lip makeup How to Use Lip Liner the Right Way

Once you identify your lip shape it’s quick and easy.

December 07, 2022
How To Use Lip Liner


If you forgo lip liner in favor of applying lipstick directly onto your bare lips you’re doing yourself and your makeup routine a disservice. Not only does lip liner define the shape of your lips but it also acts as a base for your lipstick, leading to longer-lasting color and preventing bleeding lipstick, smudging and feathering. Not to mention, if you want to fake the appearance of fuller lips, you need lip liner to master this hack. In short, it’s a must-have for precise, plump and velvety-looking lipstick.


With that said, the right way to line your lips really depends on their shape. So, if you’re in need of a refresher, take notes as we share how to use lip liner the right way. Whether you’re looking to overline your lips, contour your lips or simply line them for lipstick application, let this serve as your guide.

How to Apply Lip Liner

While using lip liner seems pretty self-explanatory, the way you apply it should largely depend on your lip shape. If you have a defined cupid’s bow, you shouldn’t be lining your lips the same way someone with round lips would. A simple switch in technique to suit your features can make all the difference in the end result. Here’s our step-by-step guide to lining your lips.


1. Determine Your Lip Shape

Once you identify your lip shape, your lip lining skills are going to go up a few notches. If you’re not sure what your lip shape is, grab a mirror and look. Do you have a defined cupid’s bow? If so, you’ll want to focus on highlighting that V shape in the middle of your upper lip and keeping your application extra precise.  


Is your bottom lip fuller than the top lip? Then, you’ll want to be generous when you line your upper lip, slightly adding volume at the corners with your lip liner. Ultimately, once you know the shape of your lips, then you can line them accordingly and your lipstick application is going to look instantaneously better. 


2. Pick a Shade of Lip Liner

Ideally, you want to pick a lip liner two shades darker than your lipstick. This adds subtle contouring and shading to your lips without taking away from the color of your lipstick. A matte lip liner like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Matte Lip Liner pairs well with matte lipstick whereas a satin lip liner like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lip Liner or the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Makeup Anti-Feathering Lip Liner - Smooth Application will pair well with a satin lipstick or a gloss. 


3. Line Your Lips

If you have a defined cupid’s bow, start by applying an X in the center of your top lip and drag the liner outwards, following your natural lip line until you reach the corners. 


If you don’t have a defined cupid’s bow, you can start in the corner, simply following the shape of your natural lip line as you drag the liner across your upper lip. If you prefer to use a brush, apply the liner to your lips and use the brush to drag it along your natural lip line. 


Once you’ve successfully lined your top lip, repeat these steps on the bottom lip. If you have a thin upper or bottom lip, add volume near the corners of your mouth by applying the lip liner slightly outside your natural lip line. 


Editor’s tip: If you’re rocking vampy lipstick or a sultry shade of deep red and you want an ultra-precise line, grab a pointed brush and concealer. Take a dot of concealer and use your brush to carve the shape of your lips, blurring any wayward lip liner and perfecting the shape. You’ll get the best results with a full-coverage concealer like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Full Wear Concealer up to 24H Full Coverage.


4. Fill Your Lips

Once you’ve lined the shape of your lips, fill in the empty space with your lip liner and top that off with a lipstick of your choice. We recommend something ultra-pigmented and smudge-proof like L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Les Nus by Colour Riche Intense Nude Lipstick, which glides onto the lips with a pillowy, smooth finish and luxurious color. 


If you want to add an element of shine, layer a gloss like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro Gloss Plump on top.


Next: The 12 Hottest Lipstick Trends to Try This Winter


Written by: Reece Andavolgyi, Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Prop Stylist: Catherine Pearson, Prop Assistant: Lindsay Jones