The beauty panel: Guide to the best lip liners
Thanks to years of misuse and abuse, lip liner gets a bad rap, but it's time we prized the pencil
There is one thing you need to know about lip liner and it is that it won't turn you into Angelina Jolie. Lip liner, when used with common sense, is not a product for pumping up your pout. There are other products for that - but have you ever seen anyone whose trout-pout you admired?
Anyway, back to lip liner. Thanks to the legion who draw it a long way outside their natural lip line, most of us have forgotten that there's any benefit to using it. Further, those who use a dark-brown liner with a pale lipstick have a lot to answer for. But you must put all thoughts of them aside today, and focus on the lip liner positives.
If you're older and you've noticed that your lipstick is starting to feather out into the little lines that radiate from your mouth, then lip liner is a good friend. It holds the lip colour in place and will also create definition, because, with age, our lips fade and thin. Not fair, we agree.
Lip liner is terrific with red lips, as they need a bit of structure. You don't need to do a super-sharp Cupid's bow, but a light outline will strengthen a scarlet. With a lip liner in a dramatic colour, you can get away with it solo or under clear gloss.
Bobbi Brown Art Stick in Harlow Red, €26.50, Brown Thomas; Arnotts, House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
This is a hybrid product that can be used as both a lip liner and/or a lip colour. The chubby format means you can use the point to line the lips, and/or lie the flat edge against your mouth to fill it in with colour. It's soft enough that using it on its own won't dry out your lips. A sharpener to fit the thick nib is provided. "This is such an easy way to wear a striking red," said one panellist. "And I also used it as a filler under a red gloss. It helped it to last, and punched up the colour."
Best Pink Punch
Clinique Quickliner for Lips Intense in Intense Cranberry, €17.50, Clinique counters nationwide
This is a deep pink, but it's very bright, which gives it quite a bit of versatility. As in, you could get away with using it with an almost-red, but it will sit happily alongside all kinds of pinks, too. Promising to be water-resistant and transfer-resistant, it's also quite velvety and not chalky. Its selling point for a lot of people, though, will be the fact that this twist-up pencil doesn't require sharpening. It's great for reviving a lip colour or achieving pout definition on the go. "A great colour that goes with most of my lipsticks," said a panellist. "It will become a cosmetic constant."
Best Gloss Stick
Mac Patentpolish Lip Pencil in Innocent, €22, Brown Thomas and BT2
Another hybrid product, like our Best Overall choice. This can be a substitute for conventional lip colour, or you can use it to line or overlay your lipstick. As an overlay, it's quite like a shimmery gloss, without the stickiness or texture. As a liner, it gives slight definition, and some might find that sufficient if they love a nude or no-make-up look. "This has all the charm of a gloss, without any of the downside," said one panellist. "A great finessing product when you need a bit of extra polish."
Best Basic Brilliance
Mac Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in In Control, €20, Brown Thomas and BT2
There is nothing very fancy about this pencil, but what do you want? It's transfer-resistant and does a really good job of holding lip colour in place and making it last a lot longer. Also, while it's not too hard and dragging to apply, it's not so soft that it drifts. "There's a good selection of colours available in this product, and this particular shade gives that 'your lips but better' effect that you read so much about," a panellist said.
Best Nicely Nude
Clarins Lipliner Pencil in Nude Beige, €17.50, Clarins counters nationwide
The nude trend rolls on towards Christmas and, for most people, a lip liner is key to making nude mouths magic. With a liner, you can create some distinction between your mouth and the rest of your face. Otherwise, you can look like a wan and even unwell creature. Clarins has a whole selection of nude-ish pencils, so it's worth checking which one does the most for your skintone. "This is a nice pencil, and it gives nice definition; it really brought my pale-pink lipstick to life," one panellist said.