Hint: It's a throwback.
My love affair with lip gloss commenced in middle school, and it's still going strong. I'd smear the watermelon-flavored Lip Smacker Lip Gloss on every day. Though the goopy, drippy texture transformed my lips into a glue trap, I was mesmerized by the reflective, mirrorlike shine it left behind.
The start of my relationship with lip liner started off a bit more rocky; in fact, there wasn't really a relationship at all. Not only did I have trouble finding a shade that suited the natural tint of my lips, but I assumed that liner served two purposes: to plump your pout and extend the wear on a matte lipstick.
I'll be the first to admit that I was very, very wrong. Lip liners do it all, especially when they're paired with a translucent lip gloss. Yes, it's 2021, but lip liner and lip gloss—two mainstays of the late '90s/early-aughts era—are back. And while they'll stir up nostalgic memories, the formulas this time around are way better.
I'm always singing the praises of this dynamic makeup duo to anyone who will listen. "Defining your lips with lip liner not only accentuates shape and size, but it's also long-wearing," says L.A.-based makeup artist Tami El-Sombati. "Blending it out with a gloss adds dimension and the illusion of fuller lips."
The makeup pairing is also set to be a mainstay during this upcoming summer season. "I think, because one of the trends for this summer is going back to a fresh, natural look, pairing a lip liner with a lip gloss makes perfect sense," says Sabrina Bedrani, celebrity makeup artist and brand ambassador for Dior Makeup. "It gives you a nice shine with a hint of color, which brightens your whole face without looking too made up and where you can still control (or cheat) your lip shape."
What color lip liner goes with clear lip gloss?
I opt for a nude-colored lip liner when I'm wearing it under gloss for a more low-key look. (If you decide to go this route, you want to seek out a pencil that's as close to your natural lip color as possible.) However, according to El-Sombati, you can play around with shades. "It can be either really understated or really bold, depending on how much the shade varies from your natural lip color," she says.
How do you wear lip liner and lip gloss?
There are four key steps that you need to follow in order to nail this look: de-flake your lips, tap on a balm to trap in hydration, outline your lips, then top it off with a gloss of your choosing.
1. Exfoliate your lips
Prepping your lips is a step that you definitely shouldn't skip over. Dry patches will derail any makeup look, so be sure to rub on a gentle lip scrub in a circular motion to buff away flakes. You'll be left with smooth, crack-free lips.
2. Moisturize with a balm
Next, you want to pat on a quick-absorbing balm to create a pillow-soft canvas for your lip liner to glide over without skipping or settling into any fine lines.
3. Apply lip liner
I typically trace the pencil slightly above the perimeter of my lip line for a nice plump and an understated ombré effect. If you're a bit heavy-handed with your liner application, El-Sombati recommends using your fingers to soften any harsh edges.
You also have another option: filling in your lips completely. "The way I like to do it is to apply my lip liner all over the lips. For that, you need to make sure the lip liner has the right formula—not too dry," says Bedrani.
There's no right or wrong way to do this—it all depends on what look you're aiming to achieve.
4. Layer on the lip gloss
Once you're done lining your lips, swipe on a clear, non-sticky gloss that you won't be able to feel (or see) while you're wearing a face mask.
The end result? Cushiony, glassy lips that'll finish off any makeup look. Plus, who doesn't love a fun and modern makeup combo that allows you to reminisce on your earliest beauty memories?
Top photo: Courtesy of Instagram/@sydneyjharper
Want more stories like this?