5 Lip Liner Mistakes That Could Be Sabotaging Your Lipstick Look
Avoid these blunders for the perfect pout.
Lipstick shouldn't be feared. In fact, we'd argue that it should be used way more frivolously than it currently is. There's never been a better time to swipe on a glamorous red lip for a dinner with the girls, find your new favorite neutral to depend on through thick and thin, or experiment with something out of your comfort zone (matte finish, anyone?) for the first time. For that, start with our recommendations for The 10 Best Lipsticks to Wear Fearlessly in 2021.
However, there are some undeniable tips that will help you make sure any lipstick goes on flawlessly and stays put for hours, and if we could suggest the most important of these flexible rules, it would be that one should always apply lip liner before wearing lipstick. Lip liner not only helps to designate the area in which you'll be applying lipstick, in order to help it glide on smoothly and tidy, but it also helps to ensure your lipstick doesn't bleed outside your lips and has a longer-wear finish. This remains true no matter if you're wearing a creamy formula, matte finish, classic tube, or liquid lipstick.
However, if wielded incorrectly, lip liner can actually have the opposite effect and leave your lipstick looking worse for wear. This year, it's time to find your inner fearless lipstick alter ego, and you can kick it off by making sure you don't run into any of these top lip liner blunders.
Here are 5 lip liner mistakes to never make.
1. Skipping it because you don't have the matching color
The best advice on choosing a lip liner is two-fold. Firstly, you should find a signature neutral-ish lip liner that will go with anything. You don't have to exactly match your skin tone, but try to stay in that range. For shopper-loved universal shades, look to favorites like Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Pillow Talk or Iconic Nude and NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Natural or Nude Beige. Even if you're applying a red or pink lipstick afterwards, it will still do the job. Just make sure to blend out well (more on that below) and thoroughly cover any lined area with lipstick, so that no neutral is peeking through. Secondly, if you're wearing a particular lipstick shade for an event or anything important, it's not a bad idea to pick up the matching lip liner shade or something that is closer to the color than your neutral. This is particularly recommended if wearing a bold shade like red, fuchsia, or bright pink.
2. Forgetting to blend it out
Unless you're going for a 1990s brown liner look. You know, when we used to layer with a frosted purple lip gloss? No? Then, blending is essential, even when using the exact matching shade to your lipstick. After completing the initial lip line, you simply take the liner and continue to fill in your lips, moving towards the center of your pout. Do this until at least the outer third of your lips is covered lightly with lip liner. Then, use your finger to buff it out towards the center of your lips. Do NOT buff the outer line. The goal is to create an ombré shading inside the lips, but to maintain a crisp, smooth outer line.
3. Using a heavy hand
Let's go more along the lines of "light as a feather." First, come at your lip line at a 45 degree angle (instead of pressing directly straight down). Using continuous motion and small strokes, use feather-light pressure to start drawing on the lip liner. Repeat until the entire lip line is finished. Go back to spots that need a little more pigment. Remember: small, light strokes! By the way, starting with a base of hydrating lip balm will help your lip liner glide on better, as well as your lipstick afterwards.
4. Underlining your lips
In general, hugging too close inside your lip line in the hopes of avoiding any overlining won't do your pout any favors. In fact, if you happen to accidentally overline just a little bit, odds are it won't be noticeable. It'll just give you a slightly plumper look. Keep it subtle, keep it as close to your natural lip line as possible (unless you want to overline on purpose for a more voluptuous lip look), and always proceed with cautious confidence!
5. Not keeping your lip liner properly sharpened
A blunt tip on your lip liner is as good as using a handful of butter in a biscuit recipe when it calls for exactly half a stick. Not precise enough. You don't want your tip to be razor-sharp, which can result in a harsh line if used with too much pressure — however, you want it to be sharp enough to produce a focused, pigmented line that doesn't look muddled or like it's bleeding outside your lip line.
Use these tips to master lip liner once and for all. Your lipstick — and ensuing confidence wearing lipstick — will thank you later.