Lip liner sometimes has a bit of an air of mystery around it. Sure, we know everyone, and their mother donned dark lip liner in the ‘90s, and we’re all aware that it can be used to line your lips. But beyond that, do you really need yet another lip product? Well, when used correctly, lip liner can play an integral role in your makeup routine—especially when it comes to helping your lipstick go the distance. Thankfully, if there’s one thing we aren’t keeping our lips sealed about, it’s lip liner. Here are 14 lip liner hacks to help you learn how to apply lip liner the right way.
LIP LINER HACK #1: PREP WITH LIP BALM
When it comes to learning how to apply lip liner, always start with a layer of hydrating lip balm. This beauty essential will help your lip liner—and later, your lipstick—glide on smoothly.
LIP LINER HACK #2: SKIP SUPER-SHARP PENCILS
Hands up! Back away from the pencil sharpener. Just kidding—sort of. You may be used to sharpening eyeliners to new heights to achieve the perfect sleek wing or thin line, but this practice doesn’t translate quite as well when it comes to lips. Using super-sharp lip liner may give your lipstick look an unnatural appearance. Allowing your lip liner to keep the dull point that forms through regular use can help it blend easily onto your lips for a seamless look.
LIP LINER HACK #3: KNOW YOUR ANGLE
Using lip liner is all about working at the right angle. When applying your lip liner, try holding your pencil at a 45-degree angle. This positioning can help to ensure that you don’t end up with any harsh or jagged lines. If you’re worried this angle won’t allow you to use enough pressure, don’t worry. It turns out you really only need minimal pressure to apply lip liner.
LIP LINER HACK #4: KEEP IT MOVING
The angle you hold your lip liner isn’t the only thing that’s important when it comes to lining your lips—so is the angle of your head! When lining your lips, make sure to examine your application by moving your chin up and down. Trust us—it’s all too easy for your lip liner to appear flawless from one angle and like a hot mess from another.
LIP LINER HACK #5: CREATE A BASE
If you only use lip liner to line your lips, you could very well be missing out on all that lip liner has to offer. One of the best tricks is to use a liner to completely color in your lips, not just line the edges. Filling in your lips with liner before applying lipstick can help with a few common lipstick problems: Your liner can help act as a base for lipstick to stick to, aid in stopping lip color from looking patchy, and guarantee your lips won’t look naked when your lipstick starts to wear away. Call it a win-win-win!
LIP LINER HACK #6: DRAW AN X
Your cupid’s bow doesn’t just have an extremely cutesy name; it’s also the key to defining your pout. Also known as a lip dip, the cupid’s bow is just above the center of your top lip. If your lips feature a pronounced dip, the edge of your upper lip looks like—you guessed it—a cupid’s bow.
To play up the shape of your lips, grab a liner from the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Matte Lip Liner collection and draw an “X” with your lip liner. Create intersecting lines that start from the peaks of your top lip and form an “X” shape before lining along the edges of your mouth as per usual.
LIP LINER HACK #7: GO INVISIBLE
Did you know lip liners sometimes come in completely clear shades? At first glance, a product with no color may seem unnecessary, but as superheroes and introverts know, invisibility is a beneficial skill. Line your lips with a clear pencil to form an invisible barrier around your lips, which helps to keep feathering and blurred edges at bay. Bonus: When your lipstick starts to wear off, there’s no way you’ll be left with a visible ring of liner around your mouth!
LIP LINER HACK #8: COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES
You’re taught all your life to color inside the lines, but you can toss that rule out the window. If you want your lips to appear bigger, simply line your lips slightly outside of their natural shape. With a liner that closely coordinates with your natural color, draw just past the perimeter of your lips. Your lips will look plumped but not totally drawn on (an important distinction).
Editor’s note: Prefer to make your lips look smaller? We know how to do that too! Here’s How to Make Your Lips Look Smaller.
LIP LINER HACK #9: SOFTEN YOUR LINER
If your lip liner application isn’t going as smoothly as you’d hoped, try warming the tip between your fingers. Using the warmth of your skin to soften the point only takes a few seconds but can be majorly helpful in making the pencil glide on evenly.
LIP LINER HACK #10: MIX MULTIPLE SHADES
Take your pout to the next level by incorporating two lip liners into your look. All you need is a light and dark color that work together so you can put your contour and highlight knowledge to use on your lips. Place the lighter color in the center of your lips, before filling in the rest of your lips with the darker shade. Blur the edges, so your shading looks seamless, and you’re good to go. The contrast and placement of the colors will make your pout seem fuller. For extra plumping power, add a touch of gloss to the middle of your lips. The shine can help reflect the light and add an illuminating highlight.
LIP LINER HACK #11: SWITCH UP APPLICATION ORDER
Lip liner doesn’t always have to go under your lipstick. In fact, there are perks to wearing your pencil on top of your lipstick. Start by applying your lipstick as per usual. Need some inspiration? Pair the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Matte Lipstick with the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Matte Lip Liner. Don’t worry about getting your lipstick just right—following with a lip liner allows you to clean up edges. You’ll know exactly where you need to touch up, making for crisper lines and better definition.
LIP LINER HACK #12: START SMALL
When lining your lips, make sure to use short, feathered strokes rather than trying to outline them in one take. This will prevent any harsh lines and help to minimize potential mistakes.
LIP LINER HACK #13: GO NUDE
Think that lip liner can only be used when you plan to wear a statement lip color? Think again! While liner can totally come in handy when rocking a popping shade, a nude lip liner is perfect for those days when you want a plumper-looking pout that also looks natural. Overline your lips using a nude shade of the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lip Liner, picking a lip pencil that matches the natural shade of your lips, to create the illusion of a fuller pout.
LIP LINER HACK #14: RELAX YOUR POUT
One of the best hacks for mastering how to apply lip liner is a simple one—just relax. See, holding your lips taut can work against your beauty look and create an unnatural shape. Simply keep your mouth slightly open and relaxed for a seamless application.
Next up: Congrats—you’re officially a lip liner pro! Continue your beauty lesson by learning How to Use a Matte Lip Liner.