Why You Should Really Be Using Lip Pencils

Caitlin S. Miller
lip pencil story

Photo: ImaxTree

When you hear the word lip pencil, chances are the first thing you think of is an ’80s lip liner and a seriously overdrawn pout. And if you’re like us, the thought of a lip pencil actually sends you into a fit of panic—Should I be using this mysterious tool? Will I look like a clown? Am I Kylie Jenner yet? So when a delivery of perfectly sharpened lip pencils rolled onto our desks just begging to be used, we decided it was time to face our fears and consult a top makeup artist to get the lowdown on these pucker perfecters, once and for all.

According to Celebrity Makeup ArtistKira Nasrat—who has worked with Bryce Howard, Olivia Culpo, and Margot Robbie—lip pencils are essential for one’s cosmetic wardrobe. “Lip pencils are beneficial in a sense that when choosing the right shade and texture, you can create the illusion of a fuller lip by manipulating the shape,” she explains. This is especially great for anyone who wants to make their lips appear just a touch bigger. It’s also ideal to keep lipstick from bleeding, as well as making any lip color last longer. 

Finding the right formula
It’s important to note not all lip liners are created equal, says Nasrat. “You want to make sure you choose one that has a slight creamy texture,” she says. “That way it will glide on the lines of your lips without you tugging and pulling.” Now when it comes to crayon versus pencil dilemma, it really depends on the desired look. “Your lip pencil is your lipstick’s spouse, while your lip crayon is the love child of the two—a hybrid,” she explains. “You can achieve precision with both a pencil and a crayon depending on how sharpened your product is, but crayons I like to fill in the whole lip with.” Bottom line: A pencil is ideal for creating a fuller look and keeping the lipstick’s shape, while a crayon is ideal for keeping the lipstick in place and lasting.

What to buy
When it comes to figuring out what to actually buy, Nasrat says everyone should own (in this order, mind you): nude liner that matches your very natural own lip color, a red liner that goes with your favorite red lipstick, and a deep plum for the nights you want to go all vamp. Ultimately, the rule of thumb is to always match your lipsticks and lip liners, she says. Some of her favorites include Laura Mercier’s Lip Pencil ($23, lauramercier.com) and NARS’s Lip Pencil ($26, narscosmetics.com), which is really more of a crayon. However, if you’re still not sold on the whole lip liner thing, Nasrat suggests Lipstick Queen’s Invisible Lip Liner ($18, ulta.com). “It’s a clear liner that can give the illusion of a fuller pout and prevents the lipstick from bleeding,” she says. Plus, it’s clear so you can’t possibly overdo it!

How to apply
Because lip pencils are fairly versatile, the application process can differ just slightly depending on your needs. First and foremost, make sure the liner matches your lipstick shade or if you’re wanting a more natural touch, use one that matches your natural lip color. Those who simply want their lipstick to last longer can actually not only line their lips but fill them in and apply lipstick over it. “I call this beauty insurance,” she says. “It ensures the lifespan of the lipstick!”

However, those who want to create a fuller pout should use the pencil to line their lips just a tad over their actual lip line, says Nasrat. A good tip for getting an even application is to heat up the liner up. No, we don’t mean stick it in the microwave. Your own body heat will do. “I warm up the liner just a little bit on the back of my hand, so it goes on even smoother, and I start by first lining the lips’ natural line,” explains Nasrat. “Then I tweak the shape where it’s needed. Then I use a lip brush with the same color lipstick on it and blend the liner with the lipstick all over the lips.” Voila, it’s that simple!

More from Daily Makeover: 10 Lipsticks (That Aren’t Classic Red!) to Wear on Valentine’s Day