Should Lip Liner Match Lipstick?

Lip liner can provide a smooth edge to your lipstick and help keep your lipstick from bleeding. However, lip liners come in a huge range of colors, so you might be wondering if your lip liner should match your lipstick. Well, we've done the work to bring you the answer and some style suggestions.

Lip liner does not have to match your lipstick exactly. In fact, the general rule is to use a lip liner that is slightly lighter than your lipstick but still within the same color family. There are also certain styles that involve using a different shade or color of lip liner than your lipstick in order to create an ombre effect. 

Now you know that lip liner doesn't have to perfectly match your lipstick, but keep reading as we explain this further. We'll also discuss some instances where the lip liner doesn't have to match your lipstick at all. Additionally, we'll answer some other questions you might have about lip liner including whether you can wear lip liner without lipstick.

female supermodel getting a makeup of lipliner by a makeup artist. Should Lip Liner Match Lipstick

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Coordinating Lip Liner And Lipstick

As mentioned, when coordinating lip liner and lipstick, the best approach is to use a lip liner that is ever so slightly different in color than your lipstick. However, it's important to ensure that the two are still in the same general color family. If they are too different in color, there will be too much contrast, and this can easily ruin the look.

Twelve lips contour cosmetic pencils with color stroke samples, beauty products

As you can see, the colors of the lip liner and lipstick are slightly different, which helps to define the lips. However, both colors are similar enough so as to not create a very noticeable amount of contrast.

How Do You Pick A Lip Liner Color?


Everyday Wear

As we mentioned, for an everyday lipstick look, your lip liner should be lighter than your lipstick. It's a good rule to choose one to two shades lighter than the color of lipstick you have. However, you should definitely choose a lip liner color from the same color family as your lipstick.

By this, we mean that if your lipstick is pink, your liner should also be a shade of pink. Try to choose a paler pink, like this 'palest pink' lip liner made by Maybelline.

Click here to see this Maybelline New York lip liner on Amazon.


For a dramatic look, you might decide to create an ombre effect on your lips. In this case, you can choose to go dark to light from the outside in or dark to light from the inside out. If you choose to go from the outside in you will choose a darker lip liner with a lighter lipstick. Similarly, if you choose to go darker from the inside out, you will choose a lighter lip liner and darker lipstick.

For example, to create a dramatic red ombre lip, apply a black or brown lip liner to the edge of your lips, and then apply red lipstick.

Click here to see this NYX Mechanical Lip Pencil on Amazon.

Lip Liners That Can Match Multiple Lipstick Colors

If you're someone who wears the same lip color, you'll be able to choose one lip liner. However, if you like to change it up and experiment with new colors, you probably don't want to have to buy multiple lip liners for your lipsticks. Fortunately, you don't have to. There are some options of lip liner that will match multiple lipstick colors.

If you want a lip liner that will match more than one lipstick color, try to pick a nude or neutral color. A color close to your natural lip color will provide a good solid line that will help prevent bleeding from your lipstick but will work well under any color lipstick.  Clear lip liners are also good for this purpose.

Click here to see this NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Lip Pencil on Amazon.

Buy A Set Of Lip Liners

If you're still struggling to decide on the color of lip liner to buy, many companies sell sets of their most popular lip liner colors. Buying a set will give you options, and you're sure to find that at least one of them will work for you.

Click here to see 18 Colors Lip Liners Pencil Set on Amazon.

Do Clear Lip Liners Work?

Clear lip liners do work and are a good option if you're worried about trying to choose a lip liner color that will go with your lipstick. They are also great to have if you like to switch up lipstick shades and you don't want to have to purchase multiple lip liners.

Clear lip liner saves you money because it can be used with multiple shades, but it is also great to use as a primer to help set your lipstick color and make it last all day. You can use a clear lip liner to fill in lines around your lips and help prevent lipstick from feathering and bleeding.

Some people just prefer the look that clear lip liner offers as it reduces the chance of a two-tone look.

Click here to see this Maybelline Clear Lip Liner on Amazon.

Should You Use Red Lip Liner With Red Lipstick?

It can be very difficult to match a red lip liner with red lipstick, so if you plan to rock the bold red look, we suggest choosing either a clear lip liner or a lip liner that is close to the natural color of your lips. This will prevent you from having a two-toned look and will allow for a smooth transition between the lip liner and lipstick.

Another option is to purchase a lipstick and line set or combo, so you can be sure that your liner and lipstick will go well together. They may come as individual liners and lipstick or combined into one product like below.

Check out this 6-piece kit on Amazon.

If you intend for your lipstick to have an ombre effect, follow our advice from earlier on in the article and choose a brown or black lip liner.

Do You Need Lip Liner With Matte Lipstick?

Matte lipstick is likely to feather and bleed just as easily if not more so than other lipsticks. Lip liner will help prevent this, so you should definitely consider using a lip liner with a matte lipstick. It will help keep the color on your lips.

Matte lipstick can also dry your lips out which can result in the lipstick looking uneven and flakey. Lip liner along with lip balm or primer can help prevent this.

You might not need a lip liner if you use a liquid matte lipstick, but it can still help boost your overall look.

Check out NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Soft Matte Lip Cream on Amazon.

Can You Wear Lip Liner Without Lipstick?

In a pinch, you can wear lip liner as lipstick, or if you just really like the color of your lip liner you can apply it over your lips. It will likely give you a matte finish, and it can be a little drying. Because of this, you might want to consider applying lip balm or primer beforehand.

If you choose to wear lip liner as lipstick, you should make sure to exfoliate your lips beforehand. You should also do this before applying lipstick too, so just make sure to keep this as part of your routine. If you don't exfoliate your lips, you may end up with patchy uneven coloring.

You can also put lip balm over the top of the lip liner to give it a glossier finish.

We've told you that you can wear lip liner without lipstick, but can you wear lipstick without a liner? Read more on this topic here: Do You Really Need Lip Liner?

Final Thoughts

Your lip liner should be a similar shade to your lipstick unless you are trying to achieve an ombre effect. Remember to choose one or two shades lighter and a shade from the same color family. If you're having trouble deciding on a lip liner color, choose a nude, neutral, or clear lip liner for more versatility.

Hopefully, this guide has answered your questions about choosing a lip liner color and you feel less intimidated by the decision. You'll have stunning lips in no time!

For more reading about choosing a lip liner color, check out our other blog post: Should Lip Liner Be Darker Than Lipstick?

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