Lip liner is an essential part of many makeup routines. It helps define the lips, prevents feathering, and allows lipstick to stay put. But to do its job properly, lip liner needs to be sharpened. A blunt or poorly sharpened lip liner will skip, tug, and fail to draw crisp lines.
Sharpening seems simple enough, but lip liners can be tricky. The wrong techniques or tools can damage pencils or leave them lumpy and uneven. Fortunately, with the right strategies you can sharpen any type of lip liner into a perfect point.
In this complete guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about sharpening lip liners. I’ll cover:
- General rules and tips for sharpening any lip liner
- Special considerations for sharpening plastic lip liners
- How to sharpen popular formulas like Kylie Lip Liners
- Troubleshooting options if you don’t have a sharpener
- Which lip liners come with their own sharpeners
Let’s start with some best practices that work for sharpening all types of lip liner.
General Rules For Sharpening Lip Liners
Sharpening lip liners comes down to two key elements – having the right tools, and using the proper techniques.
Invest In A Good Lip Liner Sharpener
Not all pencil sharpeners are created equal when it comes to lip liners. The hole is often too large, which can crack or break delicate lip pencils. Specialty lip liner sharpeners have a smaller opening designed specifically for the thin diameter of lip pencils.
Look for sharpeners intended for makeup pencils, like these:
- Tarte Cosmetics Sharpener – Double-sided sharpener with both a large and small hole for different pencil sizes. The small opening is perfect for lip liners.
- NYX Cosmetics Makeup Pencil Sharpener – Affordable option with a tiny hole for sharpening all lip and eye pencils.
- Sephora Collection Mini Pencil Sharpener – Compact stainless steel sharpener with sharp blade for smooth sharpening.
The key is finding a sharpener with an opening only slightly larger than the lip liner. This prevents breakage while sharpening.
Pop Lip Liners In The Fridge
Here’s a little trick I swear by – pop lip liners in the fridge for 5-10 minutes before sharpening. The chilled temperature firms up soft, creamy formulas, making them less likely to break or get lumpy during sharpening.
This is especially helpful if you live in a warm, humid environment where lip liners get melty and hard to manage.
Once chilled, the formula is firm enough to sharpen cleanly. Just remember to sharpen gently (more on that next).
Go Slow And Steady
When it comes to pressure, a light touch is best. Hold the sharpener firmly on a flat surface and slowly twist the lip liner with gentle, even motions. Don’t grind too hard or you’ll end up with breakage.
I like to check the tip every 5-6 twists to make sure I’m not over-sharpening. Twist, check, and repeat until you’ve got a tapered point.
Sharpen Before Each Use
For smooth, effortless application, sharpen lip liners before each use. A freshly sharpened pencil glides onto lips without catching or skipping. Plus, regular sharpening makes it easier to maintain the intended shape of the lip liner point.
I aim for a slanted point versus a blunt tip. The angled point cups the contours of lips for crisp, defined lines.
These basic principles work for most traditional lip liner formulas. But some require a bit more finesse. Next I’ll go over best practices for sharpening creamier, plastic-based lip liners.
Special Considerations For Sharpening Plastic Lip Liners
In recent years, more brands have released conditioning, hydrating lip liners in a plastic component. Formulas often contain shea butter, oils, and other emollients.
While amazing on lips, these creamy pencils can be tricky to sharpen. Plastic dulls blade quickly, and the creamy formula is sensitive to pressure. With the right techniques, you can sharpen these plush pencils into perfect points.
Let The Fridge Work Its Magic
The first step is – you guessed it – popping the lip liner in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes. The chilled temperature makes the formula firm and less delicate.
Even if it’s not hot outside, I recommend this trick with plastic lip liners. It just makes the actual sharpening process easier.
Use The Brand’s Recommended Sharpener
With plastic lip liners, it’s best to use the sharpener designed specifically for that formula. Many brands sell custom sharpeners made to work with the exact dimensions and texture of their pencils.
For example, Pat McGrath Labs’ Permagel Lip Pencils come with a dual sharpener with special grooves to grip the rounded barrel. Using this sharpener ensures a smooth, even tip.
When possible, invest in the sharpener made for the brand of lip liner. You’ll get the best results.
Check For Built-In Sharpeners
Before grabbing a separate sharpener, check if the lip liner has a built-in sharpener or twist up function. Many plastic lip liners now come with these handy features.
Products like NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil have a sharpener on the end cap so you can refresh the tip as needed. Other liners like Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil simply twist up and down like a lipstick.
See if your plastic lip liner has one of these time-saving functions before grabbing a sharpener. Either way, go slowly and gently to avoid cracking the lip pencil.
Next, let’s talk about how to sharpen one of the most popular lip liner formulas on the market – Kylie Lip Liners.
How To Sharpen Kylie Lip Liners
Kylie Lip Liners are a makeup staple for creating Kylie Jenner’s signature bold lip. The ultra-creamy formula deposits rich, saturated color in one stroke. Like most creamy liners, they require a gentle approach when it comes to sharpening.
Use Kylie’s Lip Pencil Sharpener
I highly recommend using the official Kylie Cosmetics Lip Pencil Sharpener. It has a tiny opening designed specifically for the brand’s lip liners. This prevents cracking or breaking that can happen with a larger, generic sharpener.
