Some great options: Rare Beauty’s Kind Words Lipliner in Talented for a peachy brown, Bobbi Brown’s Lip Pencil in Ballet Pink for a mauve brown, and LYS Beauty’s Speak Love Lip Liner Pencil in Devoted for a deep espresso-brown.
However, don’t get too hung up on trying to find a “correct combo.” Brown is not only a universal shade, but is also ultra-forgiving. “You don’t have to match the tone of your liner to your overall lip color, lipstick, or gloss,” says Davy.
You can even layer two or more colors to create a unique look. For example, mixing Chanel’s Longwear Lip Pencil in Brun Carmin and Prune Noire gives me the perfect red-brown that I love pairing with a rose-colored lipstick. But on other days, I may also try it with a chocolate brown liner if I want a deeper finish.
How to Apply Brown Lip Liner
Pairing a brown liner with a vibrant coral or electric Barbie pink lipstick may seem outrageous, but the result proves otherwise. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Reach for a dull lip pencil.
Both Brown and Davy agree that when it comes to lip pencils, the duller, the better. If a lip liner is too sharp, the finish may look harsh — or the line may be too fine. “I love soft diffusion on the edges of lips,” Brown shares. “When I’m using just a brown lip liner as sort of a drop shadow that will sit behind the lip color, [a diffused line] helps make lips authentically look fuller.”
Step 2: Line the lips.
Hold off on applying lip balm. “For staying power, I like to line on drier lips,” Brown says. “If lips are too hydrated or have too much slip to them, it prevents the waxy liner from creating a bond with the lip. It will sort of float on top of the emollient lip balm.”
Follow along the perimeter of your lips. “Then, on the sides of the lip, top, and bottom, sketch the liner inwards towards the [center] of your lips,” Brown shares. This helps to blend the color versus creating a distinct border.
Step 3 (optional): Diffuse the color.
If you used a liner that was too sharp, or applied too much product, grab a small, angled makeup brush, like MAC’s 263 Synthetic Angle Brush, to soften the liner color towards the center of the lips. This is a great tip to follow when pairing a brown liner with a sheer gloss to achieve a blended finish. “I think it looks more artful, glam, and a tiny bit lived in,” says Davy. “Your lips will look luscious and full.”