How & why to wear lip liner / the joys of colouring in

How & why to wear lip liner / The joys of colouring in


The child-like, dress-up nature of make up application is inherent, but the convergence of childish pursuits is never more direct than with a lip liner. It is literally a pencil crayon you use to colour in your face.

I bought my first lip liner this week. I actually only grew into lipsticks this year after a derogatory comment on one of my earlier attempts smarted for longer than it should have. So I saw the liner purchase as a stamp of my newfound dedication to a brightly-lipped future. And it felt good.

But where to start?

The legacy I have from the year I spent working in a children’s bookshop is that I can now relate most new life events to kids books, and this is no exception. My lip liner book of choice is The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers.*

As the title suggests, a little boy’s box of crayons go on strike for reasons relating to his strictly traditional colour usage (Blue is tired from all the sea and sky, Beige is losing out to Brown, and Yellow is at war with Orange over who is the true colour of the sun). It’s a delightful tale of the importance of imagination and creativity and its something we can all take face-inspiration from.

I never quite grasped the point of lip liner. It seemed to be the preserve of make up artists and pop stars from the 90s. I had a vague understanding that it prevented your lipstick from bleeding all over your face, but the idea of buying a second product to fix the failings of the first seemed like a classic capitalist trap to me. That is to say, until I had to deal with the indignity of bleeding lipstick.

As it turns out, a liner’s uses are numerous: define the lips, vaguely shade for a wash of colour, fill in completely as a lipstick base, under a smear of lip balm or alone for a solid matte finish.** In short, you can dismiss your traditional preconceptions and if I can resist the urge to scrawl a hilarious clown mouth on myself this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Occasionally, in the bookshop, we would receive a delivery of really beautiful colouring-in books and I would flick through their pages, filled with prophetic dismay at the undoubted ruin a child’s lack of dexterity would bring to the surprisingly intricate designs. Was it worth buying? I did get a 40% discount. But would I sit at home colouring in? Probably not.

But don’t let maturity stop you being creative. Buy a lip liner. Celebrate the joy of being able to get colourful on your face. Think outside the box. Just don’t colour outside the lines.

*If you’re not aware of Oliver Jeffers’ work, you should change that – he’s sort of a children’s book rock star. His stories and illustrations are magical. He signed a copy of Lost and Found for me and told me he liked my name; it was wonderful.

**If you really want to know how to use a lip liner, you should ask a real beauty website or a real beauty person. Remember, I only own one lip liner. It’s Rimmel, by the way.

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