Subtle gradient lip, two ways

The Korean style gradient lip is meant to give lips an innocent, just-ate-a-cherry-lollipop look. I've seen it look beautiful. But sometimes, when the contrast is very beige against very red on the inner part of the lips, it just sort of looks like you have the flu. 

A gradient lip where the outer edges are dark is flattering, because the lighter shade in the center makes the lips look plump and pouty without straying into the duck-face territory that comes with using liner to fake a bigger lip shape. Think of it as contouring for your lips.



To keep it from looking dated, make sure the shades are fairly close to each other on the spectrum. Focus on doing a pretty thick section (a little less than the outer third on either side) with the darker shade, not a skinny outline, on the corners of the lips, then taper that out as you approach the cupid's bow and the center of the bottom lip. The look you're avoiding is the skinny black liner surrounding red lipstick. Blend blend blend the edges where different shades meet to create a subtle dimensional illusion. Illusions, Michael!

In the first look, I used MAC Rebel, a purple-toned red, for my dark shade and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in Anime. In the tubes, they don't seem that similar, but the purple and neon pink worked great together and looked seamless. In the second look, I did more of a conventional outline with MAC Brick liner, then used NARS Heat Wave blended into Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Light It Up. The dark red into red-orange into coral is a more obvious contrast than the first look, but it's still understated (or as understated as a bright red lip can be!).

I dig this look so much that I can't wait to try it with more contrasting shades! Have you ever done a gradient lip? Do you prefer similar shades or throw caution to the wind?

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