How can I briefly communicate that a character's lips have lipstick on them?

I can't say something like "lipstick covered lips", because using "lips" twice sounds awkward. I considered "gloss covered lips", but lip gloss and lipstick aren't quite the same thing, and in my opinion have different connotations (lipstick I think of as slightly "classier" than lip gloss). Painted? I thought maybe just "red", or "ruby red", but that might be unclear (and not as emotionally neutral as just "had lipstick on them").

This is for prose fiction.

Sorry if this question is too broad, I don't use this SE often. Feel free to close if so.

  • 1
    I like painted but it might be cliche. Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 18:09

9 Answers 9


Not a very common word, I’d say, but the easiest and most obvious choice would be to simply turn ‘lipstick’ into a verb through zero-derivation, and then using the past participle of that verb:

Her lipsticked lips were pursed.

Googling “lipsticked lips” yields about 15,000 hits, which isn’t much, but enough to show that this word has been invented and used before. More tellingly, the OED has a subentry for it as well.

(Google also reveals that I am not the first to have thought quippingly that the past participle of ‘to lipstick’ really ought to be lipstuck. I’d not suggest using that, though.)

  • Because, apart from being incorrect, lipstuck actually means having stuck lips. LoL! +1 for the main answer though.
    – Kris
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 12:38
  • Easy, yes, but obvious I’m not so sure. Might I kindly suggest the possibility that not all -ed adjectives in English owe their existence to a posited zero-converted verb that has been rendered into the past participle? See OED -ed suffix², used for converting nouns to adjectives (rather than the -ed suffix¹ for doing so with weak verbs via their past participles). The entry is fairly interesting, connecting to similar constructions in OE, OS, Proto-Germanic, and even Latin, and providing many examples.
    – tchrist
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 13:02

Plenty of writers (7000 of them in Google Books) have referred to...

her rouged lips (rouge - a red or pink cosmetic for coloring the cheeks or lips)


Please consider any of the following solutions:

Her crimsoned lips were pursed.
Her shiny-red lips were pursed.
Her dolled up lips were pursed.
Her blood-stained lips were pursed

Perhaps the last suggestion is melodramatic but metaphorically speaking it works, and the image is a striking one.

  • I like these. Using a less factual adjective can inform tone.
    – Raphael
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 16:33

"Coloured lips" might fit. You can also use the phrase "nude lips" to mean someone who wears nude or natural lipstick.


Just stick with lipstick lips – that phrase is popular (~339,000 results on Google 'Web').

'See' results

  • Most of the results on Google are false hits, though, with punctuation and other things intervening between the two words. ‘Lipstick lips’, at least to me, also indicates something more permanent than ‘lipsticked lips’, which may or may not be appropriate for the asker’s context. ‘Lipstick lips’ to me are lips that you almost find it hard to imagine without lipstick—a description of a quality of the lips (like ‘luscious lips’), rather than an addition that lipstick has been applied to them. Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 13:02

Well lipstick is called lip stick. And lips are called lips.

The lipstick made her lips look like they were covered in lipstick.

The lipstick on her lips was red.

She had red lipstick on.

She was wearing red lipstick.

The makeup she wore consisted of red lipstick and some eyeliner.

Hope that helps.


Just change the order of the sentence "her lips highlited by a deep rosy red lipstick" if you want to go for a different feel "her lips caked in a red lipstick" if that is too much try painted lips or makeup covered lips it is all up to you in the end. Honestly you don't even have to say lips if you want "her lipstick was ____" people just assume it on her lips and it depends on the picture you are willing to paint with your words.


"She was wearing lipstick" sounds most natural- for I believe that there is no reason to specify "lips" when the word "lipstick" already includes it.

When I say someone was wearing a lipstick, it is implied that it is cosmetic applied on the lips.

If you wish to particularly target description about "lips" or "a lip", beginning with other details should be feasible. Read this to understand better:

Her lips were broad and shaped well. They also had a lipstick on

Nevertheless, a contextual reference may bring out a different conclusion.

  • The description specifically targets her lips. Her ____ lips were pursed. Obviously I could offload the mention of lipstick to a separate sentence, I was just wondering.
    – Jack
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 12:14
  • 1
    That is why I said "Nevertheless, a contextual reference may bring out a different conclusion." May be "colored", "painted" would fit in. But as you said it's not much clear and I couldn't find an exact synonym for lipstick. Let's resort to looking for more responses.
    – Nitika
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 12:25
  • Lips do not "have lipstick on", you might, but not the lips.
    – terdon
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 17:18
  • @Jack could you edit the example sentence: Her ______ lips were (pursed etc.) in your question? Otherwise, users won't realize where the problem lies.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 17:35

"Her lipsticked mouth was pursed..."

  • 1
    This answer was already given.
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 18:46

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