(Beauty Report Card)

I Found My Signature Beauty Look Thanks To These Lip Liner & Gloss Combos

Thank me later.


I’ve always had a love hate relationship with my lips that leaned a bit more toward the hate side. At first, I despised the natural brow outline of my pout (that I would eventually grow to love), then a bit later in my adolescence I became envious of women with big doll-like lips, despising my own for not being voluptuous enough. Big lips are a common genetic staple among Black people, so naturally, I felt cheated.

While going through the growing pains of nailing down my signature beauty look, I experimented with quite a few lip products. I admired the bold and bright trademarks of stars like Lupita Nyong’o and Tracee Ellis Ross, but gravitated toward the neutral soft glam aesthetic perfected by beauty gurus like Jackie Aina and Rihanna. The pronounced lip liner and almost-wet gloss look is definitive of trendy Black girl makeup so I knew that picking the best lip liner and gloss combo would be the anchor of my go-to beauty look.

I tried countless lip liners, everything from $1 beauty supply store staples to high-end lip markers that promised long-lasting pigment. As for lip glosses, I couldn’t seem to find ones that stayed on my lips for my daytime adventures and nighttime outings, all while being the right shade — not too pink or ashy, not too dark, and not too sheer.

One fateful day, while getting ready to see the Christmas lights in Manhattan, I uncharacteristically reached for a new shade of pink from Flesh Beauty gloss. I’m usually a NYX butter gloss girl (a Black girl staple), but layering that sheer rusty pink over my regular NYX Praline and between my Morphe lip liner resulted in a pout so perfect I knew I had found my combo.

Since then I’ve been on a mission to find as many variations for this winning lip liner and gloss combination and I’ve come up with eight pairings that never fail me. From staples like NYX Butter Gloss to recent launches from Make Up For Ever and iconic must-haves from Fenty Beauty, here are the beauty editor-approved lip liner and gloss combos you need in your makeup arsenal.

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Gloss & Liner Combo

The OG lip liner and gloss combo that started it all for me is from none other than cult-favorite brand NYX. The Butter Glosses have become famous for their buttery smooth application, lasting pigment, and knockout price point. If you’re new to the nude, lined lips look, these products are basically a starter kit.

For this look, I start by lining my lips with the NYX lip pencil in the shade coco (or whichever brown or nude shade is slightly darker than the natural outline of your lips). I then apply the Butter Gloss in Ginger Snap on the line I just drew while leaving the center of my lips uncovered, and finally filling in the center of my lips with Flesh Beauty Hot Sauce in the shade Steamed Blurry. Gently smack your lips to blend it all together and there you have it.

Lipstick & Liner Combo

Nude shades are what helped me overcome my fear of using lipstick (I’m still more of a gloss gal anyway), but this silky formula from Make Up For Ever goes on smooth without that dry feeling that some lipsticks can leave — not to mention this muted pink hue is the perfect not-quite-nude for those with dark lips. This shade paired with the NARS Precision Lip Liner, and topped off with Dior Addict lip gloss gives off rich and luxurious vibes — on your lips.

Two-In-One Gloss & Liner Combo

Fenty Beauty is unmatched in many beauty categories, but the brand quite literally changed the game with the introduction of their Gloss Bomb cream lip colors. This warm and cozy brown, copper-ish shade is so beautiful on medium to dark skin tones — subtle enough for an everyday look and vibrant enough enough for a pop of glam. The best thing about this lip color is that you don’t need a top coat of clear gloss for that crystal-like shine — the name Gloss Bomb holds true and will have your lips shining bright like a diamond.