How to Contour Lips

How to Contour Lips features photo

Plump, full, voluminous, and pouty lips are no longer a distant dream. With the emergence of various lip augmentation treatments and procedures, lip contouring is slowly making a comeback. Many ask and wonder how to contour lips for that extra volume without fillers and injections.

Start by prepping your lips with a gentle exfoliator and a nourishing lip balm. Then, lay a blank canvas on your lips with foundation or concealer. Focus on your cupid’s bow and bottom lip. Overline them and the rest of your lips going from the center to the corners. Fill in with your lipstick and top off with gloss and highlight the cupid’s bow.

Of course, there are other makeup hacks and techniques you can add to your makeup routine to make your lips pop out and give them the illusion of added volume. What we have below are just the basics.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about lip contouring including what it does to your lips and how to do it yourself.

What is Lip Contouring?

Full, voluminous lips never seem to go out of style. It’s one of those things that are always on trend and always sought-after.

With celebrities sporting plump and full pouts on red-carpet events, more and more people are looking to achieve the same things. As lip augmentation treatments and procedures are becoming readily available more than ever to the public, that goal is never too far to reach.

Though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting lip filler and injections or going under the knife for one’s lip goals, it isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea.

Luckily, one doesn’t have to go through these treatments and procedures to achieve plumper lips. That’s what the magic of makeup is for.

Lip contouring, just like face contouring, is a makeup hack and technique used to enhance the fullness and volume of your lips. It uses light and dark shades, shadows, and highlights to (in most instances) create the illusion of fuller, plumper, and more voluminous lips.

If you are looking to make lips thinner, contouring can also help but is a little more tricky. If your lips are swollen for other reasons, read about how to treat fat lips.

What Does Contouring Do to Lips?

Contouring the lips creates an illusion of more definition, volume, and plumpness. The makeup technique helps the lips stand out more. And it does so by defining and improving your natural lip features.

Moreover, it can help correct asymmetrical or unbalanced lip shapes. This is why some individuals who got lip fillers and weren’t exactly satisfied with their results also sometimes turn to the magic of lip contouring.

How to Contour Lips

Contouring the lips does magic when done right but can look horrible if not. If you haven’t done it before or are simply looking for more tips to improve your technique, here’s how you can contour your lips for that extra volume and plumpness:

  1. Prep your lips

To make sure that your lips look their best, it’s important to prep them first before anything else.

Dry, flaky, and chapped lips will not look good under lip contouring no matter how great your makeup techniques are. Remember, lips that are hydrated, moisturized, and healthy will look best underneath the magic that is lip contouring.

To get your lips ready, exfoliate with a gentle lip scrub. Gently massage your lips with the scrub for a few minutes before rinsing it off.

If you don’t have a lip scrub, you can opt for a simple DIY solution with just a toothbrush. Simply massage the toothbrush against your lips gently.

Another DIY solution is to use a damp washcloth to gently massage and exfoliate your lips to slough off dead skin cells.

After exfoliating your lips with any of the methods above, apply a nourishing and hydrating lip balm on top.

Now, you have a smooth canvas and your lips are ready to be contoured.

  1. Lay a blank canvas base

You want your lip contour to pop and make your lips stand out. You can do this by laying a blank foundation and base on your lips either with your finger or with a lip brush.

Prime your lips with either a foundation or concealer that’s close to your skin tone. This will allow you to smoothly blend the product on your lips for a much smoother finish.

Laying a blank canvas on your lips before contouring also helps with the staying power of the contour colors on your lips.

  1. Choose your lip liner

The key to the best lip contouring results is to choose a lip liner (or lip pencil) in the right color. A lip liner in a nude shade that closely resembles your natural lip color and not more than one shade darker should be your best choice.

Remember, your lipliner should be sharp yet soft in texture so it can create defined lines yet glide on your lips. If you need to, you can warm it up between your forefinger and thumb. This will give it a smooth gliding finish.

  1. Define the cupid’s bow and center of the bottom lip

Now with your lip liner in hand, you are now ready to contour your lips.

To make your lips really stand out and give them that extra plumpness and volume, you want to focus on your bottom lip and cupid’s bow.

The cupid’s bow is that ‘v’ shape on your top lip. Now you’d want to overline at your cupid’s bow and complete it with an ‘x’ mark starting from the top and diagonally down through the center of your top lip.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be there. This will give volume and definition, creating an illusion of plumper, fuller lips.

Then, you’d want to line and overdraw the center of your bottom lip. This will create a shadow under your lip, creating a more obvious pout.

  1. Overline your natural lip line

After focusing on your bottom lip and cupid’s bow, it’s time for the rest of your lips.

While you can follow your lip’s natural lip line all the way through, overlining your lips can give your lips more boost and volume.

Start by overlining the top and bottom of your lips. Complete the overline by overlining the outer corners of your lips as well.

Remember, don’t stray too much from your natural lip line, especially on the sides and corners. Overlining too much can instead make your lips look wider instead of fuller and plumper.

  1. Blend the overline

Once you’re quite satisfied with your overline, lightly blend the harsh lines on your lips. Harsh lines will make the contour and overlining obvious and you don’t want that. You want fuller, plumper, voluminous lips that still look natural.

You can use a Q-tip or your finger to feather the lines inward. This will create a more seamless transition from the contour and overline to your natural lips.

  1. Fill in with your lipstick of choice

Now you’re ready for filling in with your lips with the lipstick color of your choice. Glide the liquid lipstick wand, applicator, or lipstick against your lips, lightly blending in the contour and overline on your lips.

  1. Highlight and gloss

To give your lips even more pop, apply a thin layer of highlight on the top of your cupid’s bow. This will give your lips more volume and definition every time it catches the light.

You can also apply a layer of your favorite lip gloss if you want more shine and suppleness on your lips.

And voila – enjoy fuller, plumper, more voluminous lips without lip fillers!


No matter what shape of lips you are after, anything is possible with makeup. Just be sure to prep your skin well before contouring, and make sure to clean all the makeup off later. Good hygiene and healthy skin makes makeup application so much easier.

If you are contouring lips to cover up hyperpigmentation, you might want to consider a skin lightening cream specifically made for lips. This article explains what these creams are and how they work.

While we’re on contouring, you should also read How to Contour Cheeks.

Michelle Jackson
Michelle Jackson