Whether you’re looking to create a full-looking pout, a blended rouge effect or bring definition to the lip line, choosing the best lip liner can be a game-changer.
Considered by some to be a non-essential addition to your makeup bag, this probably makes lip liner one of the most underrated and underused products. While many would turn instinctively to a lipstick or lipgloss for a daily nude look, the same effect can be created by a lip liner—either on its own or paired with another product—and will last longer.
READ NEXT: Best makeup brushes
Liners define the line of the lip, meaning that if you’re looking to make your lips look larger or fuller, a liner can help change the shape of your mouth. They also act as a guide for applying bolder lip shades such as reds, browns or plums, especially for those who have paler skin on which slip-ups would be more noticeable.
Many makeup artists use lip liners to colour in the corners of the mouth, helping to avoid gaps in colour in harder to reach places.
With a wide selection of lip liners available, all doing different jobs and creating a variety of effects, we’ve picked our favourite lip liners to help you make an informed decision when making your next — or potentially first — lip liner purchase.
£15 | Buy from MAC Cosmetics
Why we love it: This MAC lip liner pencil is one of the most-searched-for lip products and it’s not hard to see why. Designed for shaping, lining or filling the lip, this pencil has a smooth, creamy texture that gives the lips a matte effect.
For those who are pushed for time, this pencil applies quickly and precisely, meaning it’s also perfect for beginners who might not be experienced with lip liners. We’ve found when applying to our lips that it’s hard to go wrong and can be used to create a number of different lip effects.
The pencil also comes in a wide selection of colours, which not only work well with their aligning lipstick shades but with many different shades as well.
While we’d recommend to beginners, we appreciate the price tag is a little scary for any first-time users. For the ease-of-use and minimal effort to get any desired look, we think it’s worth it and that’s why it’s our Editor’s Pick.
£3.99 | Buy from Superdrug
Why we love it: While Rimmel’s Moisture Renew is not the cheapest lip liner out there, it’s still well within most people’s budgets making it a great bargain for those who don’t want to buy multiple lip liners to match their various lipstick shades.
Using a combination of ingredients such as beeswax and shea butter, the liner provides moisture whereas some liners would dry out the lip. It also defines the lip and protects colour, stopping lipstick smudging and bleeding in its tracks.
Because the liner is clear, rather than nude, it is perfect to use with any shade of lipstick and it’s easy to use. As this liner doesn’t create a matte finish, it would be better suited for use with gloss, stains and satin-finish lipsticks.
£22 | Buy from Feelunique
Why we love it: This semi-matte lip pencil is pricey but it perfectly traces the lip contour, while also being soft and delicate against the skin.
The liner uses ingredients such as derivatives of cotton seeds and jojoba seed oil, providing a glide on feel. It also includes Vitamin E derivatives which protect against free radicals that cause damage to skin cells.
For the extra money, you additionally get an integrated blending brush and a pencil sharpener so there’s no need to panic when applying on the move. As the effect is semi-matte, it can also be used on the entire lip and blended, improving makeup hold throughout the day.
The highest-priced of our selection of lip liners, the Chanel Le Crayon Leveres will not disappoint. However, if you’re prone to breaking the tip of the pencil when sharpening, this product could prove to be costly in the long-run.
£2.99 | Buy from Superdrug
Why we love it: The cheapest liner in our selection, the Barry M Lip Liner in shade Minx is a great option for anyone wanting to create a striking nude lip. Given that nude lips are most probably one of the most-worn looks, ensuring that a liner is both long-lasting and good value for money is a must.
Barry M pencils and liners have a fantastic consistency generally and this lip liner follows suit. It has a velvety smooth feel when applied to the lip and creates a creamy, matte texture. This makes it suitable to use alone or with a lipstick, depending on the desired look, and it is also easily blendable.
Coming in cheaper than the Rimmel lip liner – but less versatile which explains why this liner wasn’t awarded our Budget Buy – this liner is a great choice for those who prefer to keep their look polished yet simple.
Why we love it: This lip liner is bold and perfect for those who want to create a dramatic lip effect without being too daring with the shade.
This deep tawny-brown lip liner has a smooth texture for a seamless line, helping users to resize and reshape the look of their lips. So whether you’re looking for a thin smile or a full pout, this liner could be the one for you. It’s a relatively new addition to Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk range, unveiled earlier this year, and builds upon the wonderful texture and pigment from the original Pillow Talk Lip Cheat.
All liners in the collection last for up to six hours and are waterproof, meaning no feathering or transfer. According to the Charlotte Tilbury website, this shade is suitable for deep skin tones but can also be used by those with paler skin to create a dramatic look akin to those seen on the Catwalk this season.
£6 | Buy from NYX
Why we love it: For us, it was a no brainer that the best red lip liner had to be bold, long-lasting and easy to apply so our first choice had to be NYX’s Retractable Lip Liner in shade Ruby. NYX is a regular in our best makeup roundups and is one of our all-time favourite cheap makeup brands.
This pigmented liner creates the perfect pout with its creamy matte finish. However, the colours remain vibrant and not dull. It’s also easy to apply, going onto the lip smoothly without any drag. It lasts all day, which for any red lip is essential.
While we love the Ruby shade, this lip liner is also available in 19 different shades.
Sophia is an international journalist covering technology, healthcare, culture and lifestyle. Her words appear in outlets such as Newsweek, Forbes, Metro UK, New Scientist and more