How To Use Lip Liner To Downplay Your Cupid's Bow

How do you like your makeup? Do you prefer a sharp, extended wing for your eyes or a simple black liner on your lower lash line? Would you rather have a matte skin finish or a dewy one? And would you define your cupid's bow — or lessen the attention it gets? While many makeup enthusiasts love accentuating their cupid's bow to Rihanna-esque levels, some prefer to downplay the area. If you're one of the latter, there are a few methods to achieve that. But first, what is your cupid's bow, and what makeup products do you need to achieve a softer one?


As the name implies, your cupid's bow is the bow-like dip that lies on the middle of your upper lip. The area marks the distinction between your philtrum and your upper lip, making it a defining area for any makeup looks you have in mind. While it's common to accentuate the area with some concealer and lip liner, downplaying and softening the curve of your cupid's bow is a technique that's just as easy as defining it.

What products/tools will you need to downplay your cupid's bow?

While there are more permanent ways of downplaying your cupid's bow (hello, lip filler injections), makeup offers a cheaper and more comfortable way to achieve the effect. You only need some primer, a foundation in your shade, a soft makeup sponge to blend it in, a lip liner combination you love, and a small angled brush to improve the illusion.


Since you'll be working on creating the look of a softer cupid's bow, the illusion must appear realistic. Using some foundation in your skin tone with a makeup sponge helps blur the line between your actual cupid's bow, while the primer ensures your foundation stays in place, even with upper lip sweat. If you're uncomfortable with foundation, concealer or a tinted moisturizer with enough coverage will do, as long as they are in your actual shade. And for the small angled brush, you'll need this to softly blur out your lip liner, thus making your new and softened cupid's bow look even more realistic.

Before you downplay your cupid's bow

Creating softer peaks on your cupid's bow for a rounder upper lip is a pretty easy technique, but it can quickly go wrong if you don't do the right prep. Applying foundation to your upper lip is essential in diminishing how pronounced your cupid's bow is. Still, with dead skin cells, upper lip sweat, and dry, flaky lips, the foundation can quickly break apart on your upper lip, leading to cracking and creasing. 


To avoid this, your lips should be exfoliated and hydrated before using your complexion and lip products. You can exfoliate with a sugar scrub or a lip mask and hydrate them with a moisturizing lip balm. Once this is done, you're ready to soften the dip.

Apply foundation to the outline of your lips

Like concealer, foundation is a complexion product with several less popular uses. You can use it to even out your base, to act as a substitute for concealer, and, in this case, to downplay your cupid's bow. To soften the dip of your cupid's bow, you'll need to prime your lips and philtrum using a small amount of face primer and your fingertips or a small brush. Then, with a small angled brush or your index finger, blend some of the foundation on the outline of your lips, focusing on your philtrum and cupid's bow. 


If you have a makeup sponge with some leftover foundation from doing your base, you can skip the brush and dab the sponge around your upper lip for a more even blend. Doing this extends your base and covers up part of your lips, making the bow seem smaller and less defined. As we said earlier, ensuring your lips are hydrated before applying foundation around them is essential so no cracking or creasing occurs in the area.

Line above your cupid's bow with a lip liner

Like foundation, lip liner is also multifunctional, and while it promises a sharper cupid's bow, you can also use it to downplay the area instead. For a softer cupid's bow, it's best to skip the traditional lining right on the area and instead line above it. Using the two peaks of the bow as a guide, draw a straight or slightly inwardly curved line between them, creating a new outline instead of your regular cupid's bow. This line will reduce the definition of the area and give you a much rounder upper lip. After outlining above the dip and right on your philtrum, fill in the area and outline the rest of your lip with more lip liner.


Now, this step is optional, but if you desire a more realistic blend, slightly blur out the liner outline above your cupid's bow with a small angled brush or with light finger taps. Like the above-bow step, blurring out the liner will also make the definition of the area harder to notice. However, avoid overdoing this so the lip liner does not smudge or move around too much.

Finish the look with your preferred lip product

Now that you've successfully downplayed your cupid's bow and achieved a rounder upper lip, it's time to finish up the show with your preferred lip product. This could be anything from a pigmented gloss to a high-shine liquid lipstick. Whatever it is, it's best to apply them using your new softened outline as a guide. 


This means you might also have to apply some product on the skin between your nose and your cupid's bow. We recommend applying these products inside the outline and using a small brush to blend them until they meet the outline. When you're done applying, blot the excess product with tissue paper for a longer-lasting effect. And voilà, you have a softened cupid's bow and luscious lips.