Need guidance on how to apply lip liner without looking like a ‘90s R&B star? (No hate, it was a coveted look at the time). Hint: ditch the dramatic liner and apply the right color with the right technique and you’ll reap all the rewards of this essential beauty product. Read on for the best lip liner application tips and tricks.
What Does Lip Liner Do For Your Lips?
A bit of lip liner can do wonders for any quest for a perfect pout. Lip liner application can feel a bit intimidating – what if your other lip products wear off and you’re walking around with a ring of dark lip liner on all day? First, if you apply it correctly, that shouldn’t happen. And second, the rewards of lip liner outweigh the potential downfalls.
Here’s why you might want to wear lip liner.
- If you use a lip liner shade that’s a shade darker than your natural lip color, it may help give the appearance of a fuller pout.
- Lip pencils may help even out the appearance of uneven lips and play up certain features, like your cupid’s bow.
- The waxy consistency of lip liner could make your favorite lipstick last longer before it fades.
- Lip liner may help prevent shiny or creamy lipsticks from bleeding outside the edges of your lips onto your skin.
- Lip liner color can be used in place of lipstick for a long lasting option.1
What Color Lip Liner Should You Use?
When it comes to choosing your lip liner color, you have a ton of options. Generally, you’ll want to choose something that fits one of these three descriptions.
Choose A Color That Matches Your Natural Lip Color
Some makeup experts will advise you to pick a nude lip liner that matches the color of your lips, not the color of lipstick you plan to wear. This may help ensure that the lip liner will blend in naturally. Nude liners are also useful for accentuating your cupid’s bow or overdrawing your lip line for a fuller pout.2,3
Choose A Color That Matches Your Lipstick Color
If you plan to wear a highly pigmented, bold lipstick, you may choose to match the color of lip liner with the color of lipstick. This is an excellent choice if you plan to wear the liner over your entire lip area under your lipstick.
You could also try a slightly darker liner than the lipstick color for a crisp, defined edge. If you use a deeper liner shade, just be sure you blend, blend, blend so you aren’t left with a dark ring around your lips.4
Choose A Colorless Lip Liner That Goes On Clear
If the thought of dark liner isn’t your cup of tea, you have one more option: go clear. An invisible lip liner goes with literally every lip and skin tone. Many are made to be mattifying to keep lip makeup in place without adding more color.5
How To Apply Lip Liner In Different Ways
Now that you know what a bit of lip liner can do for you, here’s how to apply lip liner using a common lining method with a couple of variations. All three methods use the same first two steps.
1. Gather The Makeup Products You’ll Need
- Lip scrub: Lip makeup looks best when your lips are soft, smooth, and free of dry, flaky skin. Lip scrub will help you get there.
- Lip balm: Lip balm may help smooth and soften your lips.
- Lip liner: Depending on your desired look, pick a lip pencil that matches your natural lip color, your lipstick (or a slightly darker shade), or one that is clear
- Pencil sharpener: It may be handy to have a lip pencil sharpener. A dry, well-sharpened pencil can help create crisper lines. (For a more natural look, run the tip over your hand before you use it to dull the point just a bit).
- Lip brush (optional): While a clean finger or even a cotton swab can be used to blend lip liner, a lip brush may help give you the most flawless finish.
- Lipstick (optional): While you can wear lip liner alone, you can also opt to pair liner with a matching lipstick color.
- Lip gloss (optional): Adding a touch of lip gloss to the center of lips may help give the illusion of a fuller pout. Lip glosses are handy to have for a bold lipstick or full lip makeup look.
- Concealer (optional): Concealer may help clean up your lip lines for a natural look. It can also help blur your natural lip lines if you’re overlining your lips.6,7
2. Prepare Your Lips For Lip Liner
1. Exfoliate Your Lips
Cold weather, wind, and some beauty products can dry out your lips. If you have dry, flaky skin on your lips, gently exfoliate them before you apply a coat of lip liner or lipstick.
To exfoliate, apply an exfoliating balm onto your lips and use your finger to rub it in a circular motion. Remove the excess balm before applying makeup.8
2. Apply Lip Balm
Before you apply lip color, add moisture with a lip balm. Dab on a dollop of lip balm and smooth it over your lips. This may help smooth over crevices on your lips so your liner can go on evenly.9
3. Apply A Lip Primer (Optional)
To ensure a uniform color, you may want to apply a primer on your lips. You can use your everyday concealer or foundation for this. Just dab it on with a clean finger, concealer brush, or foundation brush. Taking this step may help your lip makeup last longer.10
4. Add A Coat Of Foundation Around Lips (Optional)
Some professional makeup artists recommend that you dot concealer or foundation on the skin around your lips before you apply liner. This might help you achieve a flawless edge with your lip liner application.11
3a. Apply Lip Liner For A Natural Lip Look
This application method is useful if your goal is to naturally define your lip shape or prevent color bleeding. It works great with daytime makeup and nude lipstick.
- Using a nude liner color, draw an “x” on your cupid’s bow, matching the center of the “x” with the top “v” of your upper lip.
- From the top of the “x”, draw a diagonal line down to the outer corners of your lips.
- Line the center portion of your lower lips with liner using short, light strokes.
- Extend the lower line to the corners of your lips.
- Lightly fill in the center of your lips with the liner.
- Optional: finish with a natural color lipstick or a colored lip balm.12
3b. Apply Lip Liner for a Full Lip Look
This application method is for the moments when you want to accentuate your lips and give the illusion of a fuller pout. It uses a method called “overlining” – which means you’re drawing the line a tiny bit outside of your normal lip area.
- Before you start, cover your entire lip area with concealer or foundation. This will help conceal your natural lip line and help it look more natural when you draw outside of it.
- Follow the “x” method above, but this time, push your line ever so slightly outside your natural lip line. Use restraint here, and keep your line close so it doesn’t look unnatural.
- Apply lipstick to your lips. A lighter color of matte lipstick may help your lips look more plump.
- Apply lip gloss to the center of your lips, where your top and bottom lips meet. Choose a shade that is 2-3 shades lighter than your lip liner color. This highlight can help provide contrast and give the illusion of a fuller pout.13,14
3c. Apply Lip Liner for a Bold Lip Look
If you plan to rock a bold lip, you’ll want to use lip liner to help keep the edges crisp and prevent the color from fading. Don’t forget to prep your lips and apply a primer (like concealer) when you’re creating this look.
- Grab a colored lip liner that matches your brightly-colored lipstick. Use the “x” method to accentuate your cupid’s bow and fully line your lips.
- Fill in the center of your lips with your liner. This technique will create a base for lipstick that will help it stay put for longer.
- Blot your lips together to blend out the color and smooth out your line.
- Apply your bullet of lipstick to the center of your lips.
- (Optional) For a more defined edge, go back in with your liner and re-trace your cupid’s bow.
- Blot your lipstick and be sure to bring it with you to re-apply throughout the day.15,16
You Got This
There you have it: three application methods that can give you a natural, full, or bold look. Each method is totally doable and will help give you the dreamiest pout. Still intimidated? Start slow, give yourself plenty of time, and have fun with it. You’ll be a pro in no time.