A new lipstick is a great way to step up your makeup game, but you can’t really enjoy it fully without the right lip liner. Lip liners create a sharp outline around your lips and prevent lipstick from bleeding. The best lip liners also allow easier application of lipstick, intensify the color, fill in fine lines and create a more dramatic shape to your lips.
But what brands are the best of the best? And are high-end lip liners really worth it? Or can a drugstore lip liner do the trick?
In this article, we'll answer all of these questions - and more - so that you'll know exactly how to find the right lip liner for you.
What is a Lip Liner?
Lip liner is a cosmetic product used to shape, define, and fill in the lips before applying lipstick. It’s also used to create a fuller look, as the contrast between lip liner and lipstick makes your lips appear bigger.
Lip liners can come in several forms including:
- Retractable or twist-up lip liners
- Traditional pencil liners
- Crayon lip liners
A good lip liner should have an applicator tip that’s thin enough for precision application but not so thin that it breaks easily when sharpening with a pencil sharpener (which you’ll need to do regularly for the best application results). Lip liners usually come with built-in sharpeners at one end. Some brands offer retractable versions that let you carry them around without worrying about losing pieces if they break off while sharpening. Crayon liners are typically chubby sticks that have a creamy finish, and can also double as lipstick.
Lip liners are available in many different colors from neutral shades like browns, blacks, and reds to more vibrant ones like purples and greens. They can also be clear or infused with shimmery flecks of glitter for added glamor on special occasions. There’s basically an entire rainbow full of beautiful colors to choose from, for any look, anytime.
Top Lip Liner Shades
Red, pink, nude, purple – you name it, there’s a lip liner for your preferences and style. But what colors are the top liner shades on the market, and what is trending? We’ve gathered up a bounty of shades we’re loving, and ones we’re seeing on our Feeds, plus we want to share the best ways to wear these colors!
Black Lip Liner
Black lip liner: The must-have for creating a dramatic lip. Black lip liner isn’t just for Halloween – you can bring the drama to an everyday look.
Black lip liner is great for layering under vampy wine colors or accentuating a gothic, dramatic all-black look. And if you’re into bold liner looks and bold lipstick (who isn’t?), black lip liner’s versatility means that it can be used in many different ways-it can even pull double duty as an eye pencil!
Natural Lip Liner
Whether you have fair or deep skin tones, or somewhere in between, the right natural lip liner can be the perfect complement to a nude lipstick look. Natural lip liner is all about accenting your natural lip color and creating subtle definition. If you’re looking for a soft look that isn’t too overstated, then a natural lip liner is perfect for you!
White Lip Liner
For those who are new to the world of white lip liner, it may seem like an intimidating product but once you learn how to use it properly and find the right shade for you, it can become one of your favorite tools in creating different looks.
White lip liner can offer you:
- A way to create a bright base for your lipstick
- Used to highlight the cupid’s bow and make your lips look fuller
- Add definition to your lips and create sharp edges on your lipstick
Just remember to blend the edges of your lips with the white lip liner to avoid patchiness and blotchiness.
Dark Red Lip Liner
One color that will never go out of style? A deep, dark red lip liner. This lip liner is a great way to define your lips and prevent your deep-toned lipstick from bleeding out of them.
Be sure to choose a dark red lip liner that is close to the shade of your lipstick so you can create a seamless look.
For a more dramatic look, choose a deep red lip liner darker than your lipstick. This will create an even deeper shade of red and make your lips appear fuller. If you have naturally thin lips, this is a great way to make them appear larger.
Dark Pink Lip Liner
If you’re looking to experiment with a new lip liner, dark pink is a great place to start. It’s easiest to apply with a brush or a lip pencil and provides a bolder look than your standard nude liner. The color can be used to fill in the lips, creating an even layer of color that complements the skin tone underneath.
Dark pinks also look great when applied outside of the natural line of your lips (overlining). This makes for a fuller look without wearing lipstick on its own – just add gloss!
