A while ago (it may have been last year, or even the year before that), I mentioned that I had been comparing recent and old photographs of myself and trying – in a highly scientific and objective manner – to identify which changes to my face were the most ageing. (You’d think it would be difficult to look at your own face in an objective way, but if you’ve spent a decade or more as a model, with people zooming in on your nose and lips and keeping up a running commentary about your eyelid colour or the spacing of your teeth, then you learn to be as detached as possible!)
One of the things that I noticed was that it looked as though my lips were losing their volume. And as lips tend to get less plumptious with age (pretty much everything gets less plumptious with age, as collagen production slows down), it follows that thinning lips can make you look a little less youthful. I asked my friend Caroline Barnes about this (Caroline is a very experienced and in-demand makeup artist and knows all sorts of cosmetic trickery!) and she said that it’s not just about the lips losing volume, it’s about the lip line losing its definition, which in turn makes the lips seem much smaller.
We did actually film a video along these lines, if you’ll excuse the pun, and you can watch it here – but it’s only in the past few months that I’ve properly taken Caroline’s advice on board. (Shame on me!) She suggested using a lip liner to redefine the lips and, if they’re lacking in volume, “cheating” a bit more of a curve. My lips don’t really lack volume, but they do lack a little definition and so I’ve been using a nude lip pencil to subtly trace along the outer lines.
And does a lip liner make a difference?
Too right it does! I’ve taken to using one every time I do my makeup – what have I been playing at for all of these years? It’s like an instant lip overhaul! Sometimes I put it on even when I’m not wearing any lipstick, sketching the faintest of lines and then using a plain or tinted lip balm over the top.
Take a look at my “with and without” pictures – I’ve used a pink lip liner, which might seem odd, but I thought that it was good to choose a shade that was a little noticeable, so that you could see where I’d drawn it on, but also subtle enough for you to get the idea of the final effect. I don’t go about with pink lip liner on and no lipstick normally, rest assured! Here I am without lip liner:
Can you see how the extra definition gives a fuller look? I was careful not draw outside of my actual lip line, because this post is about redefining and not about using liner to “enlarge”. That’s a brilliant cheat, but a whole other story – I always think that’s quite a specific skill, and I’ve had many a makeup artist botch it up on my face, leaving me looking clown-like and slightly grotesque.
Here’s a close-up without lip liner and then with – again, excuse the pink. I thought that it would be helpful to be able to see it, but now I wish I’d taken the photos using a nude one!
Note how my lower lip line is sort of smudgey and non-descript in the before picture; the liner just gives a nice, definite edge and reasserts the lip boundaries, for want of a better phrase. Lips look fuller, but the application method is foolproof – it’s basically just tracing what’s already there.
I realise that I’m probably very late to the lip liner party – I never really understood the need for it, before, but it’s bloody great stuff! A lip pencil matched exactly to your own lip shade is a thing of great magnificence (at the moment I’m using one that’s had all the writing rubbed off, so I can’t even tell you what brand it is let alone the shade!) and I shall now never be without one.
I also realise that this post is stating the obvious almost to the point of hilarity. I mean, “for redefined lips, take a lip pencil and trace around your natural lip line.” It’s all rather Pippa’s Tips. But there must be other people out there who have never thought to delve into the world of liners, especially if they don’t wear lipstick.
Tell me: are you a lip liner aficionado? Or is it one of those makeup items you’ve never bothered to try?
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