How to Play With Different Lip Shapes à la Kevyn Aucoin


In his 1997 book Making Faces, Kevyn Aucoin tells the tale of his first childhood encounter with lipstick: “I remember climbing onto our bathroom counter and opening the medicine chest in search of my mom’s orange lipstick. Since smells can be deceiving (her tube had a distinct floral scent), I naturally decided to have a bite...” Needless to say, it didn’t go so well. But that was just one of many early, formative experiences that helped shaped Kevyn’s love of makeup—and in particular, lipstick.

As an artist, he didn’t see limitations within a client or model’s natural-born features—lips included. “Following your natural lip shape is only one option. Remember, all of your facial features become malleable with makeup,” he explains. And he’s right! There’s so much you can do with a face if you think outside the box. With Kevyn’s classic lesson in creative lip shapes (check it out here) as inspiration, we did simple makeup on our model Jillian, and changed only the lips between shots.

Just how much effect does altering the lips have on changing the feel of a look? See for yourself below, and then scroll down to read a few of our favorite lip tips and tricks of Kevyn’s.

The Makeup

The lips

The only thing we changed from photo to photo was Jillian’s lip shape and color. For all lip looks, we used Kevyn Aucoin The Flesh Tone Lip Pencil ($25 each) in the shades listed below.

The rest

All products from Kevyn AucoinThe Sensual Skin Tinted Balm in SB01, The Sensual Skin Enhancer in SX03, and The Sensual Skin Powder Foundation in PF03; on eyes, The Eye Pencil Primatif in Basic Black, The Essential Eyeshadow Set Palette 1, and The Curling Mascara; on brows, The Precision Brow Pencil in Brunette.

The Looks

Natural Lip

A basic, well-rounded and symmetrically shaped mouth. There’s no overdrawing in this one; all we did was even out a slightly less-than-symmetrical cupid’s bow.
shade: Medium | shop it

“Bonnie Parker”

A slightly more angular take on the natural lip shape, and late ’60s à la Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde.
shade: Minimal | shop it


Full and voluptuous, here you fill in the cupid’s bow so that there’s no peak or dip in the top lip, and extend the top lip outside the natural lip line for a fuller look. Very Naomi Campbell and Kate Hepburn.

shade: Hyacinth | shop it

The Smear

For this ’40s-inspired, Joan Crawford–esque look, the cupid’s bow is stretched out wide into a soft, curved shape, so that the lips take on an almost rectangular quality.

shade: Hyacinth | shop it

Glamour Girl

Marilyn and the ’50s, all the way, and modeled after the way the screen siren would overdraw her top lip to heighten its seductiveness. Go just outside the natural lip line and also extend slightly, to really get the fuller, rounder shape.

shade: Cerise | shop it


The Bee-Stung takes its name from the look of a real sting welt, and its very early ’20s. You form a heart-like shape in the center of the lips, leaving the corners of the mouth bare for a more defined pucker effect.

shade: Cerise | shop it

Cupid’s Bow

At once exaggerated and feminine, with edges that go both inside and outside of the natural lip lines. To get the look, really play up the points at the corners, winging them out as pictured.

shade: Bloodroses | shop it

Kevyn’s best lip tips

• Putting powder over the top of the first coat of lipstick, then reapplying will help it to last longer.

• Line the lips with a neutral lip pencil, even if the lip color over that is a bright shade. This way the finished mouth looks more natural and if the color fades or is “chewed” off, the layer underneath is not a bright orange or red. (Our picks: Kevyn Aucoin The Flesh Tone Lip Pencil in Medium or Minimal.)