Almost everybody has that one product they’re constantly searching for – the perfect concealer, the perfect eyebrow pencil – the product they continue to sample from a range of brands in the hunt for perfection.
Currently, I’m seeking out my perfect lip pencil. Lip pencils, in general, aren’t a glamorous makeup purchase. There’s nothing particularly fun about them. They’re a chore-like step in your routine, if used at all, and often get covered up by the more fun lipstick or gloss. But, as my lip line shows the early signs of feathering, and over-drawn lips remain on trend, I find myself in need of a perfect ‘my lip colour’ lip pencil.
Some people love the look of a contrasting lip pencil to lipstick colour, preferring a slightly darker edge. I personally prefer my lip line to be defined, but to blend seamlessly with the rest of my lips. I don’t even want you to know that I’m wearing a a lip pencil. It simply needs to add shape, and provide a base for lipstick longevity – that’s all.
That, it seems, is harder to find than I thought. Firstly, I went to the Queen of cult lip liner: Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk. Still very high on my list, this lip pencil is a wonderful soft texture meaning you don’t have to drag it along your lip line. For many, this is a perfect ‘my lip’ shade but on me, it’s a little too brown and a little too mauve. It deepens the tone of my lips a touch too much that they lose some of the life from them. Close, but no cigar.
I moved on to another Tilbury shade, Pink Venus, in the hopes that going slightly pinker, slightly brighter, would do the trick. A beautiful peachy coral, this is a lovely lip liner but to channel Goldilocks, wasn’t just right.
Go big or go home, I thought, and headed to the Sisley counter. Sisley, the home of my favourite ever facial fake tan and some of the most expensive products on the market. Sisley lip pencils are having a bit of a moment, it seems, with Michelle Wang being among the You Tube creators touting their wonderfulness. Luxe, for sure, they remind me of lip liners from my mother’s makeup bag as a child, when glamour was built in to every product a brand created. With a dual ended gold lid, one covering the pencil and the other a lip brush, lining your lips with a Sisley pencil feels like a treat. With no obvious soft pink in the range, I went with 01 Nude, a muted pink-brown. The texture is soft and this could be the ideal lip liner, if the colour just matched my lips. Too brown.
I went to MAC, I looked at Nars, and I started to lose hope. It appears that most beauty brands only think you’re using a lip pencil for a brightly coloured lip, or, the brownest of nudes. Sure, while I find I need the help of a lip pencil more when doing say, a strong red lip, or a statement fuchsia look, I also want one for those no-makeup makeup looks.
I ended up scouring the more budget friendly brands, putting the gold-lidded glamour of Sisley behind me and swatching Maybelline, L’Oreal and Revlon on my wrist. I came away with two new, and now much-used favourites. Rimmel London’s Exaggerate Full Colour Lip Liner in 063 Eastend Snob is undoubtedly pinker than my other try-outs, but I find it working very well on my lip colour. While the brand’s decision to create the slanted shape of the bullet will forever confuse me, I appreciate the twist-up function and find myself reaching for this when I can’t find my most liked lip pencil.
Maybelline’s Colorsensational Shaping Lip Liner in 130 Dusty Rose is that most-liked pencil. No, it’s not perfection, but it’s not too far off. Ever so slightly more brown and less pink than Maybelline, the shade works really well to enhance my own lip colour and the pencil itself is soft and creamy. For the first time I feel that I can confidently over-line my lips so that they appear a touch fuller but not obviously fake. This colour is, it has to be said, more pink than my lips, so when I use it on the entire lip it does add a wash of colour, but if the choice is between going browner, or going pinker, the latter always looks more flatting on my complexion. Maybelline have thought of just about everything in terms of practicalities, with a sturdy lid (no handbag destroying), twist up function and a sharpening tool hidden at the other end. This might not be the end of my search for the perfect lip liner, but for now me and my Maybelline are pretty happy together.