Dark Nude Lip Liner
If you’re looking to add some serious pout power to your look, the dark nude lip liner is a great way to do just that. This type of lip liner can be used on its own or as a base for other lip products, like lipstick or gloss.
Darker nude shades are perfect for nailing the nude lip look on deeper skin tones, and they’ll give you a smooth canvas to work with while also providing warmth and dimension.
Dark Skin Brown Lip Liner
Tired of your lips looking like they’re missing something? Dark brown lip liner is a great way to fill them in and make them appear fuller. For a soft, natural look, pair dark brown lip liner with nude lipstick and gloss. You can even mix and match the two to create your own unique combo.
Natural Pink Lip Liner
Natural pink lip liners are a must-have for those who want to add a pop of color without looking too overdone. They’re especially popular among makeup artists, who use them on brides during their wedding day. A natural pink lip liner can also be used as an alternative to lipstick or gloss: it’s more subtle than lipstick yet still has enough pigment and sheen to make your lips look great.
The benefits of using a natural pink lip liner are that they look great on everyone – no matter what skin tone you have!
Best High-End Lip Liners
If you’re in the market for a high-end lip liner, look no further than the following recommendations. These liners are made with high-quality ingredients and have a smooth application that makes them easy to use. Additionally, they are long-lasting and blend nicely with other products in your makeup stash so you can create an endless array of looks.
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Liners
Looking for a smooth, hydrating way to seal in your pout? Try one of the 15 shades from Charlotte Tilbury’s Lip Cheat Lip Liner collection. This lip liner creates a seamless line and resizes and reshapes your lips for a fuller pout. A waterproof, non-smudge formula that won’t feather or transfer makes it last up to six hours. There’s a color for every lip, from neutrals to reds, berries to beige. Wear it alone or with a gloss. It has a rich, velvety texture that layers comfortably on the lips.
Some of our favorite shade options for Charlotte Tilbury lip liners include:
- Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Iconic Nude
- Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Walk of No Shame
- Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Hot Gossip
- Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Foxy Brown
Buxom Lip Liners
In addition to lip plumper glosses, Buxom Cosmetics offers a wide range of cosmetics, including lip liners, lipsticks, blushes, and more. They pride themselves on offering high-quality cruelty-free makeup. Focused on helping you find the confidence to go all in and be yourself, their products are definitely popular in the beauty community.
There are two Buxom lip liner formats, with a wide variety of shades between them to choose from:
- Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner: A traditional pencil-style lip liner with a built-in brush for contouring, filling and defining lips.
- Buxom Power Line Lip Liner: A retractable chisel-shaped lip liner featuring a built-in brush for easy blending.
Makeup Forever Lip Liners
Products that pull double duty are favorites for on-the-go touch-ups and makeup minimalists alike. And when they can do three things in one? Now that’s a makeup bag hero! These handy pencils from fan-favorite Makeup Forever are not only a lip liner but an eye and brow pencil in one, too. Choose an all-over nude, or opt for one of the other 39 shades – from dark green to warm magenta. This is a traditional pencil-style liner, so be sure you have a good pencil sharpener on hand.
Some of our favorite Makeup Forever lip liner shades include:
- Artist Color Pencil in Completely Sepia
- Artist Color Pencil in Up & Down Tan
- Artist Color Pencil in Endless Cacao
Got a dried-out lip liner or eye pencil, and color just isn't gliding on as it should? You can soften the pencil's tip by rubbing or rolling it between your fingers. This only takes a few seconds and will make the lip liner glide smoothly on your skin.
Morphe Lip Liners
Pulling double duty is a breeze for this lip liner-slash-eyeliner from Morphe. With a whopping 48 shades to choose from, including neutral pinks and nudes, and bold oranges, their formula glides on and offers an affordable, yet high-quality product for makeup lovers. We love how versatile this range of shades is, and we like that it’s so smooth and creamy.
There are so many shades of Morphe lip liners to choose from, but some of the most popular shades are their range of nude-toned liners:
- Backseat Love
Lancôme Natural Mauve Lip Liners
Lancôme is a French company that has been offering high-end cosmetics, skincare, and fragrances since the 1930s, cementing their status as one of the world’s major luxury beauty brands. They offer a wide range of products, including several iterations of lip liner products made with quality ingredients and offering a wide range of shades for lips and looks of all kinds.
