Style & Beauty

Lip Perfection

Here’s how you can keep your pucker in the pink

By Lola Augustine Brown

 Photo: iStock/viperagp.


We all know the power of a smile, and whether you’re a fan of bright lipstick or prefer a more natural look, your smile will look better if you give your lips a little TLC. This is especially true in our brutal Canadian winters, when our poor lips have to contend with bitter cold and harsh wind. Never fear, we’ve got solutions for lip perfection, from buffing and moisturizing to applying colour.

Several factors contribute to changes in the lip area as we get older, says Nathalie Doyon, the director of Rainspa in Montreal. “When we reach menopause, hormonal changes slow down the skin’s production of collagen, meaning that our skin loses density and elasticity and gets drier. This causes changes to our appearance such as wrinkles around the lips and sagging of the skin in this area,” she says. “Stress and environmental conditions exacerbate the problem. It’s a concern that many of our clients share.”

The area around the lips is notoriously tricky to treat, but there are a number of solutions available, and by using products formulated specifically to help that area, you can see impressive results.

“We have to take as much care of this area as we do the rest of our face, so protecting year-round with sunscreen and balm with SPF is important,” Doyon says. “Then hydration is definitely the best way to protect this area from premature aging, and you need to use products rich in hyaluronic acid to best provide protection.”

The Right Products
As with almost any beauty concern, “hydration is key,” says Kyla Niccole, a freelance makeup artist in Halifax. “Moisturized lips are always going to look plumper, and that’s something we need when we get older and our lips can begin to look smaller and thinner.”

Niccole advises using a lip scrub twice a week, and her favourite is Lush’s Honey Lip Scrub ($10.95), a sugar scrub that exfoliates dead skin cells to leave lips smooth. She then hydrates using Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask ($24) overnight, and sometimes during the day, too, especially in drier and colder weather.

“Because the skin of the lips is thinner, much like that in the eye area, we have to use specific creams and treatments to properly moisturize them,” Doyon says, recommending Dermalogica’s Nightly Lip Treatment ($69).

Although these treatments will, over time, help make a difference in the appearance of the skin around your lips, more intensive (and expensive) treatments are available at a “medispa” (a medical spa) or a dermatologist’s office.

Chloe Smith, the scientific communications and national education lead at SkinCeuticals Canada, says that while you can’t use Botox or fillers here as you can in other areas of the face, dermatologists are increasingly using techniques such as laser therapies and microneedling to stimulate the production of collagen around the lips—in a sense, forcing the skin to rejuvenate itself. If you’re investing in this type of treatment, you’ll need to follow up with treatments that capitalize on their effects.

“Once you’ve had something done at the dermatologist’s office, you really should ensure that you then use proven active ingredients that will continue collagen production in the skin,” Smith says. She advises the use of SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($175 for a four-month supply), which is designed to deliver vitamin C. “The second step is to use a product that rebuilds hyaluronic acid content in the skin, delivering hydration and plumping the skin,” Smith says, recommending SkinCeuticals H A Intensifier ($120), a multifunctional corrective serum that quenches the skin.

Polish and Paint
Once you’ve dealt with the skin on and around your lips, you’ve created the perfect base on which to add a little (or a lot of) colour to your complexion. Niccole says that one easy solution is to use a tinted balm such as Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm ($6.99, available in six sweet shades). “These are great for when you want a pop of colour but don’t want to do a full lip, as you don’t need to use a liner with them,” she says.

Before applying lipstick or any makeup, Niccole advises running a primer around the edge of your lips. “I recommend a pore-filling primer such as Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch [$38], which creates a wall and fills in creases to prevent your lipstick from bleeding.”

The next step to prevent your lip colour from bleeding into fine lines is to use a liner, which Niccole says needs to be the same shade as your lipstick or just a little darker to avoid creating a harsh line. “You can apply your lipstick first and then the liner afterwards; some people find that easier to do,” she says. She cautions against overdrawing the lips, as that can make it difficult to get an even shape.

When applying colour, Niccole starts from her bottom lip and rolls the colour up, blots, and then applies a little more colour. “I don’t do another full coat, because putting on too much lipstick can make the colour move around, and the less product you put on your lips, the less there is to bleed into your fine lines,” she says. As for picking a lipstick, Niccole loves drugstore brands such as Maybelline’s Color Sensational ($9.99), which comes in 24 shades; its creamy formulation is kind to the lips. “Experiment with shades and formulations to see which works best for you,” she says. “Have fun with your makeup.”