This TikTok Highlighter Trick Is the Secret to Full Lips

Kiss your lip liner goodbye.

Rosie HW with full lips


Lip liner, plumping gloss, Juvederm… there are so many ways to make your lips look fuller, from quick fixes to semi-permanent injections. You can overdraw your lip lines or plunge a needle full of filler into your mouth, all in pursuit of poutier lips. But could the secret to gorgeous, fuller-looking lips be hiding in your makeup bag? A new viral TikTok hack seems to think so.

Ahead, everything you need to know about the highlighter-as-lip-liner method sweeping TikTok.

The Trend

Like many TikTok hacks, the viral highlighter-as-liner method takes items you already have chilling in your beauty collection—in this case, lip liner, highlighter and gloss—and turns them into multitaskers. It’s a quick and easy trick that takes just a few seconds and can make a big impact on your final look.

Dabbing highlighter atop the cupid’s bow is a time-honored beauty trick that has been used for decades to pump up the volume for photoshoots and selfies alike, but what if you put it on your lips instead of above them? Highlighter reflects light, creating the illusion of fuller lips. That’s the idea behind this simple makeup method; after following the three easy steps, you’re basically wearing a Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb or Maybelline Lifter Gloss, but with stuff you already have.

The Hype

One of the first to take the highlighter lip liner method to TikTok was user @angelaluvspho, who showed off her technique in a quick video that sparked a massive trend. In Angela’s video, she uses a pointed lip brush to apply just a bit of pearly highlighter tracing her cupid’s bow and lower lip, then adds a layer of plumping gloss for super full lips. The technique is easy to do but still shows a significant change, and TikTokers took notice.

The hack caught on fast, with users grabbing their lip brushes and powder highlighters to give it a test run. Even Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty fame got in on the action with a recreation of her own, as did James Charles. You know a trend has staying power if you get the big names involved.

Some users took the hack one step further and applied a layer of highlighter across their lower lip, then coated it with gloss for a full-on shimmer effect a la the beloved Gloss Bombs. No matter which method you choose, you’re bound to see a subtle “pop” in your lip fullness and volume thanks to the light-reflecting powers of your chosen highlighter in combination with the shiny gloss.

My Review

I have pretty thin lips; back in the day, I got injections and loved them, but it’s been years since a syringe of Juvederm touched my mouth. As such, I’m always looking for ways to pump up the volume on my pout  

For my first attempt, I lined my lips with Rare Beauty’s Kind Words Matte Lip Liner ($15) in Lively, a light rose pink, then grabbed a lip brush and painted a shimmery golden beige powder highlighter around my cupid’s bow and on my lower lip lines. Once I was satisfied with the sparkle, I applied a touch of translucent pink gloss. My lips definitely did look fuller, thanks to the light-reflecting capabilities of the radiant highlighter plus gloss, but it wasn’t anything I hadn’t already experienced via a shimmery gloss.

Kara wears highlighter as lipliner

Kara Nesvig

Try number two was a darker take on the trend, using the Rare liner in Bold, a deep berry rose. I lightly lined my cupid’s bow and lower lip line, drew on the highlighter in the same spots, then added a subtle coating of Rare’s Stay Vulnerable Glossy Lip Balm ($18) in Nearly Neutral, a brownish-pink. I liked the darker look, but wanted more shimmer, so I took a cue from a few TikTok videos and added a dab of cream highlighter smack in the middle of my lower lip. (My pick: Rose Inc. Solar Radiance Hydrating Cream Highlighter in Pearl, $30.) This really upped the pout factor and made my lips look lush and lovely. 

While it’s not the most life-changing technique in the world, the highlighter-liner trick is great to use in a pinch or when you really want your lips to pop in a photo—or a TikTok video, no less.

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