17 best lip liners for a fuller, more defined pout without feathering

From luxury labels to bargain buys, we've tested the best lip liners for neat, smudge-proof application

Collage of three of the best lip liners from Kylie Cosmetics, Charlotte Tilbury and UOMA Beauty
(Image credit: Future/Brand)

The best lip liners will do two things well: prevent lipstick from bleeding and define the natural shape of your pout. And depending on how soft and blendable the formula is, lip liner can even replace lipstick on those days when you just want a wash of color. 

Add one to your makeup bag and your go-to long-lasting lipstick will become even more effortless – and last even longer. Why? because the best lip liners are to lipstick what primers are to the best foundations. They act as a base that boosts pigment and longevity, preventing your lip color from bleeding, fading, and feathering. The right lip liner also means your lippie won't crease or settle into lines, and if you like, it'll create the illusion of a fuller pout too. 

“To create a fuller lip shape, choose a shade in the same family as your lipstick,” says Warren Dowdall (opens in new tab), Bobbi Brown Senior Pro Artist, “or, if you’re after something soft, find a lip pencil that’s close to your natural lip color.” From the iconic Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Liner to brilliant drug store buys, we round up the best lip liners in the business, tried and tested by us. 

How W&H tested the best lip liners 

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

A selection of lip liners we tested for this guide

A selection of lip liners we tested for this guide

(Image credit: Emma Stoddart)

We tested dozens of products for this best lip liner guide, varying the price point to include budget buys as well as more luxurious offerings. We also tested a mix of applicators from classic pencil-form liners to more modern twist-up options. To judge each product fairly, we assessed them on ease of application, paying close attention to how well the formulas glide onto lips. We also wore each one on our lips for at least a day, to see how well it lasted and if the liner prevented our lipstick from feathering. 

The best lip liners, as chosen by our beauty team

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner

(Image credit: Charlotte Tilbury)
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1. Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner

Best overall lip liner

Specifications

RRP: $22/£17
Shades: 17
Texture: Creamy
Extras: 100% vegan

Reasons to buy

+
Glide-on formula
+
Sleek and durable gold exterior
+
Not drying
+
Vast shade palette
+
Vegan

Reasons to avoid

-
Product runs out quickly

Charlotte Tilbury's eponymous makeup line has attained cult status. As has the best-seller Lip Cheat Liner, a luxurious formula that we found easy to layer and maneuver with its narrow but creamy tip. The liner's texture is akin to plush silk that's dense yet breathable – ideal, as it won't dehydrate lips. 

Its formula is also waterproof and on testing, stayed put for up to eight hours, much like Tilbury's best mascara, Pillow Talk Push-Up Lashes. Trust us, you don't need to worry about smudging, product transfer, or constant reapplication with this liner. Without question, this will survive anything – humidity, heat waves, or just a night on the hibiscus margaritas. 

Above all, Tilbury understands the power of a versatile neutral and, as such, offers an expansive color range of 17 hues. We love the rosy nudes and suedes but if deeper shares are more your thing, there are plenty of warm reds and plums too. Basically, Lip Cheat has it all- a buildable and long-lasting color payoff for every skin tone. We daresay it could actually replace our favorite lipstick or stain for good.

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Slim Lip Pencil

(Image credit: NYX Cosmetics)
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2. NYX Professional Makeup Slim Lip Pencil

Best budget lip liner

Specifications

RRP: $4/£3.50
Shades: 39
Texture: Creamy
Extras: Coconut oil

Reasons to buy

+
Hydrating
+
Tiny tip
+
No product transfer
+
Cruelty-free, PETA certified

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as long-lasting

NYX Slim Lip Pencil boasts a slender profile, along with a huge number of industry awards under its belt. It also comes in an unusually wide spectrum of shades – with classic reds and fuchsias as well as non-traditional options like orange and auburn. All this for the same price as your daily coffee? We can't think of many better spends.

