After eyes, lips are our next most important feature. They attract attention because they are so key to communication. Therefore, itís important that we pay just as much careful attention to applying colour to our lips as we do for our eyes. Dry, cracked lips or half worn lipstick really detracts from your overall polish, no matter how great the rest of your makeup application.
To keep your lips looking great at all times, develop the habit of touching up your colour after coffee and lunch and also during your regular bathroom breaks throughout the day. Keep a small mirror in your purse to check your lips before meetings. If you keep your lip colour relatively simple for daywear, it will only take a minute to do a quick touch up.
For those women who prefer not to wear makeup, lipstick will make a world of difference to their personal presence, even if itís a neutral shade.
Great lips start with proper care and hydration so that lip products apply smoothly and stay put longer. Smooth and well hydrated lips also help make you look younger.
Maintaining Soft, Kissable Lips
The softer and smoother your lips, the better lip product will apply and the better it will look. And that means the better you will look!
Exfoliating your lips regularly will remove surface dead skin cells and keep your lip texture soft and smooth. Right after a shower is always a good time to do so. There are commercial exfoliant products available (Mary Kay has an excellent one), but you can also simply apply a generous amount of lip balm, wait for it to be absorbed and then scrub your lips vigorously with a soft toothbrush or towel. Or if you prefer, scrub with plain white table sugar and a wash cloth. Whichever route you choose, always moisturize afterwards.
Because lips donít have oil glands, they are vulnerable to sun, wind and heated rooms and thus easily become chapped, particularly during the summer and winter months. Wearing lipstick or lip gloss stops moisture loss, another good reason to keep your lip colour applied. But for those days when you do not feel like wearing colour, you should most definitely apply lip balm throughout the day.
Drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily will help keep your entire body well hydrated, including your lips. And applying lip balm before going to bed will keep your lips from drying out overnight while you sleep.
Preparing the Lips for Colour
Moisturizing your lips before applying colour will help colour go on more smoothly for a more natural look.
Some authorities also recommend including the lips when applying foundation as it helps form a base for the lip colour so that it stays on longer and the colour applies more evenly.
Selecting the Right Colours
According to Kelly Weldrick of Makeup in Motion, you should choose your lip colour based on skin tone.
- Fair Skins: Glossy transparent pink, light peach, honey, beige
- Medium Skins: Medium pink, soft mocha, caramel, soft red, medium apricot, brighter peach
- Olive Skins: Strong red, deep rose, berry, toffee, mahogany, dark apricot, brownish red
- Ebony Skins: Deep brownish red, deep berry, deep fuchsia, golden beige
When it comes to lips, size really does matter. Full lips can wear darker colours, as long as they complement the skin tone. For smaller lips, choose lighter and brighter colours. Warm, colourful lips will make you appear younger.
As the following example shows, changing your shade of lipstick can change your look dramatically!
Here are a few more things to consider when choosing your lip colour:
- Always keep your skin tone in mind to help avoid expensive mistakes. For example, chocolate brown lipstick on ivory toned skin will age the skin and look very unnatural. Pale, frosty shades with bronze skin will look ashy and artificial.
- Dark lip colours will age you faster than any other makeup product. Lighter and warmer lip colours, on the other hand, will make you look younger because they bring out the warm tones in your face and add life to your face.
- Remember to keep colours lighter for daytime and darker for night.
For help in determining which colours suit you best, ask the makeup artist at a makeup salon or your local Shoppers or department store to test different shades on your lips. Go without wearing any makeup Ė the best shade for you is one that looks great all by itself. Make sure to check the colour in natural light for the truest measure of how it really works with your complexion.
Lip liner is a coloured pencil used to define and shape the lips prior to lipstick or gloss application. It also stops lipstick from bleeding or feathering out into fine lines around the mouth area Ė those with very dry or mature skin are more prone to feathering and so would benefit most from using a lip liner product.
Lip liner applied over the entire surface of the lip helps increase your lipstickís staying power. You first outline your lips and then gently rub the pencil over your entire lip area so that lips are finely coated. You do not want it too dark on your lips or it will interfere with your lipstick colour and could cause your lipstick to appear blotchy.
Lip Liner Application Tips
- If your lips are nicely balanced, you donít have problems with bleeding or feathering, and youíre wearing a lighter shade of colour on your lips, you donít necessarily need to use lip liner. However, darker colours look much crisper around the edge of the lips when lip liner is present.
- Always apply lip liner before lipstick.
- To make small lips appear larger, place the liner on the outer edge of your lip line. Do not stray too far outside the lip line or what you are doing will appear too obvious and youíll look like a clown.
- To make larger lips appear smaller, place the liner on the inner edge of your lip line. Do not go too far inside the line or it will look like you missed part of your lips when you apply your lipstick.
- You can balance uneven lips by outlining the outer edge of the smaller lip and the inner edge of the larger lip.
- If you have problems with lip colour fading or coming off before youíre able to apply touchups, then chose a neutral lip liner so that when your lipstick fades youíre not left with a bright outline around your lips.
- Apply lip liner lightly over the entire lip area to increase the staying power of your lipstick.
- Lip liner should be the same colour as your lipstick or at least a close match within the same colour family. Wearing a darker shade of liner is no longer in fashion and so it will make you look dated.
Lipstick is available in four different formulas.
