Lip Mapping Guide – How to Get the Perfect Lip Shape for PMU

By Emily M.| Last updated on August 16, 2023
Lip mapping
⏱️ 7 min read

Perfectly symmetrical lips are either something we’re born with or something that can be achieved through various lip enhancement procedures. Cosmetic lip tattoos are arguably the best option for getting better lip shape and enhanced color or dimension.

But, before any lip tattoo process begins, it is important to first map out the client’s lip shape in order to achieve the most flattering results.

If you’re unsure of which lip mapping guide to follow or which products to use, read this article to find out what lip mapping is, how it’s done, and pick up some of our tips and tricks along the way!

What Is Lip Mapping?

Lip mapping is the process of creating a detailed and precise outline of the desired lip shape before applying permanent makeup. It’s an important step before any PMU procedure for achieving symmetrical, natural-looking results.

Lip blush tattoo mapping should always be done in a way that complements the client’s facial features and enhances their overall appearance. Correct mapping can also help minimize the risk of any mistakes during the actual lip tattooing process.

What is lip mapping
Image source: Instagram @sarahlarvinspmu

Why Is Lip Mapping So Important?

Lip mapping is an important step in the permanent makeup application process for the following reasons:

First, it allows artists to visualize the best lip shape for their clients and make any necessary adjustments before starting the actual tattooing process. This ensures that the final result is consistent and precise.

Second, it allows clients to visualize the final results, so it helps reduce the anxiety your client may be experiencing before their procedure. By having a clear idea of the final lip shape, the client can feel more confident and relaxed before their procedure begins.

Why is lip mapping so important
Image source: Instagram @definitionaesthetics.emma

Which Products You Need for Lip Blush Mapping

Lip mapping is a fairly simple process, but it does take some time and practice to master. To make mapping easier for you and safer for your clients, take a look at our top product picks, from cleaning and prep to mapping tools and disposable items. 

What You Need for Cleaning

Before any lip mapping process begins, it is important to first disinfect the treated area. The best way to do this is to use micellar water to remove any makeup residue from your client’s lips, then proceed to disinfect the general lip area with alcohol wipes.

What You Need for Prep

If your client has particularly dry lips, you can use Hustle Butter or a similar lip nourishing product to make their lips softer and more even in texture before you begin mapping.

If you’re using numbing cream for lip blushing, you can decide whether you want to apply it before or after mapping. If you decide to pre-numb before mapping, and mapping takes you a long time, there’s a chance the effects will wear off.

But if you’re quick with the mapping, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Mapping Pencils & Markers

Mapping pencils and markers are the most important tools to have at your disposal when mapping your clients’ lips.

A white lip mapping pencil that is creamy in texture is perfect for sketching and marking the highest points on your clients’ lips. It is the best option for lip mapping due to its visibility.

You can use a colored lip pencil, most commonly red or pink, to fill out your clients’ lips after sketching out the outline, in order for them and yourself to get a clear picture of how their lips will look after the pigment is applied.

Some professionals use a non-toxic red or white marker to draw out the outline of the lips. Markers are less likely to smudge and come with a very fine tip, so if you’re struggling with precision, this can be a great option to try out.

Mapping String

Mapping string or thread is used to make horizontal lines above and below the lips to create an outline in harmony with the client’s facial structure. It can mark ultra-thin, sharp lines which is very useful for mapping the cupid’s bow.

Lip mapping string usually comes packaged pre-inked with charcoal or cosmetic ink, and comes in various sizes and colors, with the most popular choice for lip artists being white.

White Mapping Paste

White mapping paste is used by many permanent makeup artists to highlight the contour around the lips or eyebrows. It can be a very useful and long-lasting mapping tool when applied with a flat or angled makeup brush.

This white paste has a creamy, thick consistency that doesn’t tighten the skin or weigh it down, so it is suitable for use around the lips. The only thing to note is that it is very prone to smudging, so some artists tend to avoid it and use a white pencil instead.

Mapping Tools

If you’re a beginner artist, lip blush mapping may come as a challenge until you get enough practice.

To help you make exact measurements, a caliper tool or a compass may come in handy. They can also be used for eyebrow mapping, so you’ll be investing in a versatile tool for PMU.

