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The Best Lip Liner

Last updated on May 31, 2023

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Our Picks For The Top Lip Liners

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick


Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval


Longwear Pencil Lip Liner

Available in a wide range of colors, this slim lip pencil blends well without bleeding. The formula is buttery soft for easy application and comfortable wear. You can buy matching shades of lipstick, lip gloss and lip cream to complete the look.

Overall Take

Lasting LinesThis lip liner resists bleeding and stays in place throughout the day for a long-lasting option.

 Runner Up

Maybelline Color Sensational Shaping No-Smudge Lip Liner


Color Sensational Shaping No-Smudge Lip Liner

The creamy formula of this lip liner ensures it glides on smoothly for a comfortable feel. You’ll get smudge-resistant lines to help keep your lipstick on your lips. A wide range of colors are available, including subtle nudes and bold browns and plums.

Overall Take

Vibrant ColorsThis lip liner is designed to provide coloring that's bold and rich.

 Runner Up

Revlon Colorstay Bleed-Free Lip Liner


Colorstay Bleed-Free Lip Liner

Thanks to the built-in sharpener in this lip liner, the pencil is always ready to produce clean lines. The formula is designed to prevent feathering and bleeding for a flawless look. Each of the available shades are also bold in color, which is perfect if you enjoy making a statement.

Overall Take

Lots of Color OptionsYou'll find this lip liner comes in a variety of shades, including wine, mink, chocolate, blush and plum.

 Strong Contender

Italia Assorted Colors Ultra Fine Lip Liners, 12-Count


Assorted Colors Ultra Fine Lip Liners, 12-Count

With 12 different color options, this lip liner can help you create a look that fits your personal style. The creamy texture means you can use it with lipstick or alone by simply penciling in the entire surface of your lips. Purchase a separate sharpener to ensure you always have a fine tip.

Overall Take

Versatile OptionThis lip liner can be used with lipstick or alone to offer an alternative to traditional lipstick.

Buying Guide

For many people, putting on makeup is an important part of a well-established morning routine. But did you know that wearing makeup may even boost your brain’s performance? One study published by Harvard showed that women students who put on makeup before taking a test performed better than those who didn’t. The thinking behind why this works is that wearing makeup gives you a slight boost in self-esteem that can help you tackle those demanding situations.

But one type of makeup can be easy to skip. While lipstick completes a fully made-up look, if you eat and drink throughout the day, you’ll usually have to reapply it multiple times. Luckily, in recent years, cosmetics manufacturers have come up with lip-coloring options that can outlast sips of beverages and light snacking.

The type of lipstick is only the start, though. Lip liner has long been popular for defining the lip line for a bolder look. But over the years, it’s become clear that lip liner can also extend the life of that lipstick you apply in the early morning hours. With the right lip liner, you’ll seal in the lip color and ensure it stays in place for hours.

But it’s important to look at the texture of the lip liner you choose. Traditional lip pencils were dry and the tips could even crumble if too much pressure was applied. Today, cosmetics manufacturers have advanced their formulas to create a creamy texture that feels and looks good once applied.

Thanks to formula advancements, lip liner doesn’t have to just outline the mouth. You can find lip liner that’s creamy enough to serve as both liner and lip color. The biggest benefit of going this route is that you’ll get long-lasting color, even as you’re drinking and eating during the day. This all-in-one solution also helps free up space in your makeup bag or purse.

What to Look For

  • You don’t have to sharpen your lip-liner pencil with today’s options. You can find mechanical lip liners that you simply rotate upward. The only downside to this option is that you won’t be able to create as fine a line as you can with a sharpened lip pencil.
  • You’ll find lip liners available in a variety of colors. There are also differing options when it comes to shades, though. Some prefer the bold look that comes from choosing a darker shade than that of their lipstick. Others like to match the lip liner to the lipstick color. But another option is to more closely match your own lips to keep things looking great even after your lipstick wears off.
  • Many brands that make lip liner also sell lipstick, making it likely you’ll be able to find an exact match. But you don’t have to wear the same brand of each. You might find a lip liner you like in one brand and a lipstick that’s better in another.
  • Make sure any lip liner you choose resists smudging. The point of lip liner is to keep your lipstick from smudging, so a lip liner that smudges won’t be of much help.
  • Some lip liners are sold in sets. This will give you a backup for when your first pencil runs out, but you might also want to keep one at home and one in your purse for those quick touch-ups during the day.
  • For creamier mechanical lip-liner pencils, an angled tip can help you get the detail you need.
  • If you plan to wear lip liner without lipstick, look for one with a creamier texture to give your lips the moisture you need throughout the day.
  • For best results, store your lip liner in a cool, dry area. This is especially important for creamier formulas. Heat and light can dry a lip liner out and start to dull its color over time.

More to Explore

Although lip liner has been around for a century, no decade was bigger for this makeup staple than the 1990s. For years, women had worked hard to make sure their lip liner didn’t show, but women of that decade went in another direction. The goal was to create a bolder, darker line, combined with a lighter, more neutral lipstick to create a stark contrast.

Naomi Campbell was among the first celebrities to give the look attention. Renowned makeup artist Sam Fine created that look for her after observing it on other women of color. The look soon spread to other celebrities and, eventually, the general public. Pamela Anderson and the Spice Girls sported the look, as did Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera. As the ’90s rolled to an end, though, lip liner resumed its role of blending with lipstick, although some still like to rock an ombre look, with the darker lip liner blending into a lighter lip color.

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