Matte lipstick provides intense full coverage colour with absolutely no shine. It stays on the longest, but can be drying. Dark, intense shades stay put and wonít smear.
Creme lipstick contains more emollients (moisturizing agents, like candelilla wax for example) than matte and thus provides full coverage of moist (but not shiny) colour. It is the most popular type as it wears well without being as dehydrating as the matte finishes.
Frost lipstick provides a opaque coverage with a shiny, metallic appearance. It can make lips appear a little dry and does not look the best on mature lips.
Sheer lipstick provides more transparent coverage that allows the natural colour of the lips to show through. It lasts longer than gloss, but not as long as creme. Because of its sheerness it does not have to be applied with precision so that touchups are quick and easy. It usually looks darker in the tube than it will on your mouth.
There are two other terms you should know in order to make an informed purchase decision about what type of lipstick to buy. Transfer-resistant means lipstick should last up to 8 hours unless you eat something oily or greasy. Certainly convenient, but they can be extremely drying and most of the makeup books Iíve read advise women to steer clear of them. Long wearing means it should last 4-6 hours. Try to purchase a brand containing moisture rich Vitamin E and aloe, otherwise you could find this formula drying as well.
Lipstick Application Tips
- Your lip colour should never compete with your eyes because the entire look will be too overpowering. If you have colourful eye makeup then opt for a more neutral lip colour. Vice versa, if your eye makeup is neutral then choose a brighter lip colour to make them pop.
- Always choose your lipstick colour based on skin tone, never on what youíre wearing.
- If you have small lips, avoid dark shades because they tend to make your mouth look like a thin sliver. Lighter colours with a bit of shine will add the illusion of size. Try applying a midtone shimmer lipstick and adding a dot of lip gloss in the centre of your lower lip. If you prefer reds or deeper hues, try sheer lipsticks and glosses.
- If you have large lips, darker shades will make your lips seem smaller and more balanced with the rest of your features. Lighter shades, on the other hand, will emphasize their fullness. High shine lip glosses can appear goopy on larger lips, so stick with cremes or frosts if you'd like a bit of shine.
- If you have unbalanced lips, placing a similar shade a tone lighter on the smaller lip will help add balance, but subtlety is the key as too great a colour different will look funny. A safer alternative is to place a light layer of gloss with just a hint of sheer colour over the smaller lip, which will naturally lighten your lipstick shade.
- Bright shades can be toned down a bit by applying lip gloss over top.
- Donít be afraid to experiment - create your own shades by combining colours.
- To prevent lipstick from adhering to your teeth, put your pointer finger in your mouth (wash your hands first, please), close your mouth and then slowly slide your finger out. This removes any excess product that would otherwise end up on your teeth.
- Use a lip brush for greater precision, particularly when applying darker colours.
- For longer lasting colour, apply lipstick in layers. After the first coat, blot lightly and then dust with a light powder before adding the second coat.
- After applying your lipstick, trace the outside of your lips with a little concealer, using light strokes with a small brush. This brings the light to your mouth.
- To get the last little bit remaining of your favourite shade, scrape out the tube with a cotton swap, mix with Vaseline or lip gloss and apply with a lip brush.
- If your lipstick breaks off, remove the broken portion with a tissue and slowly wave a lit match under the broken piece of lipstick. When it's melted a bit, put it back on the base, swivel it down and put it in the fridge (uncovered) for 30 minutes. (I havenít tried this one myself, but it just might work.)
Lip gloss is sheer colour with extreme shine and moisture that provides a youthful shimmer to the lips. It is often used when a woman wants some colour on her lips, but not the more intense, solid effect that lipstick would create. Though it doesnít last long and must be applied often throughout the day, it does give a fresh, alive look thatís perfect for all age groups. It can also make the lips look fuller and sexier.
Some of the newer formulas contain ďplumpersĒ which make the lip appear fatter. These are cheap, easy, and harmless alternatives to collagen, Restylane, Juvederm, and/or fat injections, but the effects are temporary and short-lasting. Other formulas offer added moisturizing benefits and/or sunscreen protection. Natural makeup companies market lip gloss with mainly natural ingredients except for preservatives.
Lipgloss can be completely clear, translucent or coloured, and may have a frosted, glitter or metallic finish. Liquid forms are generally packaged in a cylindrical bottle with an applicator wand or built in lip brush, but some formulas come in tubes designed for application with the fingertip. Solid forms come in pots or tubes and can be applied either with your finger or a lip brush.
Lip gloss is often applied over matte or creme lipstick to achieve a shiny effect with a more solid colour base. (Marilyn Munroe apparently used to do this.) You can also make your own coloured lip gloss by mixing lipstick with clear gloss.
Lip Gloss Application Tips
- Lip gloss can be applied either over lipstick or alone for a more natural look.
- Look for lip gloss that includes beneficial ingredients such as vitamin E and soybean extract to keep lips hydrated and antioxidants to protect against damaging free radicals.
- If you donít want to use your finger but donít have a lip brush handy, try applying the gloss with a Q-tip.
- Because lip gloss adds volume, women with larger lips should use it sparingly.
- If you have problems with feathering or colour bleed, apply lip gloss to the centre of your lips only. (If you cover your lips completely, the gloss could cause your lip liner to soften and spread.)
- For special occasions, try silver or gold lip gloss over lipstick for a rich metallic sheen.