No matter how small my bag is, there are always three makeup items that I have with me at all times: lipstick or balm, a mini perfume and a lip liner. Anything else that finds its way in there is an added bonus, but these are what I consider to be my absolute essentials. And while for some, lip liner might feel like one step too far when it comes to a low-maintenance makeup routine, I simply can’t wear anything on my lips (be it balm or lipstick) without lip liner anymore. And this is why.
A lip liner has the undeniable power to elevate your lip look from basic to “wow” in mere moments. Even if I’m just wearing a balm, I’ll apply a neutral-brown lip liner first, and then blend it in with one of the many lip balms that I have lurking around. This simple pairing might sound unassuming, but it provides much-needed definition to my lips. Without this extra step, I genuinely feel like my lips really blend in with the rest of my face. Plus, the combination of lip liner and balm creates a kind of custom lip shade, which I’m very much here for.
If I’m opting for a bolder shade of lipstick, however, then a lip liner becomes even more crucial for a neat finish with no feathering or bleeding at the edges. For deeper or brighter colours, I trace the edges of my lips with a liner and then scribble it over my whole lip—kind of as a primer base—before topping with my chosen lipstick. Trust me when I say that this will extend the lasting power of your lipstick. Even if I’m tucking into food, my lip colour is still intact.
So at this point, I think it’s safe to say that I am a true lip liner connoisseur. And while I’ve tried hundreds (it’s really not an exaggeration), these are the only ones I rate and recommend.
Shop the best lip liners:
1. Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk Intense
While plumping my lips isn’t on top of my agenda, this lip liner has the perfect array of nude colours to fake a more defined neutral lip.
2. Urban Decay Glide-On Lip Pencil in 1993
Hitting the water? This lip liner glides on (hence the name). Plus, it’s completely waterproof.
3. Vieve Lip Definer
Despite being matte, this liner is super creamy and long-lasting. The five neutral shades offer a nude for every skin tone.
4. Huda Beauty Lip Contour 2.0
Pop this in your handbag, and you don’t need to worry if it’s sharpened or not, as there’s a sharpener built directly into the cap. The formula is highly pigmented, making it a perfect base for any lip look.
5. Clinique Quickliner For Lip Intense
Clinique wasn’t lying when it named this liner. The wind-up mechanism and the creamy formula mean it’s so quick to apply on the go.
6. Emolyne Cosmetics Lip Definer
The broad selection of colours in this range is perfect for fans of red lipsticks. Whatever undertone you prefer, there’s a hue to suit you.
7. Sleek Makeup Super Precise Lip Liner-Locked Up
If defining your lip line is paramount, then this is for you. The tip is so pointy that it’s a cinch to accentuate your Cupid’s bow.
8. NYX Professional Makeup Slide On Lip Liner Pencil
Waterproof and long-lasting, this pencil is great for keeping lipstick from feathering.
9. MAC Lip Pencil in Chestnut
This is such a classic liner, and there are so many shades to pick from that you’re bound to find a match for the MAC lipstick that you’re pairing it with.
10. UOMA Beauty Badass Matte Filler Lip Liner
On the hunt for a matte liner with staying power that doesn’t flake? This is one is really pigmented and doesn’t tug on the lips.
11. DIOR Contour Lip Liner Pencil
This luxury lip liner promises eight hours of wear and no transfer, which makes it perfect for mask-wearing.
12. Maybelline Color Sensational Shaping Lip Liner
The affordability of this liner makes it a great choice to throw into your handbag.
13. Beauty Bay Lip Liner
This liner is such a steal at only £3, and the formula is totally smudge-proof, despite it being so creamy to apply.
14. Pat Mcgrath Labs PermaGel Ultra Lip Pencil
Yes, it’s a luxury makeup product, but I have truly never found a pencil that glides on as well. Use it to amplify your natural lip line with ease.
15. Bobbi Brown Art Stick
This is a hybrid between lipstick and liner, so it’s perfect for an all-in-one lip look.
16. NYX Professional Makeup Lip Liner Pencil
This buttery-soft formula lasts all day without bleeding or feathering.
Up next: This is the only makeup product I’m wearing right now, and it’s game-changing.