There are three Lancôme lip liners to choose from:
- Lancôme Le Lip Liner: With a built-in brush, this self-sharpening lip liner is formulated with jojoba oil and vitamin E for a rich, hydrating color.
- Lancôme Le Lipstique: A lip liner and lipstick in one, this product prevents feathering and offers all-day wear alone or under a gloss or lipstick, and features a handy brush, too.
- Lancôme Le Crayon: A simple self-sharpening lip liner offering a creamy finish, this pencil is fine and can be worn all day without feathering.
As rich and creamy as these lip liners are, the price tag may not be for everyone. Coming in over $40, these lip products’ prices are not for the faint of heart.
Best Drugstore Lip Liners
Today, there are many brands available that are offering great lip products under $10! Drugstore lip liners are great for everyday use. They’re affordable and easy to find, which makes it very convenient for you if you don’t want to spend too much money on your makeup. You can also use them to create various looks.
These liners can be used on their own or with other products such as lipstick, glosses, and so forth. Oftentimes, drugstore lip liners are just as good as expensive options – so don’t feel like they’re a low-quality product or a cheapskate option.
NYX Natural Lip Liners
NYX Cosmetics has a slew of hit products that have a cult following from beauty lovers on a budget. We love how many of their lip products (we’re looking at you, Soft Matte Lip Creams) have been all-time makeup bag faves of ours for years, and their lip liners are no exception.
NYX has a wide variety of lip liners with a range of formulations:
- Suede Matte Lip Liner: A range of velvet matte lip pencils designed to match their Suede Matte Lipsticks.
- Slim Lip Pencil: Long-wearing, the buttery soft formula applies easily and resists feathering.
- Slide-On Lip Pencil: A traditional lip pencil that glides on super smoothly and delivers a matte finish with strong pigmentation.
- Retractable Lip Pencil: Offering a twist-up, retractable format with a wide range of shades and long-wearing creamy formula.
- Line Loud Vegan Longwear Lip Liner: A vegan, smudge-resistant formula infused with jojoba oil and vitamin E for smoother, softer-looking lips and easy blending.
NYX Nude Truffle Lip Liner
A warm brown shade of lip liner perfect for deep skin tones who want to make a flawless nude look, or those who want to try the 90s lip liner trend we have been seeing everywhere this year.
NYX Sandstorm Lip Liner
Offering a matte complement to your lipsticks this shade of the Suede Matte Lip Liner is a rich, creamy brown that would be a great liner for nude lipstick looks on medium to deep skin tones.
NYX Nutmeg Lip Liner
Spicy like the name sounds, this shade from their line of Slim Lip Pencils is warm and inviting. We love the idea of pairing it with a glossy lip shade like NYX’s This is Milky Gloss in Milk the Coco for an effortless, nude-brown chic look.
NYX Soft Spoken Lip Liner
Pair this cozy brown shade with the long-running fan favorite Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in the matching shade Soft-Spoken, and you’ve got yourself a perfect lip look. We love the fact that this line makes it foolproof to find the perfect match to your lip liner by pairing each lip liner shade with an accompanying NYX lip product.
NYX Espresso Lip Liner
We espresso-ly love this shade of lip liner! It’s so deep and doesn’t read ashy or gray, and is perfect for complementing cool-toned looks and deep skin tones. This is a true deep brown and is definitely a flexible lip liner shade to have in your arsenal of beauty products.
NYX Cold Brew Lip Liner
We’re not giving this lip liner shade the cold shoulder! We love the deep, rich tones of this shade of brown. You could easily pair this with plum or purple-toned lipstick or go more subtle and matchy-matchy with brown lipstick or gloss.
NYX Natural Lip Liner
Who doesn’t need a soft beige shade like this in their makeup bag? With so many possibilities for creating lip looks from nude to soft pinks, this is one lip liner you can count on as versatile and flexible. For fair to medium skin tones, it would make for the perfect nude lip liner.
