What Is Lip Contouring?

We’ve all seen makeup artists turn even the thinnest of lines into plump, luscious-looking lips. When this lippy magic is achieved, everyone immediately thinks, “Lip fillers, right?” but that’s not always the case. If you have thin to medium-sized lips, you’ll be amazed at what the right lip contour can do for you.

Lip contouring is exactly what it sounds like: manipulating light and shadows to make your lips look fuller, bigger, and like you just got the perfect amount of lip filler. It’s not going to do miracles, but it’s sure to temporarily enhance your pout.

Woman painted pink lips. Beauty lips make-up.

How to Contour Lips

So, if you’re just about ready to dive face-first (or should we say, lip first?) into the world of lip contour, here are some beginners tips from Scott Barnes:

1. Exfoliate

It’s no secret that exfoliating your skin means smoother makeup application, and that’s just as true for lip contour. Getting rid of dead skin will leave you with a smooth canvas that’s ready to be crafted into a plumper-looking lip.

Two great ways to exfoliate your lips include putting a little petroleum jelly on a toothbrush and lightly scrubbing your lips or using some sugar and a damp cloth to rub across them, just like a DIY sugar scrub.

2. Create a Blank Canvas

Next up, cover your lips with a thin layer of foundation. This will help your lip contour stand out more and give it a smoother finish.

3. Contour Your Lips

If you’re looking to bring out the fullness of your lips, contouring around your lips is the secret. This can be done using a high quality angled brush, like the Scott Barnes Lip & Eye Duality Liner Brush.

Apply the Sculpting and Contour palette past your lip line, over your cupid's bow, and across the bottom of your lip for a plumping effect. Then, using your Scott Barnes #60 brush, outline the inner corners of your lips along your lip line. For an even more contoured look, you can deepen the corners of your lips too.

A great rule to follow when contouring is to overline more in the center of your lips and to stick to your natural lip shape as you move to the sides. This creates the illusion of fuller, pouty lips.

4. Overline

After contouring your lips you can use a lip liner to further define your lips and add more depth. A slight overline will make your lips look fuller and bigger from all angles. But be careful—too much overlining and the view from the sides will give you away.

Once you’re done lining your lips, blend the liner inward, so it creates a smoother finish. Finally, add a little contour underneath the center of your bottom lip. This will make your bottom lip look fuller.

5. Make Your Cupid’s Bow Pop

Using your favorite Scott Barnes lip liner that’s just a little darker than your natural lip skin tone, draw an X that follows the lines of your cupid’s bow. Then just above your cupid’s bow, add a little highlighter. This will make your top lip stand out more, too, creating the appearance of gorgeous, plump lips.

6. Fill

Now, it’s time to fill your lips with your favorite lipstick. Apply it all over your lips, and use a lip brush to lightly blend the liner and lipstick.

7. Highlight

Just like with face contour, one of the last and most important steps of contouring your lips is highlighting. Use a lighter lipstick shade and dab it on the center of both your lips. Use a clean lip brush or your finger to gently dab the color in.

If you’re going for a matte lip, you can stop here, but if you’re opting for a dewier look, you can add a thin layer of clear gloss to really enhance that shine.

Tips to Make Lips Look Bigger

Even if contouring your lips isn’t your thing, there are other ways to make your lips look bigger and fuller.

1. Moisturize

Dry, chapped lips just don’t have the same luster as moisturized lips. Regularly using an intensely hydrating lip balm can keep your lips looking healthier and bigger.

2. Rehydrate

Keeping your lips full and hydrated is about more than just lip balm. There are a lot of great, hydrating lip masks out there that can leave your lips looking softer and bigger.

3. Use a Lip Plumper

Although they’re not as long-lasting or volume-boosting as lip fillers, there are a lot of good-quality lip glosses that will make your lips look plumper. It’s a great way to get a temporary lip filling effect.

Essential Scott Barnes Lip Contour Products

Perfect woman's lips before and after retouch

Lip contouring only works if you’re using high quality, pigmented products in ultra-wearable shades that are designed to make the contouring process easier.

Scott Barnes has years of experience personally developing looks and products used by major celebrities like Jennifer Lopez. He’s created a line of affordable, high-quality lip liners, glosses, and liquid lip products designed to make your lips look better than ever before, whether you’re going for a bright pop of color or a neutral lip.

Browse Scott Barnes’ Lip Makeup Collection or Scott Barnes’ Atelier Lip Liners to find your new favorite long-wearing shades.