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6 lip liner tricks for a fuller, more striking pout

Lip liner, in all its different forms, has continued to permeate runways, red carpets, and Instagram feeds alike. While some are using it to enhance their natural pouts to your-lips-but-better effect or to create a more vivid, bulletproof canvas for a classic red lip, others are taking cues from backstage with editorial-inspired drama, from boldly visible and overdrawn to ombré with a fresh, soft-focus effect. No matter what tack you take, there are a few tried-and-true lip liner tips and techniques that you should be armed with each time you reach for your choice pencil. Here, pro makeup artists break down the basics.

Choose a Flattering Shade

If you’re color matching your lip liner to your natural lips, pay close attention to what undertones are most most flattering to your complexion. “All nude liners are not created equal,” says pro Tasha Reiko Brown, whose roster includes Alicia Keys and Tracee Ellis Ross. “Finding a realistic nude liner requires assessing your skin tone and figuring out what’s individually best for you. Often the best nudes will have a bit of peach or rust in them. Rarely is a true brown tone a great nude.” When creating a nude lip, makeup artist Yuki Hayashi usually opts for a shade that’s either the same or a slightly darker shade darker to create a “very natural and contoured lip line,” he says.

Create Balance and Symmetry

When you first trace on lip liner, begin by correcting the balance and symmetry of your lips. “Always follow the natural shape and even the top and bottom shape first, then blend out the edges to give the effect of fuller lips,” says Hayashi. As you refine what you’ve traced, be mindful of the Cupid’s bow—you don’t want to go overboard in accentuating it. “Make sure it’s not too pointy or sharp,” he says. A trick that’s helpful to Brown when tracing it on with shorter lines. “I don’t try to get it in one long line draw—smaller sections mean precision! ” she explains. “Once the lip is fully lined, I’ll feather the liner inward, so if it wears down later, there’s no lip liner ring-around-the-mouth effect.”

Add Definition and Volume

One of makeup artist Vincent Oquendo’s favorite tricks is thinly lining the lips with a taupe-hued pencil to sculpt and shape. “Think of it like a cheek contour, but for your lips,” he says. If you want to draw on a more voluminous new lip shape, he recommends pairing your lip liner with a long-wearing liquid lipstick. “Then, you don’t have to worry about any of your products bleeding and giving away that you reshaped your lips,” he explains.

Intensify Your Lipstick

“Lip liner adds the sharp line on a lip border that application just from a lipstick bullet may not achieve,” explains Brown about why using a lip liner in tandem with a bullet of lipstick is so beneficial. “A border brought into focus with a pigmented lip liner can make the lips appear more full.” When Hayashi applies a bold lipstick, he likes to use lip liner after as well to help refine and soften the shape. “A sharp, harsh lip line can make bright lipstick look dated,” he says.

Try a Fresh Ombré

“I love the editorial moment we are having with the gradient lip and the 3D effect it creates,” says Brown. Her go-to technique for a blurred finish is leaving the center of the lips completely bare of lip liner or lipstick, then taking a deeper liner and darken the lip edges and feathering slightly in. “A nice dollop of lip balm on a brush blended inwards brings together the look with no hard lines,” she says.

Touch It Up

No matter what kind of lip look Oquendo is creating, he always keeps touch-up tools at the ready. “I use a micellar water with a cotton bud to sharpen the line around the lips,” he explains. “This is also important because micellar water is nonoily and won’t cause my lip products to bleed.” For Hayashi, concealer can also be a handy perfecter: “I apply it to the edges of lips before using lip liner and after applying lip liner; use your finger or a small brush to soften the edges.”

This article was originally published on Vogue US.

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