Why Lip Liners Make Fantastic Lipsticks

Updated on February 28, 2016

An epiphany about....lip liners?

Women use lip liners to, well, line their lips. This is how they are marketed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. I, like many women, bought lip liners when I needed something to line my lips and gave it no further thought. Then one day a co-worker of mine was re-doing her lips after lunch. I watched her, and saw something that I'd never seen before: she was using a lip pencil to fill in her lips. The pencil was her lipstick. I know there are more important things in life to have an epiphany over, but I had one at that moment.

Since then I have read beauty articles that have suggested that you should line your lips with a lip liner or lip pencil that is the same color as your own lips, then use that liner to "fill in" your lips, so you have a base for a lipstick or a lip gloss to stick to. However, it was only as a step, not as the finished product, and especially not an actual lipstick color, say, red or coral. (Because really, no one has natural red- or coral-colored lips....not that I've met.) My co-worker was using a copper-orange lip pencil, making it clear that this was her chosen lip color and that she was not trying to match her lips.

I immediately began to experiment with the lip liners I had at home. I was overjoyed with the results, for multiple reasons.

Reason Number One: Lip liners make great matte lipsticks. Almost all lip liners give you a creamy, highly-pigmented, non-shiny look. There are a few that have some shine to them (think "bronze"), but that is usually recognizable by its color and/or name, and if you want that, go right ahead; it's still a great lipstick. I have found that lip liners that don't need sharpening are creamier than lip pencils, so experiment with that to find your preference. Lip pencils, accordingly, tend to be drier, and you may want to put a lip balm on first. Like matte lipsticks, lip liners stay put, making them a no-fuss lipstick option.

Reason Number Two: Lip liners can be found in many colors. If you look at just one brand's lip liners, you may find a limited selection of colors. However, if you search a lot of brands together, say, at a drugstore, you will find a wide array of colors at your disposal. One brand's "nude" lip liner may be too pinkish for you, while another brand's "nude" will be more beige. My personal favorite nude lip liner is Jordana's lip liner in Latte, found in drugstores. It is a beige nude with hardly any pink in it. There are cosmetic brands that have a wide selection of lip liner colors; MAC Cosmetics has a wonderful palette of distinct, colorful lip liners, my favorite being Auburn, which delivers a rich brownish red.

Reason Number Three: Many lip liners are inexpensive. For the most part, I can tell no difference between my drugstore lip liners and my department store lip liners. The only exceptions are the ones that come from the very inexpensive brands like Wet n Wild. These lip pencils, while usually costing about 99 cents a pencil, tend to be too hard and not deposit color on your lips easily. Other than that, you can get wonderful lip liners in the drugstore that cost anywhere from around $4.00 to $7.00. My favorite lip liner of all time is one by Rimmel called Cafe au Lait, which is under $4.00 at my local drugstore. It is a brownish red that gives me a rich, creamy, matte lipstick that stays on all day. I can't buy enough of them (even though I appear to be trying to given how many I have). If you are on a tight budget but want a department store-quality lip product, lip liners are well worth checking out.

Reason Number Four: You don't need an extra product to line your lips with. It seems silly to point this out, but this really is a bonus. Instead of having two lip products in your purse, you only have one. This is handy for small purse, and also if you just want to feel you have simplified your makeup routine. If you, like me, like the look of a line around your lips and are worried that you won't get that with just a lip liner, don't be; you can still create that look by going over the outline of your lips a few times more than normal, which will create that effect.

The only downside, if you can call it that, is that it takes a little more time to fill in your lips with a lip liner as opposed to that quick swipe you can do with a lipstick tube. I have found that this is a minor issue, especially as I got faster over practice. Whether you use a lip pencil or a self-sharpening lip liner may not be much of an issue when you are just lining your lips, but you may find you have a distinct preference when coloring your lips full. Have fun experimenting!

Since you most likely have at least one lip liner lying around (or not, that's ok, no judgement here), try making it your lipstick. You might have a little epiphany of your own.

From top to bottom:  Jordana Lip Liner in Latte, Rimmel Lip Liner in Cafe au Lait, and MAC Lip Liner in Auburn
From top to bottom: Jordana Lip Liner in Latte, Rimmel Lip Liner in Cafe au Lait, and MAC Lip Liner in Auburn

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Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        babette 15 months ago

        I've been doing this for years! I hate makeup in general, but lipstick in particular so I replaced mine with lip liners or lip pencils in natural colours and haven't looked back.

      • Rukhsarrr profile image

        Rukhsar 2 years ago from Leicester, UK

        I love wearing lipliners on their own. It leaves a beautiful 'retro matte' effect

      • JessicaHolm profile image

        Jessica Holm 4 years ago from Oregon

        I've been looking for an inexpensive matte lipstick forever! thank you :)

      • schoolgirlforreal profile image

        schoolgirlforreal 6 years ago

        That's good to know, thanks! :) ps. keep on hubbing!

      • Kayana profile image

        Kayana 6 years ago from Campbell, CA

        @schoolgirlforreal, thank you for your question! I do put lipgloss over lipliner sometimes, which will give you the same effect as a highly-pigmented lipgloss, and will stay put longer, in my experience. :)

      • schoolgirlforreal profile image

        schoolgirlforreal 6 years ago

        I used to use lip liner when I was younger but I've never since been a big makeup person..

        I'm wondering if you ever put lipgloss over your lipliner?

      • Sally's Trove profile image

        Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

        First I must tell you that I don't wear anything but lip gloss, and then, only sometimes. So, I have nothing to add, topically speaking. However, once I hit the last sentence in your first paragraph, I was hooked! And then amazed at how much can be said about using lip liners. Hey, I'm happy for any epiphany, and I had fun reading about yours. :)

      • Dianemae profile image

        Dianemae 6 years ago

        I also have a problem when my lipstick wears out before the lip liner, and it looks funny with just a thin line. There are many pros and cons and I quess it comes down to how you personally feel.

        Your article is good..started off a little slow, but I certainly will read you again.