Clear Lip Liner & Lip Primer Comparison

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clear lip liner - lip primer

Lip Primer & Clear Lip Liner

Milani and OCC each recently released clear lip liners (or should I call them lip pencils? I never know which to write). I purchased the Milani to try it out, then received the OCC as a press sample. So, I thought I’d do a comparison of those two items plus all the other clear lip liners & lip primers I own. This post is a comparison of the following six items:

– NYX Lip Primer – $6.99 at Ulta
– OCC Anti-Feathered Clear Lip Pencil – $16 at Sephora
– Sally Hansen Plumping Lip Primer (in jar) – around $6; I’ve only seen it at CVS
– Maybelline Clear Lip Pencil – $4.95 at drugstore.com
– E.L.F. Lip Lock Pencil – $3 at eyeslipsface.com
– Milani Clear Anti-Feathering Lip Liner – $4.49 at Milanicosmetics.com

I expect a lip primer / clear lip liner to do two things – prevent feathering & extend the weartime of my lipstick.  All six of the items I tried prevented feathering (as tested on my hand, because lipstick rarely feathers on my lips).  However, in terms of extending the wear of my lipstick, there’s a clear winner, a clear loser, and four items in the middle.

Best for extending weartine: Milani

Milani clear lip liner

The Milani Anti-Feathering lip liner has a soft texture.  It creates a sort of “grippy” surface on the lips for your lipstick or gloss to adhere to.  Although it’s marketed mostly as preventing feathering, it actually did the best job of extending the weartime of my lip products. Do note that if you use too much pressure or sharpen it to too fine of a point, the tip will break off.

I’ve seen the Milani liner at CVS stores and Walgreens stores for around $6, and it’s available on the Milani website for under $5. Recommended!

Worst for extending weartime: ELF

ELF lip lock pencil

The E.L.F. lip lock pencil is only $3, but I still don’t think it’s worth it – it does nothing to extend the wear time of my lip products. On the positive side, it does prevent feathering and I like the packaging – it’s much easier to cover my lips with this size pencil than a slim pencil, plus it doesn’t need to be sharpened.

When I posted about this previously, a couple people commented that this product is meant to prevent feathering (which it does), rather than extend wear. I think the description on ELF’s website implies that it does both; but the intent really doesn’t matter. In the end, if you’re looking for a cheap anti-feathering pencil this is great; if you want something that extends wear, it’s not.

Average: OCC, Maybelline, NYX, Sally Hansen

clear lip liner - lip primer-2

I found the Maybelline & OCC pencils (the nearest two in the photo above) to be extremely similar – both are slightly hard, waxy pencils. Both prevent feathering and help lipstick last longer, but both are a bit difficult to use due to the thinness & texture of the pencil.

The NYX lip primer (farthest away in above photo) is a chubby pencil, so it’s easy to use. It looks light pink in the photo, but applies almost-clear; I can’t see it swatched on my skin, and it mutes the natural color of my lips just a little. This is a solid choice, just not my favorite.

sally hansen plumping lip primer

The Sally Hansen plumping lip primer (review) might actually be my favorite of all of these products.  The Milani does do a little bit of a better job at gripping the lip product, but the Sally Hansen makes up for it in being easy to apply.  You can see that it’s in a jar in the first photo in this post, and that’s because it broke off a while back – not ideal, but it’s still easier to use than a skinny pencil. Do note that the “plumping” aspect shows up as a minty tingle, so this is not a good choice for those with sensitive lips.

Overall, I’d recommend the Milani, the Sally Hansen (as long as you don’t have sensitive lips), and the NYX.  The ELF lip lock is also a good choice if you only care about preventing feathering, not about weartime.  And I’d skip the Maybelline and OCC – they work, but the others are all easier to use.

Do you use any type of lip primer? I’d love to hear what works for you!

*I recieved the OCC pencil courtesy of the brand and The Makeup Show. I purchased all other products featured in this post. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

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  • spooki

    I have the Maybelline one and it’s currently buried somewhere in a drawer, I wasn’t impressed with it at all. It’s the only one on the list that I’ve tried.

  • Arathael

    I don’t use a lip primer as I tend to just wear balms, but this was an interesting read…I don’t even know there were lip primers, but there are ones for face and eyelid, so of course…. 🙂

  • I use the Sally Hansen one you have and really like it! Great post

  • i have the make up for ever version of this but i barely use it. i bought it as a sort of ‘just in case’ product for when i wear darker lips but…i almost never wear dark lipstick so it just sort of sits there. i guess i should have just bought the milani one instead since its probably much cheaper (but harder to get a hold of here in canada)

  • crango

    So glad you posted this! I’ve been using Urban Decay’s clear lip pencil which does wonders for keeping my lipstick on through long work hours. The $19 price tag, however, hurts quite a bit, especially since I wear lipstick almost every day. I’ve been looking into a cheaper alternative and am totally with you on ELF’s primer being total crap. Definitely going to have to give the Milani one a try!

  • Gaelle

    I have one from Lipstick Queen whch is pretty good but very expensive. If only we got Milani here!

  • Stephanie Alipio

    I use the Mary Kay Lip Liner in Clear and it’s awesome! But I definitely will look into the Milani one since Milani products always impress me.

  • Lumi

    Thanks for posting this. I don’t own any type of lip primers yet, but sometimes I need help against feathering. I’m interested in trying the Milani one. ^^