When it comes to wedding makeup, it's important to make sure your lip color will stay put throughout the day. Whether you’re reciting your vows as a bride or giving a killer maid of honor speech, the last thing you'll want is a smudged lipstick fiasco.
If you’ve previously opted for lipsticks and glosses but skipped out on liner, you might want to reconsider. “Lip liner is a great way to shape and define the lip,” says Makeup Artist and Bridal Makeup Expert Jessica Lyness Kendall. “When the correct color is used, it can give the illusion of a full(er) lip, a well defined pout, and act as a complimentary border for lip color.” It can also help prevent liquid lipsticks and glosses from migrating outside of the lip. Whether you prefer a natural look or a full glam getup, having a well-defined lip will give you the confidence to enjoy the moment rather than worry if you have lipstick on your teeth.
With so many lip liners on the market at varying price points, it can be hard to know which formulas last for hours without caking, smearing, or drying out. With Kendall’s advice, we researched the best lip liners that offer a wide range of shades, hydrating ingredients, and easy to use formats. With all budgets included, you'll be able find the best lip liner for all your wedding day needs.
Best Long Wearing
NARS Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil
For stay-all-day lip liner that won’t budge or smudge, go for the non-drying NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil. With 29 shades of medium to full matte coverage, NARS’ unique blend of silicones and waxes ensure lasting color for a gorgeous pout. Plus, its jumbo size makes it a convenient 2-in-1 option for lining and filling. With so much going on during a wedding, we’ll take any added conveniences we can get.
Price at time of publish: $27
Shades: 29 | Format: Crayon | Finish: Matte
Best High End
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Iconic Nude
Waterproof (read: tequila-proof!), velvety, and ultra-hydrating, there’s a reason one of these bad boys is sold every 10 seconds around the world. The celebrity-favorite brand delivers on six plus hours of gorgeous wear in 17 shades, with high quality ingredients like hyaluronic acid and jojoba seed oil for hydration, beeswax for smooth texture, and ceresin to prevent transfer and feathering.
Price at time of publish: $25
Shades: 17 | Format: Pencil | Finish: Matte
Maybelline Color Sensational Shaping Lip Liner
For a convenient, high quality drugstore lip liner that won’t break the bank, go for Maybelline Color Sensational Shaping Lip Liner. With 21 shades to choose from and thousands of positive reviews, this shaping liner will beautifully contour and define your lips—all for under ten bucks.
Price at time of publish: $9
Shades: 21 | Format: Mechanical | Finish: Matte
Best Color Range
MAC Lip Pencil
MAC Lip Pencils are “bridal staples that have been a go-to for bridal stylists for years,” says Kendall. They offer tons of shade options, from nudes and pinks to deeper tones. A few color options she recommends most for brides and guests: Whirl, Strip Down, Soar, Spice, and Mahogany.
Price at time of publish: $22
Shades: 21 | Format: Pencil | Finish: Matte
Colourpop BFF Lippie Pencil
“ColourPop is a great clean option that won’t break the bank,” says Kendall. This vegan, cruelty-free, budget-friendly, and long-wearing lip liner won’t feather, and it comes in a whopping 40 shades.
Price at time of publish: $7
Shades: 40 | Format: Pencil | Finish: Matte
Dior Contour Lip Liner
For a matte finish that creates beautifully sculpted lips, Dior Contour is your best bet. With 24 shades made from peony extract, pomegranate flower extract, and shea butter, your defined lips will last up to 8 hours of wear. “Dior is also great for blending,” says Kendall. “The lip liners come with the dual ended lip brush to help smooth the application between the lip color and lip liner.”
Price at time of publish: $34
Shades: 24 | Format: Pencil | Finish: Matte
Best Certified Organic
Kjaer Weis Lip Pencil
Looking for a organic option for your new bridal lip combo? Look no further than Kjaer Weis Lip Pencil in Mauve, Rose, Faded, and Bare. These certified organic shades are super creamy and velvety and have incredible staying power. Note: not all shades are 100% organic, so be sure to double check.
Price at time of publish: $26
Shades: 10 | Format: Pencil | Finish: Velvet-Matte
Best for Blending
Makeup by Mario Ultra Suede Sculpting Lip Pencil
The dual-ended brush on the Makeup by Mario pencil creates an effortlessly blended and blurred pout that won’t smear or budge. It’s a full-coverage, highly pigmented, matte formula that’s infused with emollients and lip-lock technology for all day wear. It comes in 19 different shades, so there are a lot of options to choose from.
