Whether you want to make your lipstick last all day or over line your lips à la Kylie Jenner, lip liners are no longer something to be left in the 90s. A good liner can transform even the thinnest lipstick, locking it into place while preventing any bleeding or smudging.
A few years ago, lip liner was mostly associated with the dreaded ‘ring’ – that outline left around your lips once your lipstick has had its day – but when applied all over your lips, you’re left with a matte base to see you from breakfast to dinner. We’ve narrowed down the best products and shades on offer right now to help perfect your pout for the new year.
Marc Jacobs Poutliner Longwear Lip Liner Pencil: £16.20, Harvey Nichols
Infused with collagen, this lip liner aims to plump your pout (hence the name) as well as create the perfect canvas for your lip colour. Not only did our tester find that her lips looked fuller after use, but the inclusion of collagen allowed liquid lipstick to apply smoother than usual. We found that this lip liner was the best at preventing colour from bleeding and felt the least drying on our lips. It comes in eight shades – including a versatile ‘invisible’ colour to adapt to any lipstick – but our favourite was Honeybun, a warm brown.
MAC Lip Pencil: £14, Selfridges
Kylie Jenner caused a global shortage of this staple product from MAC after declaring Soar and Spice to be her favourite shades. It turns out she was onto something: Spice in particular is the ultimate browny nude base for both liquid and regular lipstick, reminding us of 90s beauty in the best possible way. For those hoping to make their lips look plumper, this lip liner looks the most natural and flattering when over lined around the sides of your mouth and cupid’s bow.
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat: £16, Charlotte Tilbury
This lip liner is a longtime favourite of makeup artists and beauty aficionados alike, and for good reason. Its formula applies like velvet, smoothing out your base to help you reshape or resize your lips to your heart’s content. While it promises to last for six hours, our tester found that it helped keep her lipstick in place for almost twice that amount of time. Pillow Talk might be the most popular shade but we loved the classic, Hollywood-worthy red shade Kiss N’ Tell.
Lipstick Queen Invisible Lip Liner: £18, Space NK
We were sceptical of this product at first, wondering just how effective an invisible lip liner could be when used alongside a variety of shades. However, we were soon won over: Lipstick Queen have created a universal lip liner that works with every colour. Not only is it self-sharpening but it has the added bonus of saving you money a whole range of shades. Our only issue is that it runs out quite quickly.
Stila Stay All Day Lip Liner: £14.50, Stila
As the partner product of their Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick, this lip liner is just as richly pigmented. It might not have as big a shade range as its lipstick counterpart, but the eight on offer are all long lasting and waterproof while our pick, Pinot Noir, is the perfect choice for the festive season. Unlike a lot of lip liners, what makes Stila’s offering stand out is how moisturising it feels on your lips thanks to the use of Vitamins C and E.
it Cosmetics Your Lips But Better Lip Stain: £12.75, it Cosmetics
A lip liner and lip stain in one, this is the most ambitious entry on this list. It hydrates, conditions and primes lips whilst also leaving them coloured enough to forgo the lipstick. The inclusion of a self-sharpening lid makes it more precise to apply than a lipstick. Our tester loved It Girl, a highly pigmented red which kept her lips bright even after her lipstick had faded away.
Kat Von D Everlasting Lip Liner: From £12.32, Debenhams
Any list of lip products would be incomplete without an entry from Kat Von D’s eponymous makeup collection. Providing a wider range of shades than any other product on this list, the 30 colours on offer range from traditional nudes to bright blue. Our tester is a longtime fan of the Everlasting Liquid Lipstick and found the lip liner to be a worthy addition to her makeup routine. Opting for Lolita II, it glides on smoothly and adds an extra layer of coverage to lipstick, extending Everlasting Liquid Lipstick’s already lengthy lifespan.
Cosmetics À La Carte Longlasting Gel Lip Liner: £26, Cosmetics À La Carte
As the priciest entry on this list, we had high expectations from this lip liner. We definitely found it to be the most waterproof choice, surviving several rounds of drinks. It also required very little retouching throughout the day. Our tester did find her choice of shade – Cinnamon Sugar – a bit drying as the day wore on, but this was easily solved with lip balm.
Lime Crime Velvetines Lip Liner: £14.50, Cult Beauty
When it comes to packaging, this lip liner is a winner – all of Lime Crime’s products are bright, floral and pink. Thankfully the product itself is just as impressive. It has the same matte finish as the brand’s famous Velvetines Liquid Lipsticks, with nearly as many shades (Cult Beauty currently offers 22 colours). Our favourite was Pumpkin: a brick red formula which is creamy and easy to apply.
Giorgio Armani Silk Lip Pencil: £23, Selfridges
This lip pencil applies like a dream, defining and accentuating lips without any precise effort. Its shade offering is natural and understated, but very pigmented – several shades look bold enough to skip out on the lipstick. Our tester applied this lip pencil all over the lips, smoothing them out as a base for lip gloss. We especially loved the rich, chocolatey brown Shade 2.
The Verdict: Lip liners
For value and quality, our pick is Marc Jacobs’ Poutliner Longwear Lip Liner Pencil, which left our lips both looking and feeling plumper. However, for those who like to switch up their lipstick shades on a regular basis, we recommend either the versatile Lipstick Queen Invisible Lip Liner or one of Kat Von D’s many Everlasting Lip Liners.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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