How to Apply Lip Liner Like a Pro

How to Apply Lip Liner Like a Pro

Wearing a lip liner may not be as straightforward as you’d think – it involves discerning your lip shape, discovering the right shade match, and prepping your pucker for application. So, before making your pick, go through our step-by-step guide on applying a lip liner the right way. After which, choose your favorite one from our exhaustive edit of the best lip liners in the biz.

5 Steps Guide to apply lip liner perfectly

Prep Your Pucker

Just as indulging in skincare to lend a clear canvas for makeup application, prep your pout before applying lip liner and any matte liquid lipstick. Treat your lips to a pampering session with a lip scrub to remove dead skin cells, followed by an ultra-hydrating lip balm or oil for moisture. For maximum hydration, consider using an overnight lip mask. To extend the wear of your lipstick and liner, apply a primer afterwards.

Choose the Right Lip Liner Shade

Understand your undertones and identify a lip liner best suited to your skin tone. Ideally, pick a product one or two shades darker than your natural lip color to accentuate your pout and add dimension, but not too dark, as it may look jarring.

Line Your Lips

Study your lips to create a balanced, proportionate look. Begin by lining – or overlining – your lips at the top center and make your way towards the corners, following the natural contours of your lip. Repeat this process on your bottom lip to create the illusion of volume and dimension. Feel free to buff or blend the liner for a more effortless, natural look.

Boost Up Dimension

Consider pairing a darker lip liner with a bright liquid lipstick to amplify the gradient. You can apply lip liner both before and after lipstick to highlight your lip contours, enhance their natural shape, and add depth. For longer wear and more intensity, consider filling in your lips with the same lip liner.

Wear Lipstick or Lip Gloss

After your lips are well-defined with a lip liner, fill them in with a matte liquid lipstick or ordinary lipstick or any lip gloss of your choice. It goes without saying that your lip liner and lipstick should be from the same shade family. However, they needn’t be identical, as that won’t lend any contrast to your look. Top up your lipstick with another round of lining for more dimension. To achieve an unmistakable shine, complete your look with a layer of lip gloss. Scroll on – Shyr Beauty to Check the best matte liquid lipstick shades. 

Determining Your Lip Shape

Since everyone's lips are unique, it's essential to identify your lip shape to apply liner correctly. Different lip shapes require specific application techniques to create the illusion of fuller, more luscious lips.

Heart-Shaped Lips

For heart-shaped lips with a defined cupid’s bow, creating the illusion of fullness is easier. Use a dark-hued lip liner to outline the contour of your lips and highlight the cupid’s bow with a lighter lipstick or gloss. The contrast in colors will draw attention to your lips' shape, making them appear fuller.

Thin Lips

If you have thin lips, choose a lip liner just a shade darker than your skin tone to subtly overline your lips. Draw just outside your natural lip line, focusing on the cupid’s bow or the curve of your lower lip, then blend with your fingertips for a natural look. Avoid using a liner that is too dark, as it will make the overlining obvious and harsh.

Top-Heavy or Bottom-Heavy Lips

For uneven lip shapes – fuller upper lips with thinner lower lips or vice versa – use a lip liner to create balance. If your upper lip is fuller, select a liner close to your skin tone and overline the bottom lip. Conversely, if your lower lip is fuller, overline the upper lip and define the cupid’s bow for enhanced volume and proportion.

Wide Mouth

To add structure to a wide mouth and smile, apply a darker lip liner along the corners of your lips. Overlining in this manner will shift focus to your smile, adding definition and playing with proportions.


Should you apply a lip liner or lipstick first?

Ideally, a lip liner is applied before lipstick to help create a more defined look. It also helps increase the longevity of your lipstick and gives the illusion of fuller-looking lips. However, you can apply a lip liner after lipstick to accentuate your cupid’s bow and contours.

How to identify the right lip liner shade for your skin?

As a rule of thumb, your lip liner needn’t be an identical match to your lipstick but from the same color family. Pick a product one or two shades darker than your skin tone to line or overline your pucker for more depth and volume – it should mimic the natural shadows on the outline of your lips.

How to apply lip liner?

Begin lining the center of your top lip and make your way to the edges. Mirror this process on the bottom lip as well. Accentuate the shape of your cupid’s bow and connect it with the outer corners of your mouth for more dimension and fullness. Overline or overdraw your lips by applying lip liner slightly beyond your natural lip line for an enhanced appearance. For a more effortless, subtle look, buff or blend your lip liner. Alternatively, leave it sharp and unblended for a well-defined look.

Can you wear a lip liner alone?

Yes, you can fill in your lips or enhance their shape by outlining the contours with a shade closest to your natural lip shade. If you don’t have lipstick handy, top up your look with a bold lip liner or pencil that’ll glide on seamlessly.

Which lip liner shade gives the illusion of fuller lips?

Deeper shades, including mauves and browns, can help make your lips appear more luxurious by mimicking a natural shadow. Meanwhile, beige nudes and pinks will give your lips a more subtle, understated look.

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