Drugstore Lip Liners That Replace Liquid Lipsticks

I have recently become a convert to the category of makeup called lip liners. Before, as a liquid lipstick fanatic, I often found them unnecessary. To me, if a liquid lipstick does what it’s supposed to, which is dry down fully opaque and matte with no transfer, then a lip liner for definition and longevity is really not a necessary endeavour. For a long time, I figured my Kat Von D liquid lipsticks were enough (and they were).

But after my Kat Von D liquid lipstick in Lolita died its death this past summer (it remains the only liquid lipstick to date that I have actually finished), I got bored and decided to branch out to lip liners and see if I could use them with my matte lipsticks. It worked — lip liner gave me a super sized pout without the dryness of a liquid lipstick and the transferring of a lipstick. It was pretty much meant to be.

To date, I think the most lauded lip liner formula is the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheats, as various bloggers have called it their holy grail lip liner, and Lisa Eldridge even referenced it as a must-have. The Lip cheats are good – they are opaque, creamy but not overly so – but they are also $27 a pop. Iconic Nude didn’t last through a meal for me. MAC Pro Longwear is another option which I find more long lasting than the Lip Cheats but also similarly creamy and not overly drying (unlike another mac lip liner formula). This is my favourite high end formula but I still could not help but cringe at the fact that it’s $24 a pop.

Branching out to the drugstore, I decided to try out the Essence ones with the silver cap, and now also Satin Mauve (a dupe-ish for Whirl by Mac). Needless to say, this pretty much put me down a rabbit hole. Here are some of my favourite formulas:

  1. NYX Cosmetics and their lip pencils (the ones you have to sharpen) have me raving. I’ve whittled down NYX lip pencils in Nutmeg and Nude Truffle as I find myself using them over and over again. While they aren’t the most meal-resistant, they’re pretty transfer proof and are so easy to touch up that it barely matters. Also like $8.99.
  2. Milani Colour Statement lip liners — Milani colour statement lip liner in #3 is a pretty good dupe for Charlotte Tilbury Iconic Nude, plus it’s too creepy. Perfect if you want to do an ombre lip, with a darker outlined lip and a lighter centre.
  3. Essence lip liners — Satin Mauve is such a great pinky, slightly nude but also maybe a bit of berry, kind of a colour. Also works with everyday. Also Essence lip liners in the silver cap are great, but I don’t know if they are available anymore. Essence is notorious for discontinuing its products like it’s nobody’s business.

All of these lip liners — from Essence, NYX, Milani — all hit the sweet spot I’m looking for, which is that they’re creamy and able to glide across the lips with little tugging, but they also stay in place for a while and are transfer resistant. This makes them the polar opposite of the MAC lip liner range (the regular lip liners), as the MAC ones are often drying and exacerbate fine lines to the point of being just so unflattering. All of this, while also being in the range of $2.99 to $8.99, makes all of these brands a steal.

So all hail the lip liner, but more importantly, all hail the drugstore lip liners that make it easier for us to save instead of splurge while perfecting our pout.