Popsicle Lips 101: How to Get Summer's Most Delicious Makeup Trend

It keeps coming back for a reason.

Sadie Sink in popsicle lips

Katey Denno

Glazed doughnut. Dewy dumpling. Popsicle lips. See a pattern here? Beauty trends can be scrumptious. And like your favorite summer fruit (hello, watermelon!), popsicle lips have been making an annual comeback as soon as the weather starts heating up.

In case you were wondering, popsicle lips are inspired by the colorful effect the tint of a popsicle leaves on your pucker. “Popsicle lips are ombré lips that have the strongest concentration of color in the center and blends out to flesh tone around the lip line,” says Jason Hoffman, VP of Beauty and Product for Amyris (the parent company of Rose Inc).

Like so many beauty trends before it, its origins are in Asia. “I remember seeing ‘reverse ombré’ lips becoming a trend around 2017,” Hoffman recalls. “The next year, I was teaching a masterclass in Hong Kong with attendees from Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and China. We were talking about this trend, and it was made vehemently clear to me that it had started in Asia as ‘hot pot’ lips (the center of the lip becoming flushed from the heat).” 

Why You Should Try Popsicle Lips

Popsicle lips have been stealing the spotlight on TikTok once again this summer. “I love this trend because it's a great way for people to get out their bright colors and repurpose them,” says Beck Morgan, Armani Beauty National Face Designer. “Also, they can find a new bright color that might feel too intense otherwise, but now they can wear it in a softer way. Bold lip colors are one thing that people tend to be very shy about, but because it's blended, there are no sharp edges, which is perfect for people who are not used to wearing bright colors. It's playful, it's fun, and it also feels very youthful. A lot of women say I don't want to look like I'm wearing my mother's bold red lipstick. That's why it keeps coming back.”

Another reason to try popsicle lips is that it works on practically everyone. “It levels the playing field as it doesn’t matter how full your lips are—it is just that concentrated bit of color in the center,” Hoffman says. “It may not be conventionally flattering on everyone, but it’s a hot trend. Are Bottega rubber clogs truly ‘flattering’? No. Do I want them? Desperately.”

Find the Right Hue for You

Nailing the right shade for popsicle lips isn’t any different than trying to find a regular lipstick color that flatters. “As always, play and experiment with shades deeper than your lips,” Hoffman says. “Reds, bricks, and berries tend to work well on everyone.” He recommends the Rose Inc Satin Lip Color Refillable Hydrating Lipstick ($28) in Persuasive for light to medium complexions and Poised for medium-deep to deep complexions. 

To keep it in popsicle terms, you could also think of it this way: Do you want orange or cherry lips? If you’re all about that citrus, Morgan recommends Armani Beauty Lip Maestro Liquid Lipstick ($39) in 401 for orange and 504 for cherry.

Prep Your Pout

Popsicle lips look best on a pampered pucker, so Morgan recommends using a lip mask or conditioner the night before, such as Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask ($24). “With any of this lip artistry, the more hydrated and soft your lips are, the prettier and better your lips will look,” he says.

How to Apply Popsicle Lips

Once your lips are hydrated, the first step is applying a nude lipstick that’s just a touch lighter than your natural lip color. “That's really key because when you take that bold color and put it in the center of your lips. If you start blending it out onto bare lips, it looks messy and can get caught in all the ridges of your lips that might be a little bit dry,” Morgan says. “The formula that you pick is really important. I prefer liquid lipstick with a velvety finish. I think it's easier for people at home than using a standard satin lipstick because it blurs by nature.”

Start by applying the lip color on the inside of the center of your bottom lip with your finger. “We don't want perfect edges,” Morgan says. “Only apply it to the bottom lip, press your lips together, and then use a small smudge brush to blend it out. Keep applying a tiny amount of the lip color to the very center inside of your bottom lip and blending it out with the brush until you get the intensity that you're comfortable with.”

For the final touch, Hoffman advises setting the entire lip with a bit of powder. “Don’t be afraid, have fun with it and if it goes terribly wrong, still post it,” he says. “We like horror movies too!”

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