For those of us who lived through the early ‘90s, the phrase “lip liner” can have negative connotations. At the time, it seemed the only — or at least most prevalent — use of lip pencils was for outlining lips in a highly contrasting way. No matching your lipstick (if you were even wearing any), no blending — just, “Hi, I’m wearing lip liner.” So when that trend ceased to be trendy, it felt like lip pencils might fall out of favor, too.
Luckily, in the years since, lip liners have proven they can do so much more than just obviously line lips. In addition to creating a more defined border in a matching or contrasting shade, they can make lips appear fuller through overlining, serve as a matte base for lipstick that amplifies or adjusts its color while helping hold onto it like a primer, or add to an ombré effect — a softer update to the obviously-outlined look. Truly, lip pencils have more than redeemed themselves.
“I am a huge fan of lip liner. It’s one of the unsung heroes of the beauty world,” says Robin Black, the makeup artist behind Beauty is Boring. “Whether I want to fill in and completely change a lip shape or just add a bit of color on for a subtle look, I reach for lip liner.”
Below, you’ll find makeup-artist must-have lip pencils, editor favorites, new heroes, and indispensable classics that belong in your lip wardrobe.
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