I Learned to Love My Thin Lips Thanks to These Best Lip Liners
My lips have been my biggest insecurity since I was 17 years old. During some of my most impressionable years, the trend was to have a fuller pout, and I was simply not born with this seemingly desirable aesthetic. As Kylie Jenner confessed she'd had lip filler, later revealing this was sparked by a teenage boy telling her she wouldn't be a good kisser because of her thin lips, I started thinking: what can I do to alter mine?
And I wasn't alone. The toilets in my all-girl's secondary school became crammed with teenagers experimenting with the dangerous Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge. We looked up to the makeup mogul but were left panicking, suffering bruised lips inflicted by shot-glass rims.
Thin-lipped women across the world rushed to Google to find out everything they could about faking a fuller pout, thinking this was the answer to appearing more attractive. Some chose cosmetic procedures, with clinics in the US and UK reporting a 70 percent rise of enquiries for lip filler within 24 hours of Jenner's announcement. Others, myself included, used lip liner as a cheaper alternative with less side effects.
I've had years of dramatically overlining my lips in a bid to 'fit in'. My makeup often looked unrealistic, clown-like, or messy, or it faded within an hour. While I firmly believe everyone deserves to feel as accepted in their own skin as possible — and that includes those who opt for 'tweakments' to boost their confidence — I have felt a little lost with how to make me feel secure with the way my mouth looks. Until now.
As the body-positivity movement on social media continues to spread the message that we are all beautiful in our own way, I began to be a little kinder to myself. Coupled with the pandemic, which saw all of us forced to stare at our faces a lot more (thanks, Zoom calls), it felt like the tide was turning in my mind.
Rather than using lip liner as a means of achieving the unachievable, I started seeing it as a tool for helping me embrace the lips I was blessed with. It's been a balancing act to get right, but I came across a viral TikTok by @baileymbc, and now I'm now a lip-liner superfan.
Rather than using lip liner as a means of achieving the unachievable, I started seeing it as a tool for helping me embrace the lips I was blessed with.
The video, which has more than 358,500 likes, reveals a game-changing secret regarding the vermilion border: the line just above the coloured portion of your lip, either side of your Cupid's bow, that connects the lip tissue to the rest of your face. According to the makeup artist, women with thin lips, who tend to lack a pronounced vermilion border, often benefit from steering clear of ultracreamy liners. "I personally don't have a vermilion border, so I like lip liners that other people say aren't creamy enough or are too stiff or thick," she tells her followers. "It's because I need to create an edge where there isn't to keep my lipstick in one spot. If I use something too creamy, it just slides around because my lips don't really have a defined edge."
This is where I'd been going wrong. "In general, when overlining lips, I prefer a pencil with a waxier base as opposed to a creamier pencil. If you have any fine lines or wrinkles, a waxier pencil will prevent feathering and bleeding," celebrity makeup artist Monika Blunder tells POPSUGAR.
And nailing the technique for lining thinner lips is easier that you might think. "You can overline just at the Cupid's bow of your lip, which will give you a more pouty lip shape," Blunder suggests. "Or you can overline just at the edges or sides of your lips, which makes your lips appear larger overall. I don't generally like to overline the entire lip. I feel that it looks a bit obvious if you're overlining everywhere, so I prefer to just overline in the area of the lip I'm trying to emphasise."
If you typically struggle to keep your liner and lippy in place, layering is your friend. "Layer, layer, layer! Working in layers to build up coverage is a great way to give most products staying power," Blunder says. "For lip liner in general, I'll make sure to remove foundation from the lips first to create an even canvas, then build up a couple layers of liner, layer lipstick over that, and then most of the time I'll finish with one more layer of lip liner. That works wonderfully."
It is so important to remember that body shapes and facial features go in and out of fashion all the time. The beauty standard is always changing, and we can't change our faces to keep up with it. Jenner has since supposedly had some of her lip fillers dissolved, as has Molly-Mae Hague, who revealed she stopped recognising her reflection.
Nyla Raja, a cosmetic doctor and dermatologist, tells POPSUGAR, "Ideally, I want to encourage everyone to accept their natural features and make the most of what they have, whether this be through makeup, skin care, or cosmeceutical treatments, if that is what they want. The key is to always focus on what will suit the individual's overall features."
After trying these tips, I can confidently say that I'm happy with my natural lips. I know that a touch of liner and lippy can make me feel like a million dollars, and I can wipe it away and still feel that I look like 'me'. I no longer feel tempted by filler because this method of using the perfect lip liner combined with focusing on part of the lip, rather than the whole thing, really works. Gone are the days of rushing to the toilet during a date to paint on bigger lips, or clumsily filling in the gaps of my liner using my phone camera as a mirror on the commute. With these tools in your arsenal and the perfect liner, you really can't mess up.
So, which products work best? I've tested a huge range and worked out the best lip liners for overlining thin lips.