Disposable Items

Finally, disposable items like cotton pads, lip brushes and applicators are something without which you can’t perform your service.

You’ll need a square cotton pad to place in your client’s mouth, to act as a mouthguard of sorts and help you work more efficiently.

Items like microbrushes and disposable applicators are important for cleaning up smudges and making your pre-draw look impeccable. Precision when applying permanent lipstick is key, so having these products available and easy to reach is really important.

How to Map Lips for PMU – Step-by-Step Guide

Lip mapping is a process that can be done by using a lip pencil, mapping string, white mapping paste, a lip marker, or by combining these items.

But, the base for proper lip outlining is mastering the pencil method which you can then upgrade with other products to achieve the best symmetry. Here’s a step-by-step look into lip mapping with a pencil:

Step 1 – Mapping the Cupid’s Bow

Mark the center of your clients’ upper lip. Find the highest points of the cupid’s bow and mark them with dots using your white lip mapping pencil. You should be able to get an even triangle of three dots.

Step 2 – Mapping the Lower Lip

To correctly mark the lower lip, you should transfer the dots you marked on the upper lip, by drawing vertical lines. You should be able to see a rectangle between the upper and lower lip.

Step 3 – Mapping the Corners of the Mouth

Mark with dots the corners of the mouth, making sure that the lines of the upper and lower lip merge smoothly into these points and connect. Be careful not to draw above the natural lip line.

Step 4 – Connect All the Dots

Some artists draw just several dots across the outline of the lips, while others draw a large number of dots – whichever method you prefer, the main thing to know is that there should be the same distance or spacing between them.

Step 5 – Soften the Lines

Soften the lines you’ve created, smoothly circling along the contour of the lips. Hand placement is key for achieving precise results.

Step 6

Outline the sketch with a white pencil or with white mapping paste and a brush to create a shadow. This will make it much easier to evaluate the symmetry of the lips, and give you a clearer idea of the boundaries within which to work.


As much as your client may want extra fullness, it’s extremely important never to tattoo outside of the vermillion border, the junction between the skin of the lips and the skin of the face.

Not all of the lip skin is pink – most people have a pale stretch of lip skin around the rosy parts, which can be colored in with lip blush. But pigment should never be implemented further, as this can cause unattractive fading and smudging.

Therefore, your outline should end where the pores and hairs begin.

lip blush tips
Image source: Instagram @tesstattoo

Lip Blush Mapping Tips & Tricks

We’ve collected a few helpful tips and tricks for easier lip blush mapping, so let’s take a look:

Use a Square Cotton Pads as Mouth Guards

You can use a square cotton pad splashed with distilled water to act as a mouthguard while you implement pigment. This hack is extremely comfortable for the client while at the same time catching any product that could potentially fall into their mouth.

Just place a square cotton pad folded in thirds in your client’s mouth, between their lips and their teeth. This can also provide structure and sturdiness while you’re working by limiting lip movement.

@seduireacademy How to place a Lip Blush Mouth Gaurd folding a cotton pad in thirds with a splash of distilled water 💦 Follow to learn more PMU tips! #lipblushtattoo #liptattoo #pmutips #pmutipsandtricks #lipblushtraining #lipblushcalifornia #liptattoochallenge #pmustudent ♬ Sunny Day - Ted Fresco

Look at Your Map from Different Angles

If you’ve done your mapping while your client was laying down, ask them to sit up – this will help you see if there is any possible unevenness.

Ask your client to make different facial expressions (smile, frown) to check if everything is even in the inner corners. Ask them to pout (i.e. make a duck face) to check the cupid’s bow and whether the arches of the lips are the same height.

Set Your Outline with Powder

If you have problems with smudging your lines during pre-drawing, apply a small amount of setting powder over the lips with a cotton pad. Ask your client to open their mouth to evenly set the inner corners of the lips.

Wait 30 seconds for the powder to absorb and then wipe it off.

If you’re looking for more lip blush tips and ways to improve your technique, click here.

Final Note

Lip mapping is something that takes time and patience to get right. Luckily, there are good quality products on the market like pencils, mapping string, and even precision tools like calipers that allow for quicker, easier outlining and pre-drawing.

Whichever method you choose to map your clients’ lips, remember to take your time – their results will only be as good as the effort you put into correcting their lip shape!

Cover image source: Freepik



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