The Right Way To Use Lip Liner


Photo: Luca Cannonieri/

I saw a woman on the subway yesterday who sported brown lip liner and nude lipstick. It’s that 90s era mistake (okay, well maybe it wasn’t a mistake back then) that gives lip liner the bad rap it has now. But used correctly, it can be a multipurpose product that deserves a place in your beauty routine. Here are a few of my favorite lip liner tips:

1. Use pencil as a lip primer.
One of my biggest pet peeves is lipstick that doesn’t last the day. Lip primers are a lifesaver, but why buy another product when a lip liner will do the same thing? Fill in the entire lip with liner (not just the edges) before applying lipstick for a look that lasts. Liner sticks better on clean surfaces, so make sure you’re not wearing lip balm before you apply.

2. Match your lip color, or go lighter.
So you don’t accidentally repeat the 90s fad, make sure your liner is the same color as or lighter than your lipstick. Like foundation, lip liner is a hidden step. No one should know you’re wearing it.

3. Repurpose last season’s lipstick.
One exception to the lighter liner rule is if you want to update an out-of-season color. Fill in your lips with red pencil, then layer your favorite summer pink lipstick over it to subtly adjust the shade. I do this all the time with my favorite bright fuchsia shade. But make sure to…

4. Soften the edges with a Q-tip.
To avoid a harsh line around the lip, dab a Q-tip around the edges to soften the look. Remember, subtlety is key.

Lip Liners To Try

Too Faced Perfect Lips Lip Liner ($17, has a twist-up tip so you always have a sharp end without the hassle of sharpening. And the collection includes five shades that cover the entire lip color spectrum.

La Prairie Luxe Lip Liner Automatique ($50, is also retractable, and as an added bonus, it has a brush on the other side to blend and soften any sharp lines.

Will you pick up a pencil?