Economics aside, the pencil features a buttery-soft formula that glides on easily and stays put. We found that it resists bleeding well, which happens when lipstick creeps its way outside of the natural lip line. It also has a fine tip that's super easy to sharpen, making it easy to accentuate the appearance of your pout too. We appreciate the addition of hydrating coconut oil to condition lips, intensify color and increase the lifespan of your liner. Tick, tick, tick!

Dior Lip Contour

(Image credit: Dior)
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3. Dior Lip Contour

Best luxury lip liner

Specifications

RRP: $31/£22
Shades: 20
Texture: Creamy
Extras: Shea butter, peony, pomegranate flower extracts

Reasons to buy

+
Long-wearing formula
+
Features angled-bristle brush
+
Comfortable
+
Great shade range

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey

Available in 20 shades, Dior's luxury lip liner imparts saturated color and longer-lasting coverage compared to its competition. While most brands promise six hours of staying power, Dior Lip Contour provides a prolonged eight hours of wear. We tested the claims and can confirm you'll enjoy even, rich pigment all day long that won't feather or settle into fine lines. Impressive, right?

Thanks to shea butter, peony, and pomegranate flower extracts, Dior Lip Contour has a velvety and supple texture. Shea butter conditions and protects lips from the elements, while peony and pomegranate flower extracts moisturize and hydrate. In addition to its ideal fine tip, the liner features an angled-bristle brush, which cleans up color outside of lip lines and guarantees precise application. This brush is a great feature that gives you that professional quality finish. 

KVD Everlasting Lip Liner

(Image credit: KVD)
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4. KVD Everlasting Lip Liner

Best long-wearing lip liner

Specifications

RRP: $19/£14.50
Shades: 14
Texture: Matte
Extras: Vegan

Reasons to buy

+
Unique shades
+
Feels weightless
+
Great staying power
+
Cruelty-free
+
Vegan

Reasons to avoid

-
Applicator could be more durable

We can safely say that this lip liner from KVD lives up to its title (almost). The formula is water-resistant and lightweight, delivering a budge-proof finish in seconds. Though the brand promises 24 hours of coverage without reapplication, we'd argue this claim is overinflated based on our tests. We found that the formula stayed put for up to nine hours. Regardless, this duration is considerably longer than most, which will certainly get you through the throes of your day-to-day routine. Who needs to wear a lipliner for 24 hours straight, anyway?

We adore its ultra-thin tip that outlines beautifully and allows you to reshape your natural lip contour if so desired. Yes, it's matte, and we know many matte-based products are annoyingly dense and dehydrating, but luckily, this one is anything but – it lends lips a velvety soft finish. With that said, if you prefer a nourished base, we recommend applying your best lip balm first and letting it absorb fully before applying this lip liner. Hydrated lips are also less likely to crack and dry over the course of the day. 

Nars Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil

(Image credit: NARS)
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5. NARS Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil

Best multi-tasking lip liner

Specifications

RRP: $27/‎£22
Shades: 29
Texture: Matte
Extras: Vitamin E

Reasons to buy

+
Emollient-based formula
+
Versatile
+
Vast shade range
+
Applies smoothly

Reasons to avoid

-
Thick applicator may hinder precise application

NARS Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil has the silhouette of a retro crayon, and while this design is cute, its formula is the real champion. The lipstick-pencil hybrid is matte without looking matte – i.e. it's not at all patchy or flaky, even after long-term wear. We found the texture impressively creamy, courtesy of hardworking vitamin E and emollients. This product acts as a hydrating, tinted base that sits nicely under stains or vinyl-shine lip products if you prefer glossy lips

What's more, it delivers the impact and color payoff you'd normally see in rich lipstick. The wide tip reinforces this and allowed us to add extra pigment to specific areas of the lips. As for shades, NARS sticks to a palette of versatile nudes and pinks which we found range makes for the perfect lipstick wardrobe, with enough variety to mix, match, and experiment. The liner also comes in two handy sizes: standard and mini (which is ideal for travel). 