Milani Lip Liners
If you’re someone who needs to ball on a budget, Milani is the brand for you. With high-quality products at attractive prices, this brand has a wide range of options to fill your makeup bag and that definitely includes some lip liners!
Milani has three primary lip liner products, with a few key differences between them.
|Product||Easyliner Mechanical Lip Liner Pencil||Understatement Lip Liner||Color Statement Lip Liner|
Revlon Lip Liners
When Revlon was founded in 1932, they started by selling nail enamels, but today have just about every hair and beauty product category available, including a signature lip liner that comes in at an exceptional price – under $10.
The 16 different shades include a range of reds, pinks, nudes, purples, and browns. The twist-up format means you can skip the sharpeners, and the formula is rich and creamy. This makes it popular – so popular one ColorStay Longwear Lip Liner is sold in America every 20 seconds.
Wet N Wild Lip Liners
So many of us have turned to an affordable makeup option that actually works, and Wet N Wild has a bevy of products that can bring your full face together. Their lip liners definitely fit that bill and can take your lip look to the next level.
Wet N Wild has two great lip liners to choose from:
- Color Icon Liner: A fan fave for over 30 years, this traditional pencil liner is rich and creamy.
- Perfect Pout Gel Liner: A retractable gel liner made with a polymer formula for a glide-on, smooth experience.
As much as we like a sharp line for our eyeliner, when it comes to getting a smooth lip liner application, a little dull is actually better. The more soft and slightly dulled the tip is, the more seamlessly it will blend into your lips.
Palladio Lip Liners
A leading provider of affordable beauty products since 1999, Palladio offers a wide range of paraben-free, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and vegan options. This includes lip liners and complementing lipsticks with creamy formulas.
Palladio has three lip liners, including:
- Retractable lip liner: Long-lasting retractable lip liner with a creamy formula.
- Wooden lip liner: Traditional lip pencil with chamomile and aloe for a soft, yet firm application.
- Precision lip liner: Silicone-based pencil lip liner with strong pigmentation.
How to Apply Lip Liner Properly?
There are several steps to applying lip liner so you can get the best results and make sure that your lips look their best.
Here’s how to get an expert lip liner look:
- Start by exfoliating your lips with a lip scrub or sugar scrub. This will help smooth out any flaky skin that might get in the way of applying your liner.
- Apply a moisturizer or lip balm to hydrate and prep your lips, ensuring they are soft and supple for the application process.
- Use lip liner to help define the shape of your lips. Start from the edges of your lips and work your way toward the center of your lips. You can follow your natural lip line or slightly overline your lips for a full appearance. Emphasize your cupid’s bow by marking an ‘X’ shape from one side of the top of your lip to the other.
- Continue filling your lips in. You can either stop shading once the edges of your lips are covered or cover your whole lips.
- Soften the edges. You can use a lip brush to soften the lines before applying lipstick.
- Top your lip liner with lipstick or lip gloss, and your look is finished!
How to Get a 90s Lip Liner Look?
The 90s are back and better than ever at beauty counters everywhere. With trends like claw clips and straight-leg denim raging on Instagram and IRL, we’re not surprised 90s supermodel favorite lip liner looks are back, too.
The #tbt style look is all about choosing a warm brown liner just a little darker than your natural pout and pairing it with slightly lighter, neutral-toned, matte lipstick. Using a lip brush, blur and blend the liner toward the center of your lips-and voila! You’ve got yourself an ode to ’90s glamor in four easy steps.
If you want to amp up your 90s lip liner look, try adding a few coats of clear gloss on top. It’s a simple trick that will make your lips look plumper and fuller.
Lip liners are one of the most essential items in any makeup bag, but they’re often overlooked. The truth is that a proper lip liner can make or break a look, so it’s worth investing in one that will last you long enough to get tons of use out of it!
We’ve got some great suggestions for liners at every price point, as well as different types of formulas and colors to choose from. We hope this post helps you find the perfect liner for your next makeup adventure!