Lip liner is a tricky tool for many ladies, as images of darkly lined lips paired with pale gloss were prevalent in the past. However, while lip liner has often been misapplied, this versatile pencil is actually the perfect medium for prolonging lip color, preventing color migration, delineating your mouth and switching up your look on a budget.


By carefully following the natural contours of your mouth, lip liner can accentuate your lips and give them more prominence. While makeup guides in the past advised drawing outside the lines of the mouth to remold or plump uneven or thin lips, this results in a costume-like effect that is both aging and distracting. When lining your lips, carefully follow the natural shape of your lips, starting with the top lip and working your way slowly around the mouth.


Lip liner draws out the life of lipstick or gloss. The texture of the pencil’s pigment will give gloss and lipstick some grip, and the color of the liner will remain as lip products fade naturally throughout the day. When lining lips, make sure to fill the shape of the mouth in completely with the pencil; lining just the exterior of the mouth will leave an unattractive ring around the mouth when gloss or lipstick is gone. Pairing lip liner that matches your mouth with a colored lipstick results in a natural fade, while matching the liner to the color of the lip product enhances the vibrancy of the shade.

Banish Bleeding

Vibrant lip colors can be difficult to control, especially on mature skin. Often a lip product will seep into the tiny lines that rim the mouth. This process, called “bleeding” or “feathering,” can be prevented with the proper application of lip liner. After drawing lip liner around the lips, makeup artist Robert Jones recommends using your finger or a small lip brush to smudge the outline inward, fading the color toward the opening of the mouth. This will create a barrier around the lips to hold product in place. Fill the rest of the mouth in with the pencil then top with lipstick or gloss for a feather-free look.

Lipstick Alternative

Even when purchased in a drugstore, lipstick and gloss can be expensive, costing several dollars a tube. Lip liners are usually cheaper than a lipstick, with several drugstore brands delivering vibrant color and lasting coverage for less than a dollar pencil. Topped with clear lip balm, pencil-lined lips take on the sheen of a lipstick, while dabbing on a coat of clear gloss creates a high-impact colored gloss lip. You can pick up several inexpensive lip liner pencils for the cost of one lipstick, creating multiple looks for less.