M.A.C. Cosmetics Lip Pencil in Oak

(Image credit: MAC Cosmetics)
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6. M.A.C. Cosmetics Lip Pencil in Oak

Best lip liner for fair skin

Specifications

RRP: $19/£15.50
Shades: 28
Texture: Creamy
Extras: Mica

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth texture
+
Applies quickly
+
Complements a variety of lipstick shades
+
Convenient container included
+
Long-lasting formula

Reasons to avoid

-
May feel a little drying

MAC’s top-rated lip pencil is loaded with pigment to deliver impressive color payoff in one swipe. There’s an extensive array of shades to choose from, varying from nudes, browns, and soft pinks to bold and bright hues. Fan-favourite shade Oak is one of our personal go-to picks that’s especially flattering for fair skin. The color is a muted brown that’s perfect for everyday wear as well as party makeup looks. 

Shades aside, we found that this lip liner does not budge. The impressive staying power and the pigment-packed formula stay put for hours on end (trust us). We love wearing it alone, scribbled all over lips, as well as under lip gloss for going out glam. It can also be teamed with deep nude lipstick for a sophisticated finish. A great all-rounder, this is one of the best lip liners we’ve tried. 

Kylie Cosmetics Lip Liner

(Image credit: Kylie Cosmetics)

7. Kylie Cosmetics Give Me A Kiss Lip Liner

Best lip liner for olive-medium skin

Specifications

RRP: $14/£10
Shades: 9
Texture: Matte
Extras: Vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free,

Reasons to buy

+
Glide-on formula
+
Rich color
+
Boosts pigment of a lipstick
+
Comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited shade range

If you’re looking for a creamy, easy-to-blend formula, look no further. This Give Me A Kiss Lip Liner from Kylie Cosmetics glides on effortlessly for a more defined, plumper-looking pout. For the best results, we recommend working from the outer corners inward using short strokes. This pick works well as a lipstick, blended all over, or underneath Kylie’s Matte Liquid Lipstick that delivers a stamped-on, velvety soft lip. 

Out of all the lip liners we tested for this guide, we found that this was the most comfortable liner for all-day and night wear. It’s lightweight yet it stays put – and by midday, we almost forgot we were wearing lip liner. Of course, one look in the mirror and you’ll be reminded just how good this product is. It defines lips without smudging, feathering, or flaking. Souffle is the perfect warm neutral for tan and olive skin tones. 

Pat McGrath Permagel Ultra Lip Pencil in the shade Ground Control

(Image credit: Pat McGrath)
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8. Pat McGrath Permagel Ultra Lip Pencil in the shade Ground Control

Best lip liner for dark skin

Specifications

RRP: $28/£25
Shades: 25
Texture: Matte and pearl
Extra: Mica

Reasons to buy

+
Long-wearing
+
Wide spectrum of colors
+
Soft texture
+
Comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not true to color

Love a bold lip look? Say hello to Pat McGrath’s Permagel Ultra Lip Pencil. The water-resistant formula stays put in all weather conditions and will not budge, seriously. It boasts a smooth, satin-like texture which makes application a total doddle. And its main selling point is something called permagel technology which is exclusive to the brand. Essentially, this tech prevents the lip liner from feathering, transferring, or becoming dry ( and after testing this, we can attest to all three claims).  

Out of the 25 versatile shades to choose from, we highly recommend shade Ground Control for darker complexions. The rich chocolate brown is super flattering and can be dialed up for evening wear when paired with a smoky eyeshadow look. It's so plumping and natural-looking, with clever shading you could fool onlookers into thinking you've had lip tweakments with this creamy, blendable pick. 

Patrick Ta Monochrome Moment - Precision Lip Crayon

(Image credit: Patrick Ta)
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9. Patrick Ta Monochrome Moment Precision Lip Crayon

Best universal nude lip liner

Specifications

RRP: $26/£22
Shades: 4
Texture: Matte and creamy
Extras: Emollient blend, film formers

Reasons to buy

+
Vegan
+
Weightless feel
+
Long-wearing
+
Glide-on formula
+
Paraben- and sulfate-free

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited shade range
-
Sells out quickly

As we all know, there's more than one nude. In fact, there are hundreds. But then again, there's also Patrick Ta's Monochrome Moment Precision Lip Crayon, which brings a fresh perspective. Available in four neutral-to-you hues across dusty browns and pinks, this lip crayon compliments all skin shades – without looking washed-out on darker complexions or lurid against lighter skin. 

