For many people, lip liner can seem like an unnecessary extra step, but it’s an unsung hero in your makeup kit. A
lip liner that goes with every lipstick — even if that’s a tinted lip balm — is the equivalent of having a good strapless bra in your wardrobe. It provides shape and definition, and even though you may not use one every day, you’re usually grateful to have one on-hand for those occasions you do.
To find a versatile lip liner that can go with any of your lipsticks, you can first consider invisible lip liners, which are an underrated option that not only (literally) go with every lipstick but
keep color from feathering when used to outline. A neutral lip liner that goes with your skin tone (more on that later) will be able to enhance your natural lip and complement almost any shade you have as well. Lip primers are another option; they provide an even base for brighter lip color and help them stay locked in place with absolutely no lining necessary.
But, if you're looking for a
colored lip liner that will go with all of the lipsticks in your beauty arsenal, first you need to identify your skin's undertones to help you pick a lip product that complements your natural coloring. There are three basic undertones: Warm: This means your skin has golden, peach or yellow tones. If you follow the "vein test," people with warm undertones usually have greenish veins, and in terms of tans, you're more like to bronze than burn. If that's you, look for colors that are red or orange-based (think cherry red, terra-cotta,). Cool: Those with cooler undertones have skin that often skews pink or bluish. Following the vein test, you're likely to see blue veins, and when it comes to the sun, you're likely to burn. Look for lip colors that have blue-based hues (think plum, berry). Neutral: This skin type is a balance of warm and cool. Your vein color may be hard to decipher, but might be bluish green. Since neutral skin undertones have more versatility, you need to try out different warm and cool tones to see what works best for you.
Whether you want to spring for an invisible liner or a bold hue that works with your skin tone, you're sure to find an option below that you will fall in love with.
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A Clear Lip Liner That Really Goes With Everything
invisible lip liner creates a clear barrier around the lips to fill in areas where lipstick might travel, and this pick from Rimmel promises to protect your lip color for up to seven hours. This budget-friendly retractable pencil is dermatologically tested and contains shea butter to moisturize. One shopper was happy to report it "stops those bleeds in their tracks... this baby gets the job done." Another reviewer commented, "I hate that I need to carry multiple liners for different colors. But most colorless liners tend to be dry and chalky. This one is great, moisturizing and completely clear."
These Lip Liners That Are Made To Match Each Color Family
lipstick-matching liners from Haus Laboratories (from none other than Lady Gaga) were formulated to complement different color families. The hue En Pointe, for example, is labeled "a peach neutral" and the color Drag is "a mid-tone plum." This makes it easy to pick the pencil that will work best with your lipstick shades. The vegan formula is no slouch either: It's waterproof, but feels creamy like a lipstick (and they're actually designed to multitask as one). The demi-matte finish falls somewhere between matte and satin, so it will play nicely with a variety of lip products on top. It's not too matte to suck the life out of your lipstick, but not so glossy that your product will slide off, either. Want to stock up? There's also a six-piece lip liner set that feels like a luxurious bargain. Available colors: 9 colors and 3 kits
A Multitasking Lip Primer For Lasting Color
tinted lip primer prevents smudging and feathering without a traditional pencil’s harsh lines. Much like priming your skin before foundation, the moisturizing formula with vitamin E and jojoba esters, creates a smoother canvas for makeup that helps hold it in place. It has a subtle tint to neutralize your lips' natural tone so that products apply more true-to-color from the tube. "This LITERALLY makes my lipstick last all day, with maybe a retouch after eating something like a sub or burger," raved one reviewer who claimed this eclipsed her pricier MAC primer.
This Retractable Lip Liner In Three Universal Neutrals
neutral lip liners balance warm and cool undertones to offer a versatile “my lips but better” pencil. Their creamy texture, with a matte finish, is great to wear under a clear balm for a natural look and, since they're meant to match your lips, the color won't interact with whatever you layer on top. Multiple shoppers echoed that it was a great everyday neutral that "really does work with any lip color." The cruelty-free liner can even be worn as an all-over color. neutral Available colors: 3 colors & 2 kits
The Best Drugstore Lip Liner According To Reddit Makeup Enthusiasts
die-hard makeup Redditors came together to pool their favorites (and make this chart), this drugstore lip liner from NYX came out on top. The long-wearing formula is PETA certified cruelty-free and contains a moisture-rich trifecta of shea butter, jojoba oil, and coconut oil. This all comes at an impressively budget-friendly price point that one shopper noted was "just as good as the high end brands." Another shopper testified to its longevity, adding "I work 12-hour shifts, and it’s going stronger than I am at the end of my day." Other reviewers also noted that certain colors were affordable dupes for designer shades in different brands, including MAC and Charlotte Tilbury.
This Luxe Lip Liner With Soothing Botanicals
lip liner gets its color from mineral pigments and glides on like butter thanks to a moisturizing formula loaded with jojoba, meadowfoam, mango seed, vitamin E, and macadamia oils. As a result, it might not be the most long-lasting lip liner — one shopper noted it was soft enough to blend in as blush — but the nourishing formula gets high marks for such a smooth application and nontoxic ingredient list. "It is smooth, easy to apply, pigmented and wears beautifully throughout the day," one reviewer remarked, adding that the color Nude "is an extremely versatile color. You can use it with a wide variety of lip colors and it blends with almost anything." Moreover, this pencil shouldn't irritate sensitive skin.
A Great Budget-Friendly Lip Liner Set When You Need To Stock Up
lip liner set is a fan favorite and comes backed by more than 1,200 Amazon reviews. Shoppers rave that these creamy lip liners are extremely pigmented and go on smoothly enough to wear alone as lipstick. One makeup artist even revealed, "I bought two sets – one for my kit and one for personal use, because they're truly that good." The set includes bright and muted pinks, reds, nudes, and browns, and breaks down to a little over 50 cents per pencil.
Two For One: A Chunky Natural Lip Pencil That’s Both Liner And Lipstick
chunky lip crayon in a natural skin-friendly formula combines the application of a lipstick with the control of a pencil for an option that’s great to apply on-the-go or when space is at a premium, like travel. Its lightweight and creamy full-coverage formula is surprisingly moisturizing for a matte finish with shea butter, jojoba oil and kendi oil. "This doesn't settle into lines or create any flakiness, it's buttery and comfortable," one shopper confirmed. Another noted: "It's also really good under gloss and doesn't slide/smudge." (And there's no sharpening required!)
Also Nice: This Pencil Sharpener That Works With Three Different Sizes
In a perfect world, every lip liner would magically be self-sharpening. Since that's not the case, you need this
makeup pencil sharpener to save you from a world of last-minute frustrations. It works with three different sizes — most other sharpeners max out at two — but this model has a removable adapter that can handle even notoriously oversized NARS pencils. It also has a removable cover for mess-free emptying, for a tool that's simple yet seriously effective.