Let’s be honest, lip liner doesn’t have the best reputation in makeup land. That’s probably due to the scary memories many of us have from the 90s when it was huge, but also overdone and not even close to subtle. I literally shudder thinking about all those dark liner/light lips looks running rampant.But the 90s are back in a big way in both beauty and fashion and that means it’s time to revisit your relationship with lip liner. Celebrity makeup artist Tina Turnbow says, “I think women had fun with makeup in the 90s and that’s a good, fun mood to be in!” While makeup artist and founder of Surratt Beauty Troy Surratt adds that the 90s were “the beginning of what we know today as a ‘beauty culture’ with makeup artists like Kevyn [Aucoin], Francois [Nars] and Laura [Mercier].”So how can we bring back lip liner in a modern way? “Some makeup artists have maligned the lip pencil, but I have always found it a very useful tool for lending lips balance and symmetry, pushing or cheating (in moderation) the lip shape,” says Troy.
Lip Liner Shopping Tip
Choose your formula wisely. Troy says that “waxy pencils were created to be used as a base to prevent feathering and prolong wear back when lipstick formulas were not as technologically sophisticated as they are today. You want a pencil that is a softer, creamier texture.”
Troy’s Pro Tip:“For a more modern approach, I mostly use it after applying lipstick—I rarely line the lips first. I apply lipstick or gloss and then use the lip liner to create definition—mostly on the upper lip, emphasizing the Cupid’s bow.”For a more natural approach, Troy says to choose a color that matches your own vermilion border (where your lip meets the skin around your mouth) as closely as possible.Tina’s Pro Tip:Tina says she loves lining and filling in the lips with NARS pencils and the Clinique Chubby sticks. “There is a desire for a strong lip now. Sometimes I use a lip balm first and then liner around the mouth to fill in. Then tap around the edges to soften that line so you don’t see it.”Products to Try:
Surratt Moderniste Lip Pencil, $30The brainchild of Troy himself, this liner has no drag and a built-in lip brush, too.
NARS Velvet Lip Liner, $24NARS is totally 90s and totally modern at the same time. These pencils go on so smoothly, they’re practically foolproof.
We especially love that some of these shades work as both the liner and the full color you’ll want to use. No lipstick necessary!