It's a creamy-matte hybrid, meaning the texture is buttery with a hint of sheen and glides on easily. However, we found that it's not overly oily or waxy, an attribute that lends it greater staying power and fewer touch-ups throughout the day. The formula is blended with emollients and film formers. In cosmetic products, film formers help smooth and plump. With this lip liner specifically, they set the color in place and create a lightweight feel.

Smashbox Be Legendary Line & Prime Pencil

(Image credit: Smashbox)
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10. Smashbox Be Legendary Line & Prime Pencil

Best lip liner against feathering

Specifications

RRP: $19/£16
Shades: 10
Texture: Matte
Extras: Primer Oil Complex

Reasons to buy

+
Cruelty-free
+
Paraben-, sulfate-, and phthalate-free
+
Easy to apply and blend
+
Buildable color
+
Great base

Reasons to avoid

-
Packaging a little tricky

The Be Legendary Line & Prime Pencil formulation starkly deviates from many of the best lip liner's glossy and waxy textures – two formula types that often fade and smear after a few sips. This is due to the brand's signature primer oil complex, a compound that magnifies its staying power and soft, non-chapped feel.

Additionally, the liner includes a fine tip for defining and reshaping lips to your liking. This design promises pinpointed and leveled application, which also prevents feathering. Still, it's wide enough to cover enough surface area, making it a great lipstick substitute if required. A factor to consider is its packaging. We found that it was initially tricky to figure out, but once you get the knack you'll find a twistable end but also a tip that will need to be sharpened with continued use.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil

(Image credit: Urban Decay)
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11. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil

Best waterproof lip liner

Specifications

RRP: $22/£16
Shades: 19
Texture: Creamy
Extras: Vitamin E, jojoba oil, cottonseed oil

Reasons to buy

+
Cruelty-free
+
Rich pigment
+
Holds color in place
+
Doesn't run, fade, or creep outside lip lines
+
Glide-on formula

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult to remove

Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil is stubborn – a quality that's not so great in relationships, but appreciated in makeup, especially in lip liner. When applied, its waterproof formula will not move. As a result, you'll enjoy fewer smears, better definition, and cleaner lines. 

Obviously, the budge-proof formula isn't its only redeeming attribute. We love that this lip pencil has a silky texture and many vivid colors to choose from, spanning deep reds and beige nudes. Based on our tests, it won't dry out or look cakey over time, which is largely due to a moisturizing trio of vitamin E, jojoba oil, and cottonseed oil. This threesome quickly soaks into lips, making them soft and supple. The downside? It can be tricky to wipe off. Thankfully, there are quick solutions that get the job done – like Vaseline, the best micellar waters, and baby oil.

Bobbi Brown Lip Pencil

(Image credit: Bobbi Brown)

12. Bobbi Brown Lip Pencil

Best cult classic lip liner

Specifications

RRP: $28/£21.50
Shades: 10
Texture: Velvet matte

Reasons to buy

+
Reduces feathering
+
Velvet matte finish
+
Comes with sharpener 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as creamy as other formulas

Not exactly new, Bobbi Brown’s iconic Lip Pencil has been a mainstay in our makeup routine for years. A cult classic, this no-nonsense product gets the job done (and does it well). It’s a classic pencil-form liner that comes with a professional sharpener so you can always ensure that the tip stays on point. We find that the sharper the point, the more precise the line. But if you’re after a softly diffused finish, wear it down to a blunt edge. 

There are 10 shades to choose from in total, spanning pale pink to deep brown. All the shades can be worn on their own, under lipstick, or, as the brand recommends, over lipstick. For the latter, blot on your chosen lipstick before defining your lip line with your pencil. This is a great way to experiment with liner if you're new to it. Our only gripe is that it’s not as creamy as some other (newer) lip liners. But it does stay put all day!

