I Have Hundreds of Lip Liners, Here Are My Top Picks Starting at $1— MAC, NYX, and More

After using hundreds of lip liners, I finally narrowed down my list of favorites, which includes Kylie Cosmetics, Charlotte Tilbury, and CTZN Cosmetics.

By Marenah Dobin Jan 23, 2024 6:36 PMTags
Shop Lip Liner GuideE! Illustration/ Photo Courtesy of Getty Images/ Gaelle Beller Studio

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If you adore your go-to lipstick, but you just wish it could be a little better, the problem may not be your lipstick. It's most likely a lack of lip liner (or an unreliable lip liner). Lip liner is the key to making sure my lipstick stays in place through eating, drinking, talking, and kissing. Lip liner prevents lipstick from feathering and smearing outside of my lips. Lip liner is a great way to get a more defined, plumped up pout without any injections or aftercare. I even wear lip liner on its own sometimes when the pigment is just that good.

I originally planned to use this article as a public plea begging Kim Kardashian to bring back her iconic lip liners. Thankfully, SKKN by Kim is launching lip liners on January 26, 2024 (stay tuned because I'm hoping to review the new products). Nevertheless, I have been a lip liner devotee since 2012 and I've tried so many products that delivered zero pigment, broke apart every time I sharpened the tip, and just got on my nerves. Throughout my many years of makeup application, I have come up with my definitive list of go-to lip liners so you don't have to make the same shopping mistakes I did in the past. 

TL;DR: Lip Liner Guide

Best Lip Liner Overall: MAC Lip Liner

MAC Lip Liner

It just doesn't get more iconic than the MAC Lip Liner. The formula feels so creamy on my lips that I sometimes just wear it on its own as a lip color. It glides on smoothly—I never have to press or drag to deliver color. If I need to get ready quickly, this lip liner delivers a flawless application any time I'm in a rush.

My Go-To Shades: Ruby Woo (matte blue red), Cherry (vivid blue red) Whirl (dirty rose), Boldly Bare (reddish nude), Soar (cool mauve), Spice (pink cinnamon). Yes, I know that's a lot of go-to shades, but they are just that good. I promise.

These are available at MAC, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, and Ulta. MAC has 28 shades to choose from.

Best Budget-Friendly Finish Lip Liner: Wet n Wild Lip Liner Color Icon Pencil

Wet n Wild Lip Color Icon Liner Pencil

Some believe "you get what you pay for," but that's not always true. This is a budget-friendly lip liner that truly comes through with its rich, creamy formula that does not feather.

My Go-To Shade: Brandy Wine. This liner has 3,300+ 5-star Amazon reviews.

Best Matte Lip Liner: NYX Professional Makeup Slim Lip Pencil

NYX Professional Makeup Slim Lip Pencil

Nope, that's not a typo. This lip liner really is just $5. You will want one in every shade. There are 31, by the way. The formula is buttery-soft, long-lasting, and it stays put even when I'm eating or sweating. 

My Go-To Shades: 810 Natural and 840 Rose. This lip liner has 28,800+ 5-star Amazon reviews.

UOMA Beauty Badass MF Lip Liner

Here's another matte lip liner that I adore. It's just as smooth as a cream formula, so it always feels comfortable on my lips while it delivers a matte finish.

My Go-To Shade: Adu (red)

Smashbox Be Legendary Line & Prime Pencil

The name of this liner says it all. The formula will make you feel like the legend that you are meant to be. It feels so comfortable on the lips and it doesn't smudge or feather.

My Go-To Shade: True Red

Best Multi-Pack Lip Liner Set: Italia Deluxe Ultra Fine Lip Liner Set of 12

Italia Deluxe Ultra Fine Lip Liner Set of 12

I love the bold hues in this set. There are lots of gorgeous reds, pinks, and browns in this bundle. They apply smoothly and they have a lasting creamy formula.

My Go-To Shade: Hot Pink, which delivers a some Barbiecore-inspired beauty. Shoppers love this set so much and it has 11,100+ 5-star Amazon reviews.

Best Long-Wearing Lip Liner: Kylie Cosmetics Lip Liner

Kylie Cosmetics Lip Liner

I have been obsessed with Kylie Cosmetics lip liners ever since I tried the original lip kits when the brand launched. That's why I was so happy when Kylie Cosmetics started selling individual lip liners. These really last so long, up to 24 hours, in my personal experience! With that said, I recommend investing in a high-quality makeup remover. The formula is so creamy on my lips without ever smudging.

My Go-To Shades: Iced Latte (warm brown), Coconut (rose brown nude). I have to give an honorable mention to the lip liners that are a part of my favorite lip kits: Mary Jo K (blue red) and Kristen (pink rosewood). Kylie, if you're reading this, please sell them as solo products. 

Best Hydrating Lip Liner: Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner

Here's a truly iconic lip liner with 605.7K+ Sephora Loves. It has been recommended by Kyle Richards, Sarah Hyland, Phoebe Dynevor, Rachel Zegler, and Jessica Clarke Higgins. I love this lip liner because it feels so soft and makes my lips feel incredibly hydrated! It's formulated with moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, beeswax, and jojoba seed oil. The shades are so stunning that I recommend filling your whole lip and rocking as a lipstick.

My Go-To Shades: Pillow Talk, Pillow Talk 2 Medium, Pillow Talk 3 Intense, and Walk of No Shame.


Best Retractable Lip Liner: CTZN Cosmetics Lipstroke Waterproof Lip Liner

CTZN Cosmetics Lipstroke Waterproof Lip Liner

I am in a long-lasting love affair with lip liner, but sometimes, it cramps my style to pull a sharpener out of my bag. However, most retractable lip liners break so quickly in my experience. I have returned so many retractable lip liners. However, I love this one because it doesn't break apart and the formula is so creamy and long-lasting. For anyone who loves to their makeup on the go, I highly recommend this one. I've used it in the back of a moving Uber and on moving trains with zero horror stories. I've also worn them as lipstick, filling in my entire lip.

My Go-To Shade: Seis (red)

Best Sculpting Lip Liner: Kylie Cosmetics Precision Pout Lip Liner

Kylie Cosmetics Precision Pout Lip Liner

When I want a fuller-looking pout, these are my go-to liners. The tip is super precise and the formula has a waxy feel which creates long-lasting grip that holds my makeup in place. It stays in put without smudging or feathering. Sculpt, define, and contour your lips with ease with these pencils that create perfect lines.

My Go-To Shades: I love the Kyle's Favorites Trio, which has the shades Saturn, Smitten, and Cappuccino.

Kim Kardashian’s Cult Favorite Lip Liners Are Finally Back, Plus Lipstick and Eyeshadows

Best Lip Liner/Lipstick Combo Pack: BestLand 12Pcs Matte Liquid Lipstick + Lip Liner Pens Set

BestLand 12Pcs Matte Liquid Lipstick + Lip Liner Pens Set

This is kind of an honorable mention because it's not solely lip liners, but I adore the BestLand liquid lipsticks and lip liners so much. They pair together so well without pilling or flaking and the pigment lasts forever. There's a lot of variety in here too with staple nudes, pinks, and reds. I also think this bundle is a great gift.

This set has 6,900+ 5-star Amazon reviews.

If you're looking for more makeup must-haves, you'll love these drugstore picks from supermodel Ashley Graham