It’s an essential tool for keeping Kylie Lip Liners perfectly sharp. Using a dull or wrong-sized sharpener is one of the biggest mistakes with this formula.
Check Sharpener Blade For Dullness
Before inserting your Kylie Lip Liner into the sharpener, inspect the actual blade inside the hole. Is it still sharp, or does it look dull and worn down?
A dull blade is more likely to break off chunks of lip liner versus shave it into a clean, angled point. Replace the blade if needed to prevent damaging lip pencils.
Go Slow And Steady
Once chilled in the fridge, start sharpening the Kylie Lip Liner by twisting slowly and gently. Apply light, even pressure with each twist to gradually taper the tip.
Periodically stop and check progress. These creamy pencils sharpen quickly, so you want to avoid over-sharpening.
Just a dozen or so twists should be enough to achieve the signature slanted tip.
Optional: Extra Chill In Fridge
Since Kylie Lip Liners contain hydrating ingredients like vitamin E and coconut oil, consider chilling them a bit longer than other lip liners.
I’ll place Kylie Lip Liners in the fridge for up to 5 minutes before sharpening. The extra chill firms them up, creating less friction and resistance for the blade.
This makes sharpening smoother, and the angled tip effortlessly glides onto lips without tugging.
Now that you know how to properly sharpen Kylie Lip Liners, let’s tackle a common question:
Do Kylie Lip Liners Twist Up?
Many people wonder if Kylie Lip Liners feature a twist up or retractable function. I’m here to clear up that – no, Kylie Lip Liners do not twist up.
The pencils do not contain an internal mechanism for twisting up product. There is also no built-in sharpener on the end cap.
Instead, you’ll need to manually sharpen Kylie Lip Liners with each use. Just be sure to use Kylie’s brand sharpener and go slowly. With the right technique, you’ll enjoy crisp, flawless application every time.
What if you don’t have an actual lip liner sharpener? Not to worry – here are some troubleshooting tips for sharpening lip liner without a sharpener.
How To Sharpen Lip Liner Without A Sharpener
While specialty lip liner sharpeners are ideal, you can sharpen lip pencils using household items in a pinch. Here are some techniques to try:
Use A Sharpening Stone
A small sharpening stone, like those made for kitchen knives, can grind down lip pencils into a tapered tip. Hold the pencil at a 45 degree angle against the stone. Gently swivel the pencil to shave away excess material.
Go slowly to avoid breaking the pencil core. The result is a pointed tip for effortless lip lining.
While unorthodox, using a pair of sharp scissors can work. Carefully hold the lip pencil tip between the scissor blades at an angle. Apply light upward pressure as if cutting across the pencil.
Rotate and repeat until the tip is sharply angled. Be extremely careful not to snip off too much product.
Use A Knife or Pocket Knife
Similarly, the blade of a knife or pocket knife can sharpen lip pencils. Hold the pencil at a 45 degree angle to the blade. Apply gentle pressure and swivel the base of the pencil against the blade to sharpen the tip.
Be cautious and always sharpen away from your hand and body. Only attempt this if you feel comfortable using a knife or pocket knife safely.
Use A General Pencil Sharpener
If you have absolutely no other option, you can attempt using a standard pencil sharpener. The opening will likely be too large for a precise application. Make sure to clean out any debris so you don’t mix lip pencil colors.
Rotate gently to avoid cracking lip pencils. Still, investing in a proper lip pencil sharpener is highly recommended for the best results.
Now let’s look at a few lip liner sets that actually include their own built-in sharpener for convenience:
Lip Liners That Come With A Sharpener
Several premium lip liner sets include a specially designed sharpener so you never have to go hunting for tools. Here are a few options that contain both liners and sharpeners:
Makeup By Mario Ultra Suede Sculpting Lip Pencil Set
This set of nude lip liners by celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic includes a stainless steel sharpener with both a large and small hole. The compact sharpener ensures you can taper the slim lip pencils to a defined point.
Pat McGrath Labs PermaGel Ultra Lip Pencil Set
Pat McGrath’s ultra-smooth lip liners come with a uniquely designed sharpener that grips the round barrel for precise sharpening. No more fighting to fit lip pencils into generic holes.
Nudestix Magnetic Matte Lip Color Pencil Set
This set of six nude and neutral tones from Nudestix includes their innovative Twisty Pencil Sharpener. It has a rotating sharpener hole to fit all sizes of Nudestix pencils.
Investing in a set with included sharpeners saves you money and trouble down the road. No more rummaging for tools or making due with the wrong sharpener.
The Key Takeaways For Sharpening Lip Liners
Sharpening lip liners can seem tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Following these key tips will keep your lip liners in flawless condition:
- Invest in a sharpener designed specifically for lip/makeup pencils
- Chill lip liners in the fridge before sharpening creamy formulas
- Apply light, even pressure and sharpen slowly
- Sharpen to a tapered point and check progress periodically
- Look for built-in sharpeners on plastic lip liners
- Use recommended sharpeners for popular brands like Kylie
- Troubleshoot with sharpening stones, scissors, or knives if needed
- Consider sets with included sharpeners for convenience
With the right sharpener and techniques, you can easily sharpen lip liners into the perfect point. No more tugging, skipping, or uneven application. Just smooth, creamy definition every time you line your lips.
Sharpening is the key to lip liner success! Now go get those pencils pointy.