Bite Beauty Power Move Creamy Matte Lip Crayon

(Image credit: Bite Beauty)
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13. Bite Beauty Power Move Creamy Matte Lip Crayon

Best cruelty-free lip liner

Specifications

RRP: $26/£24
Shades: 20
Texture: Matte
Extras: Pomegranate extract, wild African mango butter, orange peel wax

Reasons to buy

+
Vegan
+
Gluten-free
+
Precise design
+
Highly pigmented

Reasons to avoid

-
May transfer after long-term wear

Bite Beauty's Lip Crayon is an eco-activist's dream: cruelty-free and vegan, but with no compromise on the color payoff. Its packaging means it's compelling on the shelf and when applied, offers up to eight hours of smudge-free wear. 

What we particularly loved about this was the slender tip, built-in sharpener, and creamy, matte consistency. In other words, it's designed for precise, even application. The unique creamy matte feel stems from a cocktail of powerhouse ingredients, including pomegranate extract, mango butter, and orange peel wax. This trio is packed with antioxidants and essential fatty acids, sealing in moisture and keeping lips nourished. Saving the animals has never felt or looked better.

NUDESTIX Intense Matte Lip and Cheek Pencil

(Image credit: NUDESTIX)

14. NUDESTIX Intense Matte Lip and Cheek Pencil

Best matte lip liner

Specifications

RRP: $26/£20
Shades: 13
Texture: Creamy matte
Extras: Shea butter and vitamin E

Reasons to buy

+
Designed for lips and cheeks
+
Creamy texture easy to blend
+
Sharpener included 

Reasons to avoid

-
Thick applicator may hinder precise application

A true multi-tasking wonder, this chubby lip pencil can be used as a lip liner, lipstick, and a blusher. For the latter, simply scribble your favorite color (there are 12 nude, pink, and red shades to choose from) onto the apples of your cheeks before blending with your fingertips to instantly perk up your complexion. It rivals some of the best cream blushers around. 

For lips, we recommend using the pointed tip to outline your lip line first, and, if you want to fill in lips, use the slanted edge to saturate your pout. Pigment-rich with impressive staying power, this is a handbag essential for when you want to dial up your look on the go. As for shades, go for Entice, a muted pink, for day, and Raven, deep burgundy for night. The velvety matte finish looks ultra-chic.

Best lip liner from Surratt

(Image credit: Surratt )

15. Surratt La Baton Rouge

Best innovative lip liner

Specifications

RRP: $38/£36
Shades: 6
Texture: Cream and powder
Extras: Japanese pigment powders

Reasons to buy

+
Two formulas in one 
+
Long-lasting lip color
+
Seamless application 

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited shade range

Inspired by the softly saturated 'French girl lip' trend, Le Baton Rouge has a dual-ended design that works twice as hard as your standard lip liner. On one end, you’ll find a creamy lightweight formula that lines and fills your lips with intense color. On the other, Japanese pigment powder blots on, like the best setting powder, to set the lip look for a velvet-matte finish. Clever, huh?

If you're concerned that the powder will be too drying and result in cracked lips, do not fret. On testing, we found this ultra-fine formula diffuses lips with a light dusting of pigment that adds a smooth finish that feels creamy as opposed to dry. Available in six sultry shades, this savvy lip stylo can be used to create a variety of looks – from cream to matte – that will be sure to make a statement. We’re obsessed with rich red Galocher and neutral brown Diabolique. 

Best lip liner from UOMA Beauty

(Image credit: UOMA Beauty)

16. UOMA Badass Matte Filler Lip Liner

Best lip liner for color payoff

Specifications

RRP: $16/£14
Shades: 6
Texture: Matte
Extras: Cruelty-free

Reasons to buy

+
Highly pigmented
+
Long-wearing
+
Waterproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited shade range

UOMA Beauty is a need-to-know brand that strives itself for pigment-rich products that deliver impressive staying power, and this Badass MF Lip Liner is no exception. Designed to complement the brand’s best-selling Matte Lipsticks, the smooth liners expertly define and line lips for a more impactful lip look. If it’s a sharp, bold lip look that you’re after, this is your new must-have. 

