This Cotton-Swab Lipstick Hack is Going Viral on TikTok

POPSUGAR Photography / Jessica Harrington

The only time I’ve used a cotton swab while applying lipstick is when I need to clean up around the edges. Never has it crossed my mind to use one while simultaneously applying my lip product – until I saw a video about it on TikTok.

In this beauty hack, the person holds a cotton swab between their lips while applying lipstick. After they’re finished, they remove the swab to reveal perfectly lined lips. It’s supposed to prevent product from getting on your teeth and make it easier to apply product to the corners of your mouth. Applying liquid lipstick without mess can be tricky, especially since I don’t use it everyday – so I was hopeful this trick would help.

I grabbed a random liquid lipstick from my collection and a cotton swab from the bathroom. Putting a cotton swab between your lips is a strange thing – by no means did it feel natural. During my first go, it took some time to get used to applying the liquid lipstick without being able to move my mouth. However, the swab did make easier to get a sharp, pointed cupid’s bow, since my lips were pursed in a way they usually aren’t when I’m applying lipstick. After I removed it, the inner corners of my mouth were missing colour, so I rubbed my lips together a bit to blend before assessing the results. It looked OK, but I was determined to make it look better – so I decided to go for round two of the hack.

I was curious to see whether a different type of lip product would yield better results, so I opted for a lipstick crayon with a pointed tip – the Maybelline New York Super Stay Ink Crayon ($6, originally $9) in the 155 Achieve It All shade, to be exact. Right away, I felt like I had more control applying the crayon around the edges of my mouth than I’d had with the liquid lipstick. (To be fair, that’s usually true for me even without a cotton swab in my mouth.)

The results looked better post swab than they had the first time around – using a cream product in a lighter shade made any mistakes more forgiving. Still, I’d recommend using a product with a pointed applicator to make lining the outer edges of your lips easier. The hack gives you a plump, pouty smile because of the way it over-lines your lips. I went back in with my lip crayon and connected the edges on my lips (so that they wouldn’t have a gap from the cotton swab), and the final result looked great.

While I can’t say I’ll be grabbing a cotton swab every time I apply lipstick (it seems a bit wasteful, to be honest), I do think this makeup hack is good practice for over-lining in order to achieve fuller-looking lips.

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