huh yunjin le sserafim
K-beauty tints, blunt lip liners and a lot of smudging will help you perfect this imperfect blurry look. Image Credit: Instagram/@jenaissante

Korean beauty takes lip products very seriously. In the late 2000s, stars on Korean variety and music shows, and billboards, appeared with gradient lips, and fans all over the world picked up bright tints to colour their inner pout. While the ‘popsicle lip’ never truly petered out of fashion, another popular lip look is gaining momentum among new-gen stars (and it’s way better than over-lining your lips).

Blurred lips give the illusion of a bigger, plumper pout. Unlike gradient lips, this look has full coverage but the edges are deliberately ‘smudged’, a strategic detail that makes the lips appear almost thicker, yet natural. K-pop singers Huh Yunjin (above) of LE SSERAFIM and Sana of TWICE are well-versed in wearing a blurred lip, causing a flurry of beauty fans to replicate the iconic look.

Outside of South Korea, the technique has crossed oceans to end up on models in Dubai, shares Kimia Nourtajalli, a make-up artist and stylist with over a decade of industry experience in editorial and TV commercials. To nail blurred lips, scroll to the bottom to get her expert application tips.

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You’ll also find Nourtajalli’s favourite lip tints to achieve this look in our list ahead, together with K-pop stars’ go-to items. Shop them from Amazon with a Prime membership to score free, fast delivery, and check out discounts across a host of products during Beauty Week.

1. Use lip tints only

Water stains or tints, when layered carefully, can help you achieve a one-product blurred lip. This is Nourtajalli's go-to method, where she applies tints like Etude's Dear Darling Water Tint and Benefit's classic Benetint to the centre of the lips, and then fans the product out with a finger. With each coat of the product, you'll get a buildable, darker colour that will stay on throughout the day. Clarins' water stain is another great option for people who tend to bite their lips out of habit, as reviewers attest to the product's long-lasting staining capabilities, even after eating and drinking. Remember to blur the edges of your lips as soon as the product goes on, since stains and tints lock in and dry quickly.

2. Use a combination of K-beauty lip tints

Korean tint formulas, on the other hand, are made to replicate all your favourite K-beauty lip looks. Our picks go on matte or velvet with a surprisingly spreadable texture, so they naturally fall under a specific category of tint: blur tints. Girl group LE SSERAFIM's Yunjin is seen using Wakemake's Water Blurring Fixing Lip Tint with a blunt lip liner (more on this below) to draw on her viral lip make-up. Similar options are widely popular in the beauty community, like the Rom&nd Blur Fudge Tint, which is meant to be applied by smudging past the lip line and doesn't clump, and 3CE's Blur Water Tint, which is transfer-proof and dries down with a powdery but skin-like finish. Many beauty creators combine tints of different colours for the centre and outer areas of the lips.

3. Wear a matte lipstick

If you want more coverage or don't do well with tints, you could create a blurred look with creamy matte lipsticks. The trick is in the application, where, instead of a full swipe, dab a bit of colour and fluff it out across the cupid's bow and under the lip. Look for hydrating products, like the Etude Fixing Tint Bar that 'fixes' on the lips 60 seconds after application with a moist finish. Rom&nd's Zero Matte is made to blur lip lines in a non-drying formula, and it comes in a wide variety of my-lips-but-better shades. For a liquid lipstick, look no further than Chinese beauty brand Flower Knows' Cloud Lip Cream - it has the perfect consistency for a lightweight blurry application, described as a 'soft fog effect' by the brand. It recommends softening the dead skin on the lips with a balm, wiping it off and then going in with the lip cream, after which the outer contours can be blurred using a cotton bud.

4. Combine tint with a blunt lip liner

Korean beauty influencers always use their blurring tints in combination with a lip liner. It's not just any lip contour, however. They stick to pencils with a rounded blunt tip in a shade closest to the colour of their bare lips - this achieves the opposite effect of a defined lip. You get to overline your pout without making it obvious and all it needs is a slight smudge with a brush, fingertip or a silicone applicator. Our picks only feature thick lip liners, from Nars' satin finish to Inglot's matte pencil and Bourjois' velvet-textured liner.

5. Take the help of a lip brush or a silicone applicator

If you don't want the product all over your fingertips, invest in a hygienic applicator. Believe it or not, there are special 'brushes' used for blurring a lip product. They have a blunt silicone tip instead of synthetic bristles, which means the tool can be washed and dried quickly after every use. Silicone applicators distribute the product evenly on the lips and don't pick up excess formula for a patchy, wasteful application. For actual lip brushes, opt for a curved tip with a small brush head to gently smudge the edges for soft, fuller-looking lips, like the K-beauty I'm Meme Lip Smudge Brush.

What does a blurred lip do?

twice sana
As opposed to “sculptured and defined lips”, a smudged pout lends the face a healthy glow just like flushed cheeks. Image Credit: Instagram/@m.by__sana

Beauty trends are ever-shifting; where thin lips ruled in the past, the masses now prefer make-up techniques that create the very opposite effect. K-beauty traditions reflect this change, says Nourtajalli.

She explained: “Having thin lips used to be the Korean beauty standard. But, today, plump or heart-shaped lips are considered attractive. When we look at older pictures of Korean make-up, we see that the lower lips had full coverage but the lipstick was much thinner on the upper lips. Nowadays, the same method is being upgraded to a softer, more natural look by blurring and fading the outer lines of the lips.”

Wearing a blurred lip can dramatically enhance your look. As opposed to “sculptured and defined lips”, a smudged pout lends the face a healthy glow just like flushed cheeks. Naturally, the colours used to create the lip look are often mauve or rosy brown to keep the tone as close to your actual lip shade as possible.

Nourtajalli describes blurry lips as pigmented in the centre and faded near the edges. “The look goes best with glowing, dewy make-up because it enhances the fresh look that comes with soft, blurred lips,” she added.

How can we achieve blurred lips?

chaewon le sserafim
K-pop stars take advantage of blunt-tip lip liners in nude colours. Image Credit: Instagram/@_chaechae_1

With any lip look, lip care comes first and foremost. A hydrated and moisturised pout will prevent the product from sinking in fine lines and snagging on chapped skin. As our make-up expert puts it, lip balm and lip masks are essential to achieving a smooth blurred lip look.

There are many ways to draw on a blurry pout for both glossy and matte results. Nourtajalli’s favourite method involves lip tints or stains since they’re lightweight and easier to smudge than lipsticks. It all begins with applying colour to the centre of the lips and diffusing it towards the edge with your finger. You can even set the lips with a loose setting powder for a longer-lasting look. If you want them glossy, dab your favourite gloss on a finger and tap it across the lips.

K-pop stars take advantage of blunt-tip lip liners in nude colours. With a wider, blunt pencil, it becomes much easier to blur the lip contours, using light strokes across the cupid's bow and under the lower lip. Contour your lips as if to overline them and then smudge the lip liner with a finger or a make-up brush. Next, fill the lips with a blurring tint, spreading the product with your fingers and then layering more tint as needed.

Getting the perfect airbrushed pout will take time, so go over your application slowly to build a blurry consistency.

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