The pointed tip is the perfect shape to line and fill in your pout with minimal effort and the smooth, silky texture glides across the lip line seamlessly, without dragging. For an unrivaled pout, we recommend shaping your lips first before applying the matching UOMA Beauty lipstick. Oh, and it’s also waterproof, transfer-proof, and cruelty-free. Triple tick!

Best lip liner from Estee Lauder

(Image credit: Estee Lauder)

17. Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Lip Pencil

Best demi-matte lip liner

Specifications

RRP: $21/£19
Shades: 10
Texture: Cream
Extras: Synthetic wax, sodium hyaluronate, silica

Reasons to buy

+
Includes integrated lip brush
+
Long-wearing
+
Lightweight, creamy color

Reasons to avoid

-
May transfer after long-term wear

This creamy, dreamy lip liner is a total joy to apply. The formula contains sodium hyaluronate (a derivative of hyaluronic acid) which makes it super moisturizing and comfortable enough for all-day wear. What’s more, we found that the hydrating formula creates the perfect base – extending the wear of lipstick without feathering or bleeding. 

Of course, the real hero here is the integrated lip brush. Featuring a pointed bristled tip, it’s designed to be used with your go-to lipstick or lip gloss to complete your lip look. Expect a perfectly defined, seamless pout that has a demi-matte finish that will stay put for hours. We're hooked. 


How to select the best lip liners for you

There are four main considerations worth making when shopping for lip liners:

  • Formula: Opt for creamy, velvety textures that glide on easily, stay put, and don’t feel overly drying. Consider ingredients too. Today’s top players are super hydrating with ingredients like glycerin and coconut oil.
  • Color range: You don't have to match it exactly to your lipstick, a nude liner will work under any number of lippies in your collection. Obviously, nude is not one standard shade. Seek out brands with large color ranges to suit every skin tone. The right match will help your lips look fuller.
  • Versatility: The best lip liners can do it all. Our favorites can be worn individually as saturated lipstick or as an outline or layer underneath lipstick or gloss to boost the pigment. Several include practical features, like built-in sharpeners and brushes for blending color. 
  • Applicator: Precision is key, so choose an ultra-fine tip that’s easy to maneuver and won’t drag on the delicate skin around your lips. This also means you won’t smudge outside the lines. Both twist-up and sharpenable options are available, with twist-ups offering speed and convenience but slightly less precision than traditional pencils.

How to apply lip liner

Lip liner application is simple if you follow these four steps:

  • Prime your lips: Invest in a gentle lip scrub to buff away dead skin. Next, apply one of the best lip balms to protect your pout against the elements. Look out for hydrating ingredients such as Vitamin E and Shea butter.
  • Line the top center of your lips: Use short strokes to define the cupid’s bow before following the outside of your lip line. If you want to simultaneously outline and fill your lips, be sure to point the tip upwards at an angle.
  • Fill in your lips: Though optional, this will intensify your lip color and fill in any gaps.
  • Apply lipstick: Use a matching shade or a slightly darker one than your natural lip color. Ultimately, the latter will instantly define and plump your pout. 

For lip liner first-timers, follow Warren's advice. "Blot on your lipstick first and then you’ll be able to see exactly where the lip needs definition," he says. "Next, Apply your lip liner in quarters from outside to center for the perfect finish.”

Dominique McIntee

Dominique worked as a shopping writer at Woman & Home and while with the brand she covered products, sales and deals, and market news across categories. Before joining the team, she penned stories as an editorial fellow at Insider Reviews, the affiliate commerce team at Insider Inc./Business Insider. The bespectacled NJ transplant specializes in commerce journalism, women’s lifestyle content, and hoarding makeup—much to her mother’s dismay.