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How to Contour Lips

by Dan Ketchum, studioD

Time isn't kind to lips. After 30, your lips start to lose essential collagen, resulting in decreased volume and fullness and sometimes a loss of color. Expensive permanent makeup and surgeries help restore that youthful cupid's bow to your kisser, but simply accenting the natural contour of your lips with makeup also does the trick. Even if your lips are still in their prime, you can use a few different options to highlight their natural curve.

Dab a bit of translucent powder on a small- or medium-sized concealer brush and trace along the lower edge of your lip line with smooth, repeating strokes. Trace the upper edge of the lip line -- the line where your lips meet your skin, known as the vermilion border -- as well. This simple technique subtly accents your contour and helps keep bold lipstick colors from running, so apply the powder after you've put on lip color.

Line and fill in your lips with a lip liner pencil that matches your lipstick, and then apply the lipstick. Trace your upper vermilion border and make two light lines on either side of your philtrum, that little indentation above your upper lip, using a white eyeliner pencil. Gently blend the lines with your finger. This all-purpose contour effect suits virtually all styles of lip makeup.

Trace the outer corners of your lips with a lip liner a shade darker than your lipstick, making two inward-facing “V” shapes. Gently brush the lines to blend them. Inside those corner lines, trace the natural contour of your upper and lower lips with a liner that is a shade lighter than lipstick, and then fill your lips in with that shade and apply a sheer lipstick. This contouring technique works best with lighter shades of lipstick and highlights your contour with a slight ombre effect.

Items you will need
  •  Concealer brush
  •  Translucent powder
  •  Lip liner pencils
  •  White eyeliner pencil


  • Before applying contour lines or lipstick, use an exfoliating lip scrub. Exfoliating your lips gives them a plumper, fuller appearance, which brings out the contour even more.

About the Author

Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images