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 is. Swipe on a glamorous red lip, find your new favorite neutral to depend on through thick and thin, or experiment with something out of your comfort zone. For that, start with our recommendations for The 10 Best Lipsticks to Wear Fearlessly in 2021.

One of the most important lipstick rules is 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, but it also helps to ensure your lipstick doesn't bleed and has a longer-wear finish—no matter if it's 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. Here are 5 lip liner tips.

Lip Liner Mistakes
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Don't Worry About Matching

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.

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.

Use a Gentle 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.

Don't Underline 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!

Stay Sharp

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.

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