Which Of The 9 Lip Shapes Do You Have? Plus, How To Enhance Each With Makeup
Everyone's lips are unique: Each set of lips has a pattern of grooves and wrinkles that are entirely your own—as well as lip shapes and sizes. Everyone's particular shape is stunning in its own way, and there's no one form that's more desirable than another—it's simply what makes you you. And while there are a few common characteristics experts have identified over the years (nine, to be exact), people often have a blend of two or three shapes; you can, for example, have a set of full, round lips or a thin, heart-shaped pout (in the same way that people often have multiple curl patterns—not just one). We emphasize: Everyone's lips are unique!
So before scouring this lip shapes guide, keep in mind it's less about changing your distinct form and more about determining which shape you have. From there, you can learn common makeup artist tips to accentuate each shape with products (or if you're looking for general lip care tips, meander on over here).
Enough chat—find nine of the common lip shapes below:
This lip shape is exactly how it sounds: Your upper lip is a bit fuller than the bottom. You can simply define that shape with liner (we love leaning into your natural shape), or if you're looking to balance it out, you can use foundation or concealer to soften that top lip line. "Just like you would slightly overline a bottom lip to make that bigger, you could do the opposite on the top lip," says Savannah St. Jean, makeup artist and owner of Savannah Rae Beauty.
On the flip side, you have bottom-heavy lips, where your bottom lip is fuller than the top. If you want to sculpt this shape, it's a similar process: "Concealer or foundation is going to be your friend in defining some of those areas around the mouth," says celebrity makeup artist A.J. Crimson. "If you want to minimize the lower lip after you've accentuated the top lip, take that concealer and mute out areas you don't want to see and use liner to create the lip you want." It is makeup, after all—you have the freedom to conceal or enhance to your heart's content.
If your top and bottom lips are the same width all the way around, you likely have round lips. These oftentimes have a natural poutiness to them, with a very soft cupid's bow, so Crimson says a touch of gloss on the center of the lip can really accentuate plushness.
If you want to elongate your lips, you can manipulate the look with liner—just don't go too overboard, here. Slightly overline the outer corners of the lips to widen the area, but don't draw too far off your natural lip line. As St. Jean notes, "Work with what you have. When you start trying to completely recreate what you look like, that's when things get hairy." In general, "work with what you have" is a good rule of thumb.
Heart-shaped lips typically have a pronounced cupid's bow up top, with a sharper bottom lip. Now, the exact definition might vary from person to person (some may have a stark point at the bottom; others may have a softer edge), but the key here is that V-shaped cupid's bow.
To enhance the shape, Crimson suggests popping some highlighter right on the cupid's bow—a tip that works for all lip shapes, actually, but "brings more attention to the heart." Or, if you're hoping to blur out any sharp edges, he says you can smudge out your lip liner and soften those angles.
As the name suggests, bow-shaped lips have a pronounced cupid's bow (get the reference?), although the bottom lip may not come to a defined point at the bottom, like a heart. Nonetheless, you can use those same tricks as heart-shaped lips: Either highlight the center of the cupid's bow or soften the V by taking your lip color and smudging it above the bow.
Wide lips are typically longer than they are full, spanning across with an elongated smile. If you're looking to add some poutiness to wide lips, Crimson says all you need to do is take some sort of highlight (a lighter shade of lipstick, gloss, or what have you) and dab a little in the center of your lips. "It's going to bring more of the attention there," he says. "Anytime you add something reflective to the lip, it's going to add more of that pop and poutiness."
You may have thinner lips naturally, or you may find your pout starting to deflate with age (lips lose volume over time). To accentuate slim lips, consider lip liner your best friend. You can always slightly overline the lips to make them appear fuller—if that's your jam—just make sure not to extend the line too far. The liner should still connect with your natural lip line, just hanging ever so slightly above. Then, as mentioned, a dab of highlight at the center can create the illusion of volume.
"Full lips" has a different definition for everyone, but it technically refers to lips that are evenly plump on both the top and bottom. A simple pop of gloss on the center can accentuate a pillowy pout, and if you're looking for more definition, you can always tap highlighter on the cupid's bow (again, this enhances the V-shape) and use a bit of liner to sharpen the corners.
Downturned lips tend to have a slight dip at the corners. This usually happens when the lower lip is a bit smaller than the top: "The corners don't totally meet, and that's what makes it look downturned," says St. Jean. That being said, the trick here is to fill in those corners—take your lip color outward and upward, says St. Jean. "Use a lip liner that's a little bit darker than your lip color," she adds, which creates shadow and more shape to your bottom lip.
Lips come in all shapes and sizes—so many more than these mere nine we've listed above. That said, you may identify with one of these shapes, or you may have a hybrid of two or three—that's OK! With makeup, it's about testing what works for you and makes you happy, anyway, and half of the fun comes from experimenting with different looks. Just remember: It's not about carving an entirely new lip shape; it's about accentuating the gorgeous outline you already have.
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Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.