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Inflation might be making Americans pinch their pennies, but research shows that one industry is doing just fine: Cosmetics — namely fragrance and lipstick.
Called “the lipstick effect” or the “lipstick index,” this phenomenon occurs whenever there’s an economic downturn: People rush out to buy lipstick for themselves as an affordable treat.
It’s no wonder we are eager to scoop up new lippies in the post-pandemic world. After so much time in face masks, indulging in the affordable luxury of silky rainbow shades is comforting – especially when lipstick trends hearken back to seemingly simpler days.
Two-tone lips are back, too, thanks in large part to younger generations on TikTok discovering the look for the first time. Of course, if you’re a Millennial or older, this lip look might feel more like a walk down memory lane than a new trend.
So how can you achieve this look without breaking the bank? Read on to find out and discover the best lip liners for 2022.
The Hidden History of Two-Toned Lips
While Hailey Bieber is getting credit for popularizing two-tone lips on TikTok recently, the truth is that this style has been around for decades.
While many white celebrities wore two-tone lips in the early aughts (and inspired us to do the same), it’s important to note that the lip trend owes its origins to Black and Latina culture, to women of color who wore bold lipliner long before it would have been considered appropriate or feminine by mass culture.
Due to the lack of beauty products that catered to Black and Latina women, and the lack of stores that would stock these products even when they were created, necessity became the mother of lip-vention, so to speak. The “nude” lip liners or pale pink shades that worked for white customers didn’t work for women of color. So, instead, Black and Latina women opted to use brow liners or eyeliners in shades of brown to line their lips. And an aesthetic was born.
“All my tias [aunts] did it, my mom, my friends,” Fenty makeup artist Priscilla Ono tells Allure. “Lip liner and a lighter was in everyone’s makeup bag — that was the thing in the ’90s.”
The lighter was used to soften the pencil and make it easier to apply, but these days, lip liners don’t need any extra help to be supple and silky. Even drugstore brands and economical options glide on with ease and come in a range of shades that suits more than just white customers.
How to Achieve Two-Tone Lip Perfection
There are many ways to sink back into this nostalgic beauty trend – or dive into it for the first time if you missed its Y2K wave. You can choose to go super bold, such as by pairing a dark brown liner with a softer, warmer lip shade, like Megan Thee Stallion has been wearing recently.
However, you might notice that Megan’s lips aren’t as severe or harsh as the two-tone lips of yesteryear. That’s because this two-tone revival calls for more blending to create a gentler effect that still packs a lot of punch.
“The late-’90s version was almost a dark ring of liner without blending, where the lip liner almost looked like a ring around the upper and lower lips,” celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek tells POPSUGAR. “The best way to update this trend is better blending and diffusing of the deeper liner shade into the lip color.”
To mimic the two-tone lip look that Megan wore to a recent red carpet event, you can look to her Instagram. There, the Revlon ambassador reveals the secrets to the look that her makeup artist Lauren Child created for her. Child used Revlon Colorstay Lip Liner in chocolate, then used Revlon’s Bare it All lipstick for the lip color.
To give Megan’s pout extra shine, she finished the look with a touch of Revlon’s Super Lustrous The Gloss in sandstorm. The result is a scene-stealing lip look that will make your lips look pouty, but not your bank account.
Another fun way to play with the two-toned trend is by going just the gloss and liner route.
Celebrity makeup artist Sheika Daley tells Vogue that a good place to start is by finding a lip liner that is one to two shades darker than your natural lip color. Then, overdraw your lips ever so slightly, focusing especially on your Cupid’s bow (as advised by Hailey Bieber, who loves this look).
Next, coat your lips in a gloss shade that you love. Brown is an obvious choice if you’re going for a ’90s look, but you can also go for plums, mauves, pinks and even reds. Voila! Two-tone lips in an accessible way that feels fresh and modern.
Watch Auraline Beauty show you how it’s done below:
And, remember, if you are on the search for the best lip liner, you don’t have to splurge at Sephora. Many drugstore brands will suffice, and these days there are finally more inclusive options for all skin shades, including this lip liner from NYX Professional Makeup.
This affordable liner has over 30,300 reviews with an almost perfect 5-star rating. Customers have left reviews like: “Literally the best lipliner, it’s so pigmented and goes on your lips smooth like butter.” And a woman who bought the 820 Espresso shade gives the company her support, writing: “As a black woman, every black girl should have this on clutch! This can redeem an unforgiving lipstick color, add definition or accentuate your lips, or look cute with lip gloss on top. Plus it’s cheap. Just get it, you won’t regret it”
Another affordable option is Maybelline’s Color Sensational Shaping Lip Liner. But don’t let the low price fool you: This lipliner has glowing reviews. At over 9,558 ratings and an almost 5-star rating, customers say: “Excellent product, makes lips look like you have perfect lips, even if you don’t,” and that it’s a good dupe for Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk. (Tillbury’s Pillow Talk line is beloved for a reason, but not everyone can rationalize spending $25 on lip liner).
But if you’re looking for something completely new, think outside the typical drugstore brands. Italia doesn’t have the name recognition of Maybelline or Rimmel, but this hidden gem offers high-quality, economical makeup. Try their lip liner and see why Italia has die-hard fans who swear by the affordable brand.
The Italia Deluxe Ultra Fine lip liner comes in a pack of 12 for just $8.44, so you can mix and match to your heart’s content until you find your favorite shade. The Italia lip liner has over 12,466 ratings and reviewers say they are shocked by the quality, writing: “Can’t believe how buttery smooth they are, has all the colors you need, can be used as full lipstick!! Love it !!!!” and, “These lip pencils are wonderful! I love the color selection, and the pigmentation of each one is really intense.”
Read more about our top picks for the best lip liner.