Does White Lipstick Really Make Your Lip Color Brighter?

Beauty mavens say that wearing white lipstick underneath your lip color actually makes it brighter. We put that to the test.

One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is playing around with makeup. If I ever find myself flopping around my apartment with an hour to kill, I’ll usually grab my almost disturbingly extensive makeup display from my dresser and play around with a few of the products that I don’t use on a daily basis. I’m not really sure where that habit stems from, but it probably has something to do with the fact that much of my high school procrastination revolved around obsessively watching makeup tutorials on YouTube. And that I don’t have much of social life maybe?? Anyway, one of the tips I would see most often in those videos is to put white lipstick on before colored lipstick, as it supposedly makes the color brighter. Since I’m nothing if not a constantly suspicious lady, I thought I’d try this out for myself.

The theory behind the trick makes sense: If you’re starting with a completely white canvas, then it’s more likely that the true color of the lipstick will show up, unmarred by natural lip color. But I never liked theories, mostly because they make me think of science and then my brain starts to hurt. Also, the idea of wearing two lipsticks at once seems uncomfortable. Like, what if my lips get too heavy and something like this happens:

THERE’S NO COMING BACK FROM THAT. But, alas, because I love all of you Gloss readers, I decided it was more important to test out this makeup theory than worry about the integrity of my lips.

So, before we get started, here is my makeup-free face in all its glory:

How can I make my lips look brighter?

I have relatively pink lips naturally, but I don’t think it’s ever had too much of an impact on how my lipstick looks. Then again, makeup tutorials tell me that I’m wrong, so there’s that. I wanted to use a color that’s a little bit more subtle on me so I could see if the white really made a significant difference, so I used CoverGirl Colorlicious Lipstick in Tantalize. Here’s what it looks like sans any makeshift white primer:

What is white lipstick used for?

See what I mean? It gives my lips a slightly darker, rosy-purple tinge, but nothing too different from my natural color. Now that that’s over, let the experiment begin.

While I am a bit of a strange-lipstick-color aficionado, I don’t have any white lipstick, so instead, I used my Nyx Cosmetics Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk. Before you tell me how gross it is that I use my eye pencil on my lips, let me state for the record that I always wipe it down with a tissue before I use it, and even if I didn’t, they’re my germs and I can put them wherever I please. All the tutorials say to apply the white evenly like it’s your normal lipstick, so that’s just what I did:

Is white lipstick popular?

May I just say that I feel like the White Queen from The Chronicles of Narnia, and I’m not mad about it. Next up: lipstick time:

Is there a white lipstick?

Okay, so I don’t know who’s idea this whole “white lipstick as a primer” initially was, but this is clearly not the same color I had on before. I mean, look at this:

White Lipstick Review: How do I keep my lipstick from turning white?

Rather than bringing out the brighter color like everyone said it would, it lightened it up to a shade that I would never be caught dead in. It looks like one of the first tubes of lipstick I got from Claire’s when I still played dress-up in elementary school. It’s bad, guys. And on top of that, I ended up with a ton of white color on my purple lipstick, which was easy enough to wipe off with a tissue, but annoying nonetheless.

I will say, though, I now understand why so many people love lip primer. It was significantly easier to apply the lip color the second time around with the white underneath than it was to apply it directly to my lips. It sunk into the natural indentations in my lips less and left a more even color overall, even if it wasn’t the color I wanted.

So, final verdict: Don’t try this at home unless you’re willing to walk away with a surprise lip color. If you’re going to do something like this, I suggest buying a sheer lip primer or anti-feathering lip pencil. This experiment just goes to show that you can’t always trust what you see in makeup tutorials.

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