Price at time of publish: $24
Shades: 19 | Format: Pencil | Finish: Matte
Best Vegan & Cruelty-Free
The Lip Bar Straight Line Lip Liner
This highly pigmented formula is infused with jojoba oil, aloe vera, coconut oil, and Vitamin E for ultra hydration. Each of the 11 shade options feature smudge-proof and water-resistant formulas made with only vegan and cruelty-free ingredients.
Price at time of publish: $10
Shades: 11 | Format: Pencil | Finish: Satin
Best for Natural Overlining
Chantecaille Lip Definer
Kendall says she keeps these lip liners on hand at all times for their consistency and shade options. “These lip pencils are like butter and I'm a sucker for a pencil that sharpens well,” she says. Must-have shades for natural overlining are Nuance (fair skin tones), Tone (medium skin tones) and Chic (dark to deep skin tones).”
Price at time of publish: $28
Shades: 10 | Format: Pencil | Finish: Semi-Matte
NYX Professional Makeup Retractable Lip Liner
Not only is NYX lip liner retractable for convenience, the vegan and cruelty-free product is super budget-friendly. According to Kendall, it also offers a wide shade range with lots of brights, neutrals, and deeps.
Price at time of publish: $5
Shades: 13 | Format: Mechanical | Finish: Satin
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil
With 25 gorgeous shade options, this cruelty-free and waterproof formula has moisturizing vitamin E, jojoba oil, and cottonseed oil to nourish the lips. Pro tip: for ultra long wear that’ll fill fine lines and prevent feathering, start by lining the outside of lips with Ozone (their clear shade) and then go in with your color option of liner and Vice Lip Bond liquid lipstick. The result is a glued on color that looks creamy and kissable.
Price at time of publish: $25
Shades: 25 | Format: Pencil | Finish: Matte
What to Look for in Lip Liners
When it comes to the perfect wedding day glam, it’s all about staying power. You need makeup that’s not only long lasting, but won’t smudge or smear through the many smooches, dance breaks, and tear-filled speeches of the day. When shopping for lip liners and pencils, look for terms like longwearing, smudge-proof, and waterproof.
It’s also wise to look for hydrating formulas, as they can prevent lips from drying out and caking and crumbling throughout the day. Ingredients like oils, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E are great for hydration. With vitamin E and jojoba oil, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Lip Pencil is our pick for the best waterproof lip liner.
Depending on the lip color you choose, be sure to find a lip liner that is slightly darker than your lipstick or gloss. This will help create dimension and a natural border effect. It can also create an ombre effect, which can help the lips appear more voluminous. If you want to create a fuller lip by overlining, you’ll want to look for matte finishes to create a contoured effect that doesn’t reflect light. Lastly, be sure to match the color undertone to your lipstick or gloss. For example, if you’re opting for a red lip, you don’t want to have a warm toned lip liner with a cool toned lipstick. To find the best match for your lipstick, look for a lip liner with a wide shade range, like MAC Lip Pencil.
In addition to the color and formula, the format of the lip liner is equally important, according to Kendall. Lip liners tend to come in either pencil, retractable, or crayon form.
Kendall says pencils are her top choice for control as the fine tip will provide definition and shape. However you have to resharpen them, so if you don’t want to deal with that on your wedding, you can stick to mechanical pencils, like NYX Retractable Long-Lasting Mechanical Lip Liner. Simply twist up and you have more lip liner.
For extra convenience, you can go with a crayon, like the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil. The round tip makes it easy to use both as a lip liner and color in one.
What does lip liner do?
Lip liner shapes, defines, and contours the lips in order to achieve a more defined or symmetrical pout. Overlining with lip liner can also help to make lips look fuller or larger.
Should lip liner be lighter or darker than the lip shade?
“Lip liner should be slightly darker than the lip color,” says Kendall. “This will create depth along the border of the lip. Once the lip color is applied, it will create the illusion of a bright/full pout.”
How do you apply lip liner?
Using a sharp pencil, start with the cupid's bow and work outward. You’ll trace the outline of your lips, or you can overline if you’d like to make your lips look fuller. As you get to the corner of the lip, “apply less pressure for a more natural look,” suggests Kendall.
Meet the Expert
Jessica Lyness Kendall is a Charlotte-based Bridal Makeup Expert, Local & Destination Wedding Artist, and Owner of Beauty Asylum Hair & Makeup. Her teams span several cities across the U.S.
Why Trust Brides
Chelsea Frank has been a lifestyle writer for nearly 10 years. She’s contributed to dozens of online publications, researching and writing on a number of topics from clean beauty and fashion to travel and wellness. She’s also an anxious soon-to-be bride, so she’s with you!