Unlike your cherry red lipstick or that bold, vivid eyeliner you bought to make your eyes pop, lip liner is rarely (if ever) the focus of your makeup look. In fact, if done right, you may not even notice it’s there. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth using. On the contrary, lip liner can be a huge asset to your makeup routine—that is, of course, if you know how to apply it properly. Here, we’ll give you the run-down on lip liner, explaining its (surprisingly varied) benefits and how to use lip liner the right way. Whether you like it bold and bright or soft and subtle, learn how to apply lip liner like a seasoned pro, ahead.
What Is The Point Of Lip Liner?
The main purpose of lip liner is to help prevent your lipstick from bleeding—it almost acts as a barrier between your skin and your lips, helping to keep your lip color in place. When traced directly along your lip line, liner can also help emphasize the natural shape of your lips.
However, lip liners can also be used in other ways. You can over-line your lips to fake a fuller pout or use liner in place of lipstick (it can look great worn alone or layered under gloss!) for long-lasting color.
What Is The Best Way To Apply Lip Liner?
Before you start applying your lip liner, there are a few things you’ll want to have at the ready. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Lip scrub
- Lip balm or oil
- Your chosen lip liner
- Lip gloss or lipstick
- Concealer and an angled brush for touch-ups
- A sharpener, if using a lip pencil
Once you’ve gathered your tools, you can get started on your lip look. Here, learn how to line your lips with our step-by-step lip liner tutorial.
Step 1: Plan Your Look
First and foremost, mentally map out your desired look. For example, do you want to emphasize your lip shape? Are you looking to create a natural lip look, or do you want to rock something bolder? Answering these questions can help you narrow down exactly what you want to achieve, making your entire lip routine easier.
Step 2: Prep Your Lips
Lip products generally apply best on smooth, soft lips, and liner is no exception—pigment can cling to dead skin, resulting in a patchy appearance. As such, we recommend starting by exfoliating with our #ThisIsEverything Lip Scrub. Gently rub the jojoba oil-infused scrub onto your lips, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Follow with lip balm (we recommend #ThisIsEverything Lip Balm) for added hydration—just be sure to let it absorb before applying your lip liner for the best results.
Step 3: Trace Your Lip Line
Next, uncap your lip liner and sharpen it with our Sharpener, if necessary. Placing the tip at the center of your cupid’s bow, begin tracing your lip line. Take your time with your outlining—the more carefully you work, the less likely it is you’ll need to correct any mistakes down the line.
Pro Tip: If you’re after a natural lip liner look, you can use your finger to blur the edges of your lip liner ever-so-slightly. This helps soften the line and offers a more diffused, blended finish.
Step 4: Apply Your Lip Color
Next, apply your preferred lip color as usual. If you’re using our Suede Matte Lip Liner, we recommend pairing it with the coordinating Suede Matte Lipstick shade—they’re quite literally made for each other. Using coordinated shades will help give you a natural, seamless lip look.
For a ‘90s-inspired lip, try pairing a chocolatey brown lip liner, such as Slim Lip Pencil in Mahogany, with a lighter brown lipstick (we love Lip Lingerie XXL Matte Liquid Lipstick in Hot Carmelo). Or, rock a low-key look by lining your lips with your favorite shade of our Line Loud Vegan Longwear Lip Liner and topping it with the tinted or clear lip gloss of your choice. The choice is yours, so feel free to experiment with different color combinations until you find your dream duo.
Step 5: Clean Up The Edges
Even if you follow our lip liner tutorial to the letter, you may find that your lines aren’t quite as even or sharp as you want. And that’s totally fine—it’s pretty easy to clean up minor imperfections with concealer. Dip a small, angled brush (we recommend our Pro Angled Brush) into your go-to concealer and slowly drag it around the edges of your lips to clean up any smudges or imperfections. If you do end up doing this, be sure to blend your concealer well with the rest of your base makeup for a seamless look.
How To Make Your Lips Look Fuller With Lip Liner
As we mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of lip liner is that it can be used to fake a plumper-looking pout. This is done via a technique known as overlining, which involves drawing beyond your natural lip line. Here, learn how to make your lips look fuller in four steps.
Step 1: Overline Your Lips
First, start tracing your lips as outlined in the tutorial above. Then, using the pencil's tip, extend the liner slightly beyond your natural lip line wherever you want to add volume. Note that you generally don’t want to extend the overdrawn line all the way to the outer corners of your mouth, as doing so can look a bit clown-like. Instead, work slowly and find a natural point to blend the over-drawn line with your natural lip line.
Pro Tip: Want a well-defined cupid’s bow? Try drawing an “X” on the cupid’s bow before overlining your lips (this has the dual benefit of making your lips look a little plumper).
Step 2: Add a Slightly Lighter Lipstick
After applying your liner, swipe on a lipstick two to three shades lighter than your chosen liner—the contrast will help add to the illusion of fullness. Try pairing Suede Matte Lip Liner in Cannes and Lip Lingerie XXL Matte Liquid Lipstick in Turn On for a softer daytime look, or combine Slim Lip Pencil in Plum and Soft Matte Lip Cream in Budapest for a bolder berry lip.
Step 3: Top With Lip Gloss
To really plump up the appearance of your pout, we recommend applying a clear lip gloss (like Butter Gloss in Sugar Glass) to the center of your upper and lower lips. The reflectivity of this smooth, buttery gloss can help your lips appear more pouty and voluminous.
Step 4: Contour and Highlight
You may not think to contour your lips, but trust us: Doing so can make them look extra plump. First, use your go-to contour shade to draw a small line just beneath the center of your bottom lip, at the top of your chin. Blend it out well—done properly, it should appear as if your lip is casting a shadow, which makes it look fuller.
Once you’re satisfied with your contour, grab your favorite Wonder Pencil shade and use the shimmering highlight to trace along the uppermost part of your cupid’s bow. Whereas the contour creates a “shadow,” the highlight helps draw attention to your upper lip, making it appear subtly plumper.
How Do I Make My Lip Liner Stay?
Lip liner is typically designed to resist bleeding, but that doesn’t mean it’s 100% budge-proof. Plus, it never hurts to have backup! Keep reading to learn our favorite tricks for keeping your lip liner in place.
Fill In Your Lips With Liner
If you want a super long-lasting lip look, try filling in the whole of your lips with your liner, rather than just tracing your lip line. For the most long-wearing look, we recommend reaching for a waterproof lip liner, such as Line Loud Vegan Longwear Lip Liner, which glides on easily with a smooth, creamy feel.
Try a Long-Wearing Matte Lipstick
Pairing your lip liner with a long-lasting matte lipstick can help prolong wear. To get the most mileage out of your lip look, try Lip Lingerie XXL Matte Liquid Lipstick—it offers up to 16 hours of transfer-resistant wear , making it our longest-lasting lip color.
Set With Translucent Powder
Setting powder isn’t just for your face. Adding a little bit to your lips after swiping on your color can help keep lipstick from bleeding, fading, or smudging. Instead of putting the powder directly on your lips, try setting a clean tissue over your mouth, then dusting your powder on top of that. This helps to ensure you don’t overdo it with the powder and minimizes the potential for a cakey finish.
Next: Now that you know how to do lip liner like a pro, learn how to highlight your face with our article Where To Put Highlighter: 9 Tips For a Lit Makeup Look.