When you’re hitting the town, lipstick just doesn’t cut it. Providing long-lasting depth and sharpness as well as a boost in volume, a liner takes your lips from average to Kim K in a matter of seconds.
But when should you switch to an organic or natural lip liner, crayon or pencil? When you’re trying to avoid toxic ingredients and maintain a clean beauty routine, that’s when.
Lip liners can contain all the common offenders like parabens, BHA and BHT preservatives, as well as synthetic fragrances and flavors. But they also contain their own special blends of harmful ingredients.
In this guide, we’re deep-diving into the ingredients you need to avoid and making recommendations on the best natural and organic lip liners on the market. Let’s go.
INGREDIENTS TO AVOID IN AN ORGANIC OR NATURAL LIP LINER
While any skincare or cosmetic with harmful or toxic chemicals carries a risk, lip liner is particularly risky. Why? There are a few reasons.
First off, the skin on your lips is sensitive and relatively thin, which means it more easily absorbs what you put on them. Secondly, the skin on the lips doesn’t have hair or sweat glands, so they don’t have the natural defenses you find on the rest of your body. And, lastly, your lips are connected to your mouth. Licking your lips, drinking, or eating can lead to ingestion.
Lip liners can contain all the most common chemicals we try to avoid in our cosmetics and skincare, like parabens, phthalates, PEGs, and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. We’ve talked about these many times and by now you know what to avoid. So, in this guide, we’re just going to focus on the 3 most important things to avoid in a lip liner: petroleum and mineral oils, lead, and synthetic dyes.
Petroleum and mineral oils are common bases for lip liners because they help the product glide on smoothly, they prevent clumping, and they lock in moisture, so the lips feel hydrated. But petroleum and mineral oils can clog pores and cause buildup on the skin. With prolonged exposure, they can also lead to skin allergies, inflammation, and compromised immune system. Not to mention that petroleum isn’t exactly environmentally friendly.
Manufacturers don’t put lead in lip liners as an ingredient, of course. It’s a byproduct of some of the other ingredients created during the manufacturing process, and it occurs in high end products just as often as it does in cheap ones. We know that lead exposure over the long-term can have an impact on the brain and fertility, and it’s also been linked to cancer.
Dye is what gives us such a wide range of color choices in lip liner. But many of these dyes are harmful, especially those derived from aluminum and petroleum. These dyes are linked to irritation and increased sensitivity, they get stored in our organs and fatty tissues and some even contain heavy metals. Coal tar is a particularly harmful (and particularly common) dye that’s been linked to cancer.
The cosmetic industry has claimed that the amounts of these chemicals in lip liners are safe because the dose per application is so low. But if you’re using the product long-term, things like lead and heavy metals build up in the body. So, in our humble opinion, it’s best to avoid these and switch your lip liner for something natural or organic – and we’ve researched and recommended all the best ones for you below.
BEST ORGANIC AND NATURAL LIP LINERS
Natural and organic lip liners contain ingredients that nourish and soothe your lips while providing professional level of makeup performance. When you need a liner that can go all night while keeping your lips safe and protected, you need to choose one of these top 9 natural and organic lip liners.
Jane Iredale Lip Pencil $17
You can use these popular lip liners to create a sharp outline or as a blendable addition to your lip-look. The rich and creamy formula contains the antioxidant power of shea butter and vitamin E and conditioning oils such as jojoba, meadowfoam, mango, and macadamia. With the likes of these ingredients, all 12 shades glide on smooth and don’t tug on sensitive skin. If you’re gluten-intolerant, you can choose from the entire collection and if you’re vegan, Jane Iredale ensures that you have plenty of options, too.
Lily Lolo Lip Pencil $16
A mineral cosmetics company that uses 100% all-natural ingredients, these lip pencils are available in three shades. Lily Lolo is free of chemicals, dyes and fillers, so your lips get the nourishment they need from fruit, seed, and rice waxes. These ingredients make the liner creamy and smooth for easy application that doesn’t feather or run into your lipstick.
Gabriel Cosmetics Lip Liner $12
All 7 shades of this traditional lip-liner contain naturally-sourced ingredients such as jojoba oil and sea fennel extract to revitalize and hydrate your lips while they define them. The soothing and smooth formula is achieved with Jojoba Oil. And all of Gabriel Cosmetics products are certified vegan – so you’re doing our furry friends a favor by using this product.
RMS Beauty Lip Liner $20
Available in 3 shades, a daytime and nighttime nude as well as a seductive red, these organic lip liner colors were curated to pair perfectly with any of your favorite lip shades or to be used as an all-over lip color. There’s no need to sharpen this twist-up liner that’s formulated with hydrating ingredients such as sunflower seed oil as well as conditioning waxes like organic beeswax and organic carnauba wax.
HoneyBee Gardens Irresistible Lip Liner $8,50
This affordable liner is easy on your wallet as well as your body and the environment in which you live. All 5 shades of this ultra-soft and weightless pencil liner are paraben and animal byproduct-free. They can be used to accentuate your lip line or as a buildable primer for additional lip color. With a matte finish that lasts all day long, HoneyBee liners are also smudge proof and won’t leave behind any harsh lines or feather effects.
Era Perez All Natural Sesame Lip Liner $25
In 2 shades (nude & natural pink) that compliment most skin tones, this slimline liner makes for easy application whether you’re shaping your lips or blending with another color. Blending premium oils like sesame nourishing plant extracts, and perfectly pigmented minerals, these liners are antioxidant-rich so they protect your lips as much as they make them stand out.
Zuzu Luxe Innocence Lip Liner $16.99
These highly pigmented natural lip liners glide on smoothly to define lips. Coming in 9 shades, the vegan formula includes ingredients like Jojoba Oil and Sea Fennel extract to nourish lips. These lip liners are also cruelty-free and free of known skin irritants like parabens and coal tar derivatives.
Kjaer Weis Lip Pencil $30
Coconut oil and conditioning carnauba and candelilla waxes are the star ingredients of this 5 shade collection by luxury organic cosmetic line, Kjaer Weis. But soft-finishing, safe, raw ingredients aren’t the only sustainable part of these liners – they’re also refillable, like every other product made by this fan-favorite brand.
HOW TO CHOOSE AND APPLY A LIP LINER
We have to be honest: your lip liner is only as good as the shade you choose and the way you apply it. Used incorrectly, a lip liner looks unnatural and far too 1992 for our liking.
So, first things first, how do you choose a lip liner? One of the main purposes of a lip liner is to add definition. It does that by creating distinct edges. In order to do so, the color doesn’t need to exactly match that of your lipstick, but it shouldn’t be more than one or two shades lighter or darker.
To decide which way to go, you’ll want to decide the look you’re trying to achieve. If you’re looking for something dramatic and defined, go one or two shades darker than your lipstick. For a softer look, go for the same shade or one or two shades lighter.
One key to keep in mind is to ensure that your liner and lipstick belong to the same color family. If the lipstick you’re wearing has purple undertones, for example, then your liner should also have purple undertones.
Once you have your perfect shade, you can start using it to create a more defined lip. Start with some lip moisturizer to make for a smoother application. Then, start from the top corner of the lip and make short, natural strokes. Follow just outside your natural lip line if you want to create a fuller lip. Do the bottom lip after the first.
Lips are in. And for the most supple, kissable lips, you need to cut out the synthetic, artificial, and harmful chemicals found in conventional liners and introduce products that nourish and hydrate while they give you the definition you’re looking for. Choose from these top 9 best natural and organic lip liners and quench your thirsty lips.