We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.
Once you discover how game-changing lip liner is, there's really no going back. But as you add more lip liners into your routine, you should be expanding your lipstick collection to match. Even though most brands make corresponding lip liners for their lipstick shades, they're almost never given the same name, which can complicate things. One rule to remember when you're shopping for the best lip liner and lipstick combos is that you should always stick to the same color family. That means, if you're using a blue-red lipstick, you want your liner to be blue-red, too. For nude lipsticks, you have a little more leeway, as you can generally go a shade or two darker with your lip liner (that slightly darker outer line will also help to create more definition once you apply your lipstick).
As for the best way to apply your liner/lipstick combo, start with a light layer of lip balm and give it enough time to sink in while you get ready (or blot the excess balm off with a tissue). Then, using a sharpened liner, trace the outside of your lips, starting at the cupid's bow and maintaining a light hand when you get to the outer corners. You can use your liner to exaggerate your lip shape, or follow the natural contour of your lips perfectly, depending on your preference. But no matter how you line your lips, to give your lipstick maximum staying power, you'll want to lightly fill in your lips with the liner before you apply your lipstick. Clean up any mishaps with a Q-tip, and you're ready to go.
To help get you started, here are some of the best lipstick and lip liner combos of all time.
1. Best Creamy Red Combo
Lip liner is never more crucial to your lipstick's wearability than it is when you're wearing a creamy formula in a bright color. That's because the more moisturizing the formula (or the shinier the finish), the more likely your lipstick is to bleed outside the lines — or just plain wear off. Maybelline's Color Sensational Lipstick in Red Revival is a true-red color that complements every skin tone, while its shea butter-rich formula keeps your lips feeling moisturized and soft. Pair the lipstick with Maybelline's Color Sensational Lip Liner in Very Cherry, which is also a vibrant, true-red shade.
2. Best Matte Red Combo
Even though you don't technically need a lip liner when you're using a liquid matte lipstick (mattes tend to last longer, and liquid formulas come with a more precise applicator), outlining your lips first really does help with getting a crisp and even line. For a true red liquid matte, Stila's Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso is a makeup artist staple for its universally flattering shade and long-lasting formula that doesn't dry out lips, thanks to ingredients like vitamin E and avocado oil in the formula. To give the illusion of fuller lips, or to simply ensure your lipstick looks perfect, pair the color with L'Oréal's true red matte lip liner in In-Matte-Uated With You.
3. Best Beige-Pink Combo
Urban Decay did us a solid by making the names nearly identical here. This combination is great for a natural pink lip with a slightly more defined lip line, as the Naked2 lip liner is more of a beige-y color. The brand also makes the liner in Naked for an exact color match, but I've found that Naked2 works well with almost every nude lipstick in my collection (which is quite a lot). Naked2 is a classic pencil, but the formula is amazingly creamy and truly just glides onto your lips — no dragging or retracing necessary. The Vice lipstick in Naked is also a creamy formula (made with moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera and avocado oil), but if you want to switch things up with a matte, What's Your Sign and Backtalk are also great matches for the Naked2 pencil.
4. Best Burnt Rose Combo
Lady Gaga's makeup artist, Sarah Tanno, used this exact color combo on the singer and actress, so you know it's good. These products come from Gaga's own makeup line, Haus Laboratories, which has quickly become an Amazon beauty favorite. To enhance Gaga’s lip shape and fill in her lips, Tanno started with the RIP Lip Liner in Rule, a brownish, terracotta color. Then, she applied a nude-pink lipstick with the Le Monster Matte Lip Crayon in Influencer to make the look feel a bit softer. The full-coverage formula goes on creamy but dries down to a matte finish for long-lasting wear. Dust and Talk Dirty would also look amazing with Rule.
5. Best Deep Berry Combo
As with bright colors, the same rule applies that lip liner is a must when wearing a darker color. You'll also want to lightly exfoliate your lips as your first step (before applying lip balm), since flaky or dry lips tend to be more noticeable with deeper lipstick shades. For a rich, dark berry combo, try the NYX Suede Matte Lip Liner in Subversive Socialite, which is a pencil that’s designed to be used with matte finish lipsticks. For your lipstick, Anastasia Beverly Hills is one of my personal favorites when it comes to liquid matte formulas (it stays in place all day, and it won't dry out your lips). And the color Trust Issues is the perfect autumnal shade with its gorgeous purple undertones.
You May Also Like
When in doubt, go the universal route with a clear lip liner. Rimmel London's Moisture Renew Lip Liner is a transparent liner that can be paired with any lipstick color or finish. It's a retractable pencil, so you don't have to worry about a sharpener. And it's formulated with moisturizing ingredients like shea butter and castor seed oil, which allow it to double as a hydrating lip balm that keeps your lips smooth while still locking your lipstick in place for hours.