Makeup » How to Use a Lip Liner to Overline & Contour Lips

How to Use a Lip Liner to Overline & Contour Lips

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If you’re watching as much Drag Race as I’ve been, you’re probably also obsessing over lip liners, and how great they are for making the lips seem bigger, bolder, and poutier. It seems like everyone wants bigger lips these days, and since we’ve already written about how to achieve them with lip plumpers, I’d like to talk about how you can achieve them with the power of lip pencils through overlining and contouring.

We explain what the different benefits of lip liners are, and give you the low-down on how to fill in the lips, as well as how to overline and contour them for the most alluring pout possible. We finish off with some dos and don’ts to get you excited about using lip liners!

In this article:

Why Do You Need a Lip Liner?

A lip liner is not a mandatory makeup step, but it can make a big difference and certainly has a ton of benefits. If you find that lipstick alone doesn’t seem to work for you, one of the best lip liners might be exactly what you need to solve the issue. This is how lip liners can help:

  • With their thin tips and high pigmentation, lip liners are ideal for defining the lip line with a precision that cannot be achieved with your average lipstick. They give a more defined edge, which looks much more elegant and purposeful than a haphazard swipe of lipstick.
  • Lip liners also prevent lipstick from feathering or smudging. You might be familiar with the way lipstick can settle into the fine lines around your mouth after it’s been worn for a few hours. Well, since lip liners are made with wax, they are able to act as a barrier and prevent that smudging from taking place.
  • Lip liners can work in two ways to increase the longevity of your lipstick. Just using them on the perimeter of the lip is enough, since lipstick doesn’t tend to fade evenly and will normally disappear from the center and very ends first. The second way is by using it all over the lips like a primer, which will truly help prevent the fading from all over the lip.
  • You can use lip liners, especially with a slightly darker color than your lipstick, to contour your lips. By contouring the edges you can make your lips look larger, poutier, and juicier. I’ll go into detail later on in this article about exactly how to achieve this effect.
  • Another way to achieve bigger-looking lips is by using lip liners to overline your lips. Since they don’t smudge as easily as lipstick, lip pencils are perfect for applying to the skin that is just outside the perimeter of the lip, to create the effect that the lips are larger.
Why Should You Use a Lip Liner/ Lip Pencil?

How to Apply Lip Liner Precisely

  • Get your lips smooth and ready for makeup by exfoliating them. You can use any lip scrub, or you can make your own with a bit of honey and brown sugar. Rub it into your lips for a few seconds, and remove with a damp cloth.
  • To keep your lips looking soft and feeling moisturized, apply a thin layer of lip balm to your lips. Give it a few minutes to become absorbed, and wipe off the excess if necessary.
  • You’re now ready to start lining! I like to start at the center of the Cupid’s bow, by drawing a little V or an X shape. I then work my way outwards, by drawing tiny little strokes. To keep things symmetrical, I draw a couple of strokes going outwards on one side, then move on to the other, constantly comparing the two sides to ensure symmetry.
  • Once I’ve reached the outer corner of my mouth, I move down to my lower lip. Once again, I begin at the center of the lip, and I work my way outwards in small, connected strokes until I reach the outer corner of the bottom lip on each side.
  • After I’ve finished lining my lips, I like to apply lip liner all over the lips, so it can act as a base below the lipstick and keep it in place all day long or to even replace the lipstick all together.
  • You can now swipe on your lipstick, concentrating on the center of the lip and using a lip brush to smudge it out towards the lip line and to blend it with the lip liner.
  • To ensure your lip liner is as perfect as possible, make sure to correct any mistakes. You can do this with the help of concealer and a tiny concealer brush. Use the concealer like an eraser to clean up lines and remove any smudges or imperfections.
How to Apply Lip Liner Precisely

How to Overline Your Lips Without Overdoing?

I love overlining my lips. I got into it in Armenia, where women have naturally gorgeous and pouty lips, and what can I say? I got jealous! After a bit of trial and error I think I’ve mastered the way to get the lips overlined without looking like a clown.

I must stress that you must first get used to lining your lips by following your natural lip line before you can start trying to overline. Gain an understanding for what your lips look like naturally, and only then start overlining.

Once you’re a pro at lining your lips, start figuring out exactly how you will overline them. The key is to understand what your vermillion border is. The vermillion border is the pale line of skin that surrounds the lip line, and emphasizes the demarcation between the lips and the rest of face.

The vermillion border tends to protrude a little bit, and it is the perfect line for overlining. Applying lip liner along the vermillion border will look much more natural than if one were to go past it.

Another trick to overlining the lips without overdoing it is to play around with different shapes. Usually, only overdrawing one part of your lip will have an effect of rounding out and emphasizing your whole pout without looking overdone.

In most cases only overdrawing the Cupid’s bow is the best way to go, because it will have an effect on the whole lip and still look natural. You can even mimic Ariana Grande’s lip by slightly straightening out that “V” of the Cupid’s bow.

Tips for Overlining Lips with Lip Liners/ Lip Pencils

Other people prefer to achieve a more retro-looking pout by overdrawing the line going from the end of the Cupid’s bow to the outer corner of the upper lip.

Also take note whether you need to correct anything in your lip line – the bottom lip might be thinner than the top one or vice versa, or you might find that one side of your lip is slightly differently shaped than the other.

How to Use Lip Pencils for a Perfect Lip Contour?

Contouring and highlighting the lips is the easiest way to make them appear fuller without using any fillers. All you need is a lip liner in a darker shade, and another lip liner or a lipstick in a lighter shade with a matching undertone.

  • Following my directions from earlier by prepping the lips and using short strokes, apply the darker lip liner all over the perimeter of your lips.
  • Then use the lip liner to fill in the outer corner of your top and bottom lips, going all the way in to about half way before reaching the Cupid’s bow.
  • You may also use it to draw one line down the center of the bottom lip, which some people swear by, although personally I find it a little odd.
  • Next, fill in the center of your lips with the lighter shade of lip liner or a lighter lipstick.
  • Using a lip brush, blend your lighter and darker shades together to avoid having an obvious separation.
  • For a natural look, you can leave things here. For extra highlight, apply a bright lip gloss, an even lighter shade of lipstick, or some white concealer only to the very center of the lips, and blend it lightly.

Lip Liner Dos & Don’ts

  • Do experiment with different lip liner and lipstick combinations. For example, a wine-toned lip pencil will make your red lip appear richer, and it will make your magenta or purple lipsticks appear a bit more neutral and sophisticated. Try to stick to similar undertones, but beyond that you can really get creative.
  • Don’t try and get your lips lined all in one stroke. Using small strokes will give you a lot more control over the line of your lips, and it will actually give a smoother, more natural-looking lip line.
  • Do try a clear lip liner if all you’re looking for is to increase the longevity and prevent the feathering of your lipstick. This is an especially great choice, if you’re a little nervous about drawing a clean lip line, or if you prefer more natural lip colors.
  • Don’t overshoot your skills. Overlining your lips can look amazing, but not if you haven’t mastered how to line your natural lip line. Wait until you’re completely confident wielding a lip liner before you try overlining your lips. Instead, make them look bigger by contouring them.
  • Do set your lip liner and lipstick with some powder for maximum longevity. You can apply the loose powder straight on your lips, or you can apply it through a single ply of tissue for a more natural, diffused effect. This will set your lips and keep them look perfect all day long.
  • Do use a bit of highlighter to emphasize all the work you’ve put into perfecting your Cupid’s bow. Apply it right above your lip liner for an added pouty effect.

Photos via @greta_ag, Instagram