If there’s one term that has defined beauty aspirations of late, it’s the so-called “clean-girl” aesthetic. A quick scroll through TikTok reveals that this effortless-looking “no-makeup makeup look” is most commonly characterized by dewy skin, sun-blushed complexions, barely-there eye makeup and bushy brows in their most lawless form.
Kelli Anne Sewell, a celebrity makeup artist and content creator based in New York City, has popularized a new step in the clean-girl routine: a pout-enhancing trick that she’s dubbed “gym lips.”
“Gym lips [were] just a lip combination I started to wear when I was wearing basically no makeup,” Sewell told HuffPost. “I’d put on my Glowscreen and brush up my brows for the gym. I like the way my lips look when they’re over-lined, but I was finding that when I over-lined them with the lip liners that I would use for a full face of makeup, my lips would look totally overdone and there was this super stark contrast to my... no-makeup-look.”
Her solution was using a toned-down liner the exact shade of her lips to slightly over-line her natural mouth contours, then adding a glossy, nourishing lip-treatment over the lips to help blend everything together. The result, according to her was, “fuller, plump lips, perfect for anytime you want to look like you’re not wearing makeup, but still want to feel elevated.”
Sewell acknowledged that she’s not reinventing the wheel when it comes to minimalist makeup. But if you want to try out this look for yourself, she stressed the importance of using products that work best for you, and most specifically, finding that essential lip liner that mimics your natural lip color as closely as possible.
“I think this is why this trend is happening, because it’s not like you have to get a specific lip product that’s [unavailable] everywhere because TikTok sold it out,” she said.
Keep reading for some of Sewell’s favorite products that she uses to get “gym lips,” like a creamy long-lasting lip liner from the drug store and a buttery balm that plumps and relieves parched lips.
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1. A creamy and long-lasting lip liner at an affordable price
Nyx Cosmetics’ long-wearing lip liner is Sewell’s favorite drugstore option for achieving gym lips. Aside from the unbeatable price, the color selection for this buttery-textured liner is a draw, with shade options that range from beiges and pale pinks to sandy buffs in order to perfectly match a wide range of natural lip colors. The creamy formula also glides on easily, resists bleeding or fading and has a satin finish.
2. A silky conditioning balm that’s rich in shea and seed butters
For a non-greasy and deeply nourishing dose of hydration, Sewell grabs Summer Fridays’ Lip Butter balm, which contains a blend of shea and Murumuru seed butters that naturally plump and relieve parched, cracked lips. The formula utilizes a variety of vegan waxes that give lips the look of healthy shine, without any of the uncomfortable sticky feeling that you might get with a gloss. It comes in two sheer shades and has a slight vanilla scent.
3. A blendable and water-resistant lip definer pencil
“Some of my favorite [lip liner] splurges are from Kevyn Aucoin,” Sewell said. This lip-defining pencil was actually designed to match the color of natural lips in six neutral shades. The long-wearing and water-resistant liner has a creamy texture and high color pay-off and comes with a dual-ended brush to help blend the product into your lips. Plus, it comes with a separate pencil sharpener so you’ll never be stuck with a dull tip.
4. A soothing and non-sticky jelly lip mask that visibly plumps lips
Sewell told HuffPost that she likes the nourishing and hydrating formula of this lip mask by Tatcha, which has a blend of both Japanese peach extract and olive-derived squalane to help restore and soften lips. The jelly-like formula is soothing and non-sticky and also contains Japanese camellia oil, which is rich in vitamins and omegas to help seal in moisture and improve the health of the skin.
5. A slightly tinted shea butter-infused glossy balm for the lips
If you want a slightly tinted balm with a high-shine finish to pair with your nude liner, Sewell suggests Laneige’s Lip Glowy Balm, a daytime version of the brand’s fan-favorite lip sleeping mask. This juicy lip treatment contains murumuru and shea butters that provide powerful hydration and lock in moisture longer. It’s available in four different hues and scents including gummy bear, berry and peach.
6. A versatile drugstore lip treatment that also happens to be a cult favorite