Lip liner is one of the most underrated makeup products on the market. In the '90s, it was applied liberally, and usually in a much darker color than your lipstick, which is perhaps why it developed a bit of a bad rap. But whether it's because of Kylie Jenner or a new beauty-obsessed era that's more open to experimentation, lip liner is making a major comeback. The best part is, lip liner doesn't have to be a big investment. The best drugstore lip liners will still lock your lipstick in place for under $10 — or even replace your lipstick altogether.
To properly apply your lip liner, make sure you're starting off with smooth, moisturized lips. Bonus points if you've chosen to exfoliate your lips with a scrub first, before applying a balm or hydrating cream. Don't try to line your lips with one consistent line at once; instead, use short strokes, and line just outside the natural contour of your lips if you're after a fuller-looking pout. You can continue to completely fill in your lips with your liner, which will make your lipstick last doubly as long, or, you can stop at the outside line and proceed to fill in with lipstick. You can also use lip liner instead of lipstick, for a more minimal effect.
As far as choosing a color goes — if you typically do a nude lip, go with a shade darker than the color of your natural lips. If you plan on wearing your lip liner with brighter colored lipsticks, pick up a few that match your go-to shades. There are also clear liners, which work well at keeping your lipstick from bleeding outside of the line.
Below, you'll the most popular drugstore lip liners on Amazon, according to fellow beauty obsessives.
1. Best Retractable Lip Liner: Easy Application & Formulated With Omega 3 & Vitamin E For Soft Lips
L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lip Liner
For anyone who can't be bothered with a pencil sharpener, go with an automatic option, like L’Oréal's Colour Riche Lip Liner. This 12-color range is formulated with omega 3 and vitamin E to help keep lips soft and smooth, which is great when it comes to preventing feathering.
"This is just so smooth, and it lasts all day," writes one Amazon reviewer. Others note that the nude shades are a "good lip color for women of color," and the Always Red shade "is a true red" that doesn't have any blue or orange undertones.
2. Best Pencil Lip Liner: A Popular Pencil At An Affordable Price
Milani Color Statement Lip Liner
If you prefer a good old-fashioned pencil, the Milani Color Statement Lip Liner gets Amazon users' vote for its easy application, durability, and affordable price. Many users call the colors in the eight-shade range "perfect," with one reviewer adding that their 'nude' shade is the "perfect color, good quality, and a great price compared to the MAC lip liners I usually purchase."
Since this liner is very matte (especially if paired with a matte lipstick), make sure to apply a lip balm or cream a few minutes before application.
3. Best Slanted-Tip Lip Liner: Great For Creating Fuller-Looking Lips
Rimmel London Exaggerate Automatic Lip Liner
As its name suggests, the Rimmel London Exaggerate Automatic Lip Liner helps you create the appearance of fuller lips, thanks to its slanted tip that lets you slightly overline, evenly. The automatic lip liner leaves a matte finish, but many Amazon reviewers note it feels quite creamy.
"Even though I have expensive taste in lipstick brands, this is always my go-to lip liner," writes one loyal fan. "[Shade Addiction] works perfectly with all of my neutral/nude lipsticks, it can be worn alone with a lip gloss on top, [and] it is matte but doesn't make my lips crack or dry." Another shares, "[Shade Eastend Snob] is a good enough dupe of the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk."
4. Best Shade Selection: A Liner Available In 72 Colors
NYX Suede Matte Lip Liner
While your lip liner doesn't have to be the exact color of your lipstick, it can be hard to find the right shade when you're mix-and-matching brands. That's where NYX comes in. While the brand designed all 72 of their Suede Matte Lip Liner shades (though, unfortunately, not all of them are available on Amazon) to match their Suede Matte Lipsticks, there are enough options to work with any neutral or bold lip choice (yes, even blue). Though the finish is matte, Amazon users' note it still applies smoothly.
5. Best Clear Lip Liner: Great For Keeping Your Lipstick In Place Without Adding Color
Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lip Liner
Not everyone is into lining and filling their lips with a pencil before they even get to the lipstick part, and that's okay, too. A clear option, like this retractable Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lip Liner, still ensures your lipstick won't bleed, but with a whole lot less precision required. Because the liner is clear, you can trace the perimeter of your lips without worrying about messing up (and inevitably spending an eternity trying to even out each side of your lips). It's also great for gloss fans, according to several Amazon users, who share that the satiny pencil locks glosses and stains in place.
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