unless you are blessed with naturally moisturised lips that never get flakey. Gradient lips are intended to exude a sense of “juiciness” so having smooth and soft lips can help accentuate this look. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to exfoliate them every day. Twice a week is the maximum frequency usually recommended.
Exfoliating your lips will help to get rid of the dead skin cells and make your lips smoother and softer for better lipstick application. Some lip exfoliators also have other beneficial properties such as vitamins and anti-oxidants.
If you are a DIY kind of person, go for an all-natural lip scrub which can be easily made with sugar and coconut oil.
When exfoliating your lips, rub the lip exfoliator gently on your lips in a circular motion for about 15 seconds. Always remember to do it gently to prevent excessively breaking down the skin on your lips, which can lead to lip bleeding and scabs.
2. Apply lip balm
Now that we have gotten rid of the dead skin on our lips, it is time to replenish the loss of moisture from our lips.
You can look out for lip balms that contain ingredients such as shea butter and olive oil which helps to nourish and regenerate healthy cells on your lips. Stay away from those that contain menthol or other such ingredients that give a “cooling” sensation, which may dry out your lips further.
Do your lip exfoliation and apply your lip balm first thing before you do the rest of your skincare and makeup, so that you can give the lip balm some time to soak in to your lips. When it’s time to apply your lip colour, simply blot it off with a piece of tissue paper. Your lips will be a lot smoother and it’ll be easier to achieve that coveted gradient lips!
3. Use concealer on your lips
This step can be optional, but it will really help to make your gradient lips pop.
The gorgeous gradient look relies on a contrast of dark and light shades, and because our natural lips are already slightly reddish, the contrast is not as strong. Using concealer to lighten up your lips will help to give your gradient lips a better canvas to work on, and will go a long way in making the colour stand out.
Apply a small dab of concealer on to the back of your hand, use a finger to get a tiny bit of the product and tap it gently over your lips. After you’ve made sure that the concealer is evenly applied, you can go ahead and apply your lip colour.
DV Tip: It’s best to go for a very, very thin layer of concealer, especially if you’re new to this. You want to make your lips look a shade or two lighter, but you don’t want your lips to blend in with the rest of your face either.
4. Choose a lip colour
After the preparation is done, choose a shade of lip colour that you wish to put on your lips. Fill in the inner and lower area of your lips with the colour.
To find the lip colour that suits you the best, you need to first understand what undertones you have. Check out this guide to learn how to identity your skin undertones.
Those with warmer undertones should go for warm red and orange hues. On the other hand, those who have cooler undertones would look best with lip colours that have blue or purple hues.
5. Blend out the lip colour
After applying the lip product, it is time to blend it out to achieve the gradient that will complete the look.
Using a lip brush, a cotton bud, or your own finger, blend the edges of your lip colour with a left-to-right wiping motion. As usual, do it gently so that you will not tug your lips too hard.
Cotton buds, in particular, are especially popular in getting the gradient lip look. They’re small and easy to bring around, it’s more hygienic, and they’re able to reach areas like the inner corners of your lips which your fingers may make a mess of. Another bonus is that you don’t have to worry about cleaning up after that – you just have to throw them away.
If you prefer a matte, stained look, you can stop here. If you’re looking to go for a more juicy, succulent look, go on to the next step!
6. Apply a transparent lip gloss
Topping your gradient lips with a transparent lip gloss can actually do wonders to making your lips look extra delicious and almost gummy-like.
If you’re opting for this step, make sure that the lip colour you’re using underneath is transfer-proof, so that it doesn’t get smudged around when you apply the lip gloss over it.
And with that, voila! You have just created gradient lips in a few simple steps!
Extra tip: Maintaining your gradient lips throughout the day
A common mistake that can ruin you gradient lips is when you rub your lips against each other or when you are wiping your lips with a tissue. If you have to put your lips together, for instance, to blend out lip balm, open and close your lips gently instead of moving them in a left-to-right motion. Similarly, use a dabbing motion if you have to clean up with a tissue, so that you won’t be ruining your gradient lip look.
Remember to also bring along the lipstick that you’ve used so you can touch up throughout the day.