Thanks to the likes of Kylie Jenner, lip liner is gaining firm footing in the beauty world again. But the trend’s checkered history (we're looking at you, '90s) can make lip liner an intimidating beauty tool. “Many women think that lip liner is the one makeup step that is unnecessary, too time consuming, and harsh,” says MAC’s Director of Makeup Artistry, Romero Jennings. “Lip liner is actually a necessary tool that helps you achieve a long-lasting, symmetrical, perfected lip.” We’ll take a perfect lip any day of the week—so we got Romero’s best liner tips.
Master the Basics
The key to successful lip liner application lies in a few key steps. First, always start with a sharpened pencil, which will create a precise line, says Jennings. Then trace the bottom lip before the top, smiling as you trace to stretch the lip. “Overdraw the smaller [top] lip so that it looks closer to the other for a more cohesive look,” he suggests. Finally, start blending. “Sometimes the liner can be too light, too dark, or a contrasting color that needs to be diffused,” says Jennings, who cites a lack of blending as the biggest lip liner mistake he sees. Use a lip brush to lightly spread the color from the outer lip line over the rest of the lip.
Fill It Up
If there’s one lip liner look that women are after these days, it’s the plumped up pout—but without the right technique, it can come off more clownish than cute. To make yours work for everyday wear, Jennings suggests starting by blending a concealer one shade lighter than your normal shade around the mouth to frame the lip. Then, apply the lip liner on the lip line, following your natural shape. “Next, draw another ring around that,” says Jennings. “I would say to stop there, but you can add another ring if you feel good about it!” Finally, fill in the entire lip with the same pencil. Romero also suggests finishing with a gloss, like MAC Cosmetics Dazzleglass ($20; maccosmetics.com), “for a more 3D look.”
Make It Last
Lip liner is good for more than just creating the illusion of bigger lips. Layering lipstick over lips shaded in liner can make your lip color last longer, says Jennings. Choosing liner shades that can blend well with most common lipstick colors is key. “Everyone needs a red, a nude, and this season’s hot color: coral,” he says. Some of Jenning's favorites are the MAC Lip Pencil ($16; maccosmetics.com) in Spice and Cork and MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil ($20; maccosmetics.com) in Kiss Me Quick and More To Love. He also suggests scheduling a consultation with a professional to help find your perfect shade.