The ‘90s have delivered countless beauty trends that have stood the test of time. From shaggy haircuts to matte makeup and smudgy eyeliner, there’s been no shortage of inspiring looks. While some styles have come and gone over the years, brown lip liners have always remained a makeup staple. The reason for their longevity in the industry is simple. Like the best trends, they are versatile, easy to wear, and seemingly foolproof to apply. Similar to nude lipstick, brown lip liners have the ability to create a “your lips but better” look in a few swipes.
Despite their ease, there is an art to choosing the right chocolate liner. As Robert Sesnek, celebrity makeup artist, says, it’s all about the look you want to create. “The color can be perfect for lightly defining and shaping the lip line or adding more depth and fullness,” he says. With the return of lipgloss combos and matte nude bullets, it’s clear that the lip looks of the ‘90s are here to stay. Even if you’re new to using liners, nailing this timeless trend is easier than you think.
Ahead, three celebrity makeup artists share their advice for finding the right shade for your complexion, application tips, and their top picks.
How To Shop For Brown Lip Liner
In terms of makeup, brown is the ultimate beloved color. Whether an understated matte eyeshadow palette or a glowy bronzer, the hue has neutral undertones that play well with any skin tone. With that in mind, it’s best to categorize lip liners as you would complexion products. “Most shades of brown fall into either warm or cool groups,” says Sesnek. When shopping for a new pencil, he suggests first thinking about what kind of a look you want to create and then selecting a color that fits your preference.
The texture is also important — a chalky pencil tugged across your lips isn’t exactly comfortable or chic. “You definitely want a creamy formula that blends easily and delivers a blurred finish,” says Jamie Greenberg, celebrity makeup artist and founder of JamieMakeup. As a general rule of thumb, she recommends checking for lip-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, castor oil, and candelilla to condition and keep dryness to a minimum.
How To Apply Brown Lip Liner
Brown liner creates an illusion of fuller, more plump lips, so it works no matter your lip size, shape, or color. For a natural look, opt for a shade slightly darker than your lips. “Starting in the center of the cupid’s bow, draw a thin line to define the natural lip line, ensuring the corners of the mouth are connected,” says Sesnek. After fully outlining the top and bottom, he mentions buffing the edges to remove any harshness and give a seamless finish. To finish, apply a lipstick or gloss to the center and blot until blended.
The staple hue can also be used to contour the lips for a plumper appearance. “If you prefer to overdraw, you can go a little outside your natural curves of the top and bottom lips,” says Greenberg. Instead of using your finger to blend the product in, she recommends swapping in a small lip brush for a clean look.
Regardless of what look you’re aiming for, the goal is to enhance, so accuracy is essential. However, if you just want to add a touch of dimension, a neutral-colored pencil will work best. “Shading the outer corners of the lip and a little bit of the Cupid’s bow accentuates the shape,” says celebrity makeup artist Samantha Lau. Next, she suggests topping it with a clear gloss or lip balm.
Finding the right hue of brown all depends on your skin tone and personal preference. Ahead, a few solid options to get you started.
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