Which drugstore lip liners are best?
Lip liner is the unsung hero of lip makeup that makes it through an entire evening without bleeding or fading. Using lip liner can add polish to your look, prevent feathering and make your lipstick look crisp and put together. If you’re looking for a great drugstore lip liner that gives lips long-lasting color, Revlon ColorStay Lip Liner is the top choice.
What to know before you buy a drugstore lip liner
Lip liner is a foundational product that is often overlooked but can add polish to your look. Although they both add color to the lips, lip liners and lipsticks have fundamentally different jobs and formulations. Both lip liners and lipsticks contain oils, waxes and pigments. However, lip liners are more solid and pigmented. They’re too thick to apply on the full lip, but help keep lipstick in place and prevent it from feathering. But not all lip liners are created equal.
Many users are scared off from applying lip liner because they’ve seen someone whose lip liner inadvertently doesn’t match their lipstick. (Not to be confused with the deliberate application of a lip liner and a lipstick of two different colors as a style choice). Finding a lip liner that matches your lipstick used to be more difficult, but most cosmetic companies now produce lip liners that match their lipsticks. Shop for both together if you’re concerned about matching them.
While the role of all lip liners is to help lipstick stay on longer, some are specifically formulated for extended wear. Decide if keeping lipstick on all day is your goal, and choose accordingly. Extended wear lip liner isn’t for every situation. For example, if you want to change your lipstick color later in the day, having a deep stain from your earlier application may not be desired.
Because lip liners are formulated with more wax and pigments to define your lip line more effectively, they can sometimes be tough to apply. One tip is to warm the product up before application (just a bit!). But you can avoid choppy lip liner application, which can lead to a less-than-smooth line, by choosing a lip liner that has a good blend of thickness and blendability.
What to look for in a quality drugstore lip liner
The lip liner you choose should be dictated by the type of lip look you’re going for. If you want a muted day look, you may want to opt for a skin-toned lip. For a dramatic evening look, go for a bright, bold, glossy look. A quality lip liner will accentuate the look without overpowering it and will add staying power to your lipstick application without feeling heavy.
Ease of blend
Because a lip liner gets layered on with lipstick, it’s important that the two blend together seamlessly into one complete lip look.
Just like you have many moods and outfits, you need many lip colors to match them. Finding a lip liner brand with a wide selection helps you find the lip liner for every need and occasion. Plus, a wide color selection ensures you’ll find the right liner for your preferred lipstick hues.
Matte or Glossy
Different lipstick applications call for different levels of shine. On average, you’ll want to opt for a matte lip liner and let the lipstick bring the gloss. Gloss is achieved by adding additional oils and emollients. Lip liner is at its most effective when it’s formulated with more wax. Glossy lip liners can sometimes be less reliable.
How much you can expect to spend on a drugstore lip liner
A drugstore brand lip liner will run in the $10-20 range, with a few good bargain options at under $10.
Drugstore lip liner FAQ
Should lip liner be lighter or darker than lipstick?
A. Your best bet is to go for a lip liner that matches your lipstick (here’s where cosmetic companies with matching combos come in handy). If you don’t have an exact match, go for a slightly lighter lip liner and apply your lipstick over it so that they blend.
I can’t find a lip liner that’s a perfect match for the lipstick I want to wear. What now?
A. An alternative to matching your lip liner to your lipstick is to match it to the natural hue of your lips. That way, no matter what lipstick you choose, the liner will blend with your lips.
What’s the best drugstore lip liner to buy?
Top drugstore lip liner
What you need to know: This leader in the cosmetics field for almost ninety years is a go-to for millions of customers for a reason: they know makeup. This long-lasting, deeply pigmented lip liner will get your lip look through the day and into an evening out on the town.
What you’ll love: Deeply saturated color and staying power make this the go-to when you need your lip color to last. It also comes with a built-in sharpener and has 14 shades to pick from.
What you should consider: Removal takes work, and your lips can look “stained” even into the next day, particularly with darker colors.
Top drugstore lip liner for the money
What you need to know: NYX is the affordable, quality option in drugstore makeup and their lip liner offers great quality for an affordable price.
What you’ll love: NYX lip liner offers great blendability and a good color selection.
What you should consider: Matching NYX lip liners to other brands of lipstick can sometimes be a challenge
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Another well-known brand in drugstore cosmetics, L’Oreal produces a rich, creamy, color-saturated lip liner.
What you’ll love: L’Oreal lip liners feel luxurious and smooth like a department store brand without having a department-store price. They also pair well with the corresponding Colour Riche Matte lipsticks.
What you should consider: Unfortunately, their color selection is not broad, and you may have a challenge perfectly matching the liners to non-L’Oreal brand lipsticks.
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Maria Andreu writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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