Part of being an artist is pushing boundaries and trying new things. There are always the traditional mediums such as acrylic or oil paints, charcoal, wood, clay, and glass, just to name a few. But what if you wanted to try something different?
If you’ve been to an art gallery, you’ve seen creations made from unexpected materials like sculptures created from recycled plastic bottles, drawings sketched with the eraser rather than the pencil, paintings made from condiments, and more.
In a world that encourages recycling, artists are constantly looking for materials they already have lying around the house that they can use to make a bold statement. For many, one of those items is lipstick. After all, makeup is art too, and many of us have old tubes stashed in the back of our make-up drawer, never to be worn again.
So, can you paint with lipstick? Painting with lipstick is possible. Traditional tube lipsticks paint in a similar fashion to oil pastels while liquid lipsticks have a consistency that is more like paint and are easier to use. However, you will need to seal it with varnish or other fixitive to keep it from transferring or drying out and cracking.
For fun, we tested a few samples ourselves just to see the effect we could get. So let’s dive in based on our own results, and those of artists who have gone before us, creating masterpieces with swipes of liquid magic.
Why Work With Lipstick?
With so many traditional art mediums out there, you may be wondering why you’d want to work with lipstick at all. To start, it’s just a fun experiment!
In a similar way that people have painted with berries, motor oil, spices, and coffee, it’s a fun way to try new techniques, get out of your comfort zone, and get your creativity flowing!
Not only is it fun, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Lipstick has the same basic ingredients as oil pastels: oil, pigment, and wax.
There are other added ingredients, but this same basic structure makes lipstick a more viable painting medium than, say, your old ketchup bottle.
Which leads us to another point: recycling. As we said earlier, using old lipsticks that you know you won’t use anymore is a good way to recycle and get the most out of the money you paid for it in the first place.
Lastly, unlike traditional art paint, lipstick is safe to put on your lips and skin! This means you can apply lipstick as usual and use your lips to create different visual effects.
Different Types Of Lipstick
If you want to paint with lipstick, first you have to know the different types, and how they work as a painting medium.
There are the traditional lipsticks that come as a solid rod in a tube that women have been using for decades. Then, there’s the more recent liquid lipstick.
Traditional lipsticks have more of an oil pastel-like appearance when applied to paper, as seen in our photo here. This is due to the solid state of the lipstick itself.
Liquid lipsticks are a little easier to paint with since they’re already in liquid form, like paint. This gives you more freedom and control over your brushstrokes.
In our trial, we found liquid lipstick to be better for creating dimension by testing a feather-like brushstroke. The lighter color highlighted the effect more, but it came across fairly well in all liquid shades tested.
Although not an actual lipstick, lip gloss is also an option. It offers a lighter pigmentation and a shiny finish, which can be helpful for highlighting certain areas of your picture and playing with the lighting of the room.
Which Type Of Lipstick Works Best?
Now that we’ve reviewed the types of lipstick, which ones work best? Generally, it will depend on the look you’re going for with your art piece.
One factor to consider when using liquid lipstick is that it’s formulated to dry quickly and stay on. This could become a hindrance while painting because you don’t have much time to work on a specific section before it dries completely.
We also noticed that liquid lipsticks tend to leave behind an oil stain on the paper. This may not be a factor on canvas, but if you’re looking for a cleaner, lighter material, liquid lipstick may not be the right choice for you.
On the other hand, creamier lipstick formulas tend to work better. They’re easier to manipulate even after they’ve been applied and had time to dry.
You can find creamy formulated lipsticks in both tube and liquid form, though it may be more common in tube form. Be sure to read the label of the lipstick you’re considering and look for buzzwords such as “creamy,” “matte,” “moisturizing,” and “long-lasting.” These are good indicators to help you choose the right lipstick for your project.
Luckily, no matter what type you choose, you’ll find no shortage of color options. Most lipstick brands offer not just the usual pinks and reds, but bright blues, greens, purples, and more.
Best Painting Surface
When it comes to choosing your painting surface, we recommend something textured. This will help the lipstick adhere to the surface and give you more control over the painting.
Specifically, regarding paper, you’ll want to avoid using smooth surfaces such as regular printer paper. Instead, get a sketch pad, textured bristol, or some watercolor paper. These papers have a lightly textured and more durable surface that will pair well with lipstick.
You can also use canvas, one of the most traditional surfaces for painting. Canvases are naturally textured and will work just as well with lipstick as they do with regular paint.
Storing Your Lipstick
Sometimes our favorite places to create art are rooms full of natural sunlight. Nothing beats those beautiful rays helping to illuminate our art as we work!
However, if you do enjoy working in direct sunlight, keep in mind that lipstick melts. When not using your lipsticks, we recommend putting them away in a dark cupboard or away from natural light. Keep the room cool and well-ventilated.
If you tend to create outside a lot, you also want to make sure you bring your lipsticks inside when you’re done. Leaving them outside, especially in warmer climates or summer months, can also melt them and render them unusable. It can even melt the lipstick right off your canvas!
Can You Use Brushes To Paint With Lipstick?
Yes, you can absolutely use brushes to paint with lipstick. You can use fine brushes and grab some lipstick on them to do fine line and detail work.
Another option would be if you wanted to intentionally melt a tube of lipstick and use it in its liquid form. This could make it easier to work with, but you would also want to use it all in that single session before it hardens again.
Try cutting off just a small section of the tube and melting it individually. This can help save the rest of the tube until you’re ready to use the entire color.
How Do You Clean The Brushes?
If you choose to use brushes, you can clean them the same way you’d clean any makeup brushes: with makeup remover!
Another great tip is fragrance-free dish soap. Run your brush under the water, drop a small dab of dish soap on the bristles, and lather the soap. Dish soap is great for lifting oils and removing them from the surface, so it works great to remove lipstick.
When you’re done washing your brushes, be sure to dry them thoroughly before use again. Shake the brush into the sink to get off the majority of the water, then leave it in an open space to air dry.
Will The Finished Product Smudge?
Lipstick typically doesn’t dry completely, since it is oil-based and designed to still be easily removed, so it only makes sense that it would smudge a bit.
To fight against that and protect your new art piece, simply spray the finished product with an oil pastel spray fixative. This will lay a protective layer over your art and protect it from any disturbance.
Be sure to only use this spray in a well-ventilated area, such as outside or a room with many windows or fans. Let it set for 10 minutes, then your art is ready to frame.
Another solution is pouring a thin layer of epoxy resin on top of your artwork. Epoxy is a great sealant, but keep in mind that this will leave a shiny, glossy finish on top of your painting. If this isn’t your desired look, stick to the spray.
Can Other Makeup Be Used As Paint?
Of course! If you want to use a makeup product that’s already liquid, such as foundation or concealer, you’re all set. Stepping into the world of eyeshadows, blushes, and other powdered makeup products means conducting a bit of science.
The great thing about eyeshadow is that the colors are limitless. On the other hand, you’ll have to find a liquid base to mix it with that works well with your brand of eyeshadow and your desired surface.
Another great makeup product to use as an art medium is eyeliner! Eyeliner also often comes in a wide variety of shades, and you can use it as you would a softer, creamy colored pencil.