Edwina Ings-Chambers: Best lip liners

Yes, these clever pencils really can make lips look fuller and more pillowy.

Recently, over a cup of tea with Terry Barber, director of make-up artistry for Mac Cosmetics, we happily chatted about some of the classic products the brand has produced over the years. One of them was, of course, Spice Lip Pencil, that pinky cinnamon shade that was surely the most name-dropped beauty staple by supermodels in the 90s. You couldn’t be into fashion, let alone beauty, if you didn’t have one.

edwina ings-chambers
Edwina wearing Mac’s Lip Pencil in ‘dirty rose’ shade Whirl

‘Ah, but,’ said Terry, ‘do you know the Mac Lip Pencil in Whirl?’ (Below, £17, maccosmetics.co.uk.) I did not, but I made it my business to try this early 2000s launch because Terry went on to tell me that this is the ideal shade – the brand officially describes it as a dirty rose – for pretty much every lip colour (for darker skin tones try Chestnut) to create the look of a fuller lip without it seeming fake.

Mac lip liner

Simply draw round the edge of the lips but also just a little outside the edge too and – hey presto! – you create a totally believable optical illusion that things are a bit more pillowy than they really are. You can use that to outline before applying a nudey lip colour or, as I tend to do, fill in the whole lip and use it instead of a lipstick (some prefer to do this but as a base to lipstick to make it last longer). I’m prone to dry lips and I’ve always found using only lip liner as my colour works well.

Sensai Lip Treatment
Sensai Lip Treatment

I’ll sometimes put a balm on top to add shine or texture and keep lips hydrated. My much loved Sensai Lip Treatment (above, £87, harrods.com) is still the best I’ve found and really helps to keep dehydration at bay. Though expensive, you only need the smallest amount.

dolce & gabbana lip liner

And as Whirl enters my essential beauty arsenal I’m reminded of Dolce & Gabbana Precision Lip Liner in Dahlia (above, £22, lookfantastic.com). A deep berry, it’s an excellent shade for nights out. I was never without it years ago but have somehow left it to languish. No longer. Lip liners and I are seriously back in business.

For a hit of hydration…

Continuing a lip colour theme, I must also seriously praise the new Sisley Phyto-Rouge Shine (£40, sisley-paris.com). This is a wonderful hybrid that offers a sheer wash of colour with the creamy texture of a lipstick. It has a shine finish combined with some serious hydration technology, as well as moringa and jojoba oils to nourish. What’s more, the supremely elegant white and gold zebra-print case is refillable.

Sisley Phyto-Rouge Shine
Sisley Phyto-Rouge Shine

…And colour that lasts

Also bringing lipcare qualities to lip colour is the new L’Oréal Paris Color Riche Intense Volume Matt Lipstick (£9.99, boots.com). The creamy, velvety formula locks in moisture – and has staying power, too. I’ve had this tested on coffee cups and it has still lasted the day (there were lip prints left on the rim of the cup and still plenty left on the lips). Housed in a slim, sleek case, this offers much more in quality and looks than you might expect for the price.

L’Oréal Paris Color Riche Intense Volume Matt Lipstick