Kissing is one of my favourite activities. I have spent serious time investigating products & tricks to make it better! Seriously! Other than brushing twice a day, using teeth whitening treatments & flossing, it’s all in the lips.
Lipstick? Gloss? Balm? Help!
Lip balm is essentially moisturiser for the lips — though the composition is different to your facial moisturiser because the skin on your lips has no sweat or sebaceous glands. This means that it doesn’t generate sweat or other body oils, which is what keeps the rest of the skin on your body soft & supple. This is the reason lips tend to need a little help when it comes to moisture. A good lip balm is one of the most important tools in your make-up stash. It’s best to get one with some SPF to help protect your mouth from the sun, especially in summer, while ski-ing, or any time you’re in the Southern hemisphere (something about no ozone layer).
If your lips are totally dry & cracked, go for a medicated balm (I dig Blistex). Another thing to consider is whether you’re drinking enough water, since dehydration shows in the skin.
Lip gloss & lipstick are both purely cosmetic & used to add colour, shine, flavour or glitter to the lips. Lip gloss is often seen as a gateway cosmetic for young girls, while lipstick comes from sleazier origins. There seems to be some debate between whether it was first initially used to imitate the flush of sexual arousal or to make the mouth look more like a vagina, though it was definitely used by prostitutes. Kind of amusing that something with such a salacious history is now used by most corporate women. These days a lot of women feel naked without lipstick, but even if you don’t wear it regularly, it’s a nice finishing touch if you’re going out for a special occasion.
There are a few tricks to wearing lipstick, but I will tell you that if you think your lips look thin usually, you should avoid using dark colour on them. Dark colours make things look smaller (which is why black trousers are so popular), so it’s only going to serve to minimise your lips. If you want to wear lipstick, go for almost-nude or pink. Leave the blood-reds & other vampish shades to the Angelina Jolie types!
So, you’re embarking on an adventure which may involve some kissing. Should you wear lipstick, lip gloss or lip balm?
I say: go for the balm & touch up with lip-gloss whenever you feel like you need it. Lipstick presents problems because:
a) if you’re kissing a boy, he is probably not going to want red lips (unless he is exceptionally open-minded) &
b) if you’re kissing a girl, she probably already has her own colour on & doesn’t need your contribution!
Plus, that messy Courtney Love-with-her-lipstick-all-smeared-off look died a much-needed death a few years ago. Celebrate it!
If you feel like your lips look thin & your pout is missing something without lipstick on, try a lip plumper like DuWop’s Lip Venom. Lip Venom is a gloss containing the spicy oils of cinnamon & ginger which works to plump up your lips & enhances the natural colour. Though it seems kind of weird & barbaric, it’s a very effective weapon in kissing warfare — it is very alluring! The story goes that it was created on the set of Felicity to “mimic the same effect as kissing”, so if you want to look as if you were born to make out, you should give this a try.
In my experience, here are the best ways to prep your lips for a good make-out session.
Scrub — You can go the DIY route by mixing a little sugar with water & rubbing it on your lips, or sprinkling some sugar on top of lip gloss, then brushing it back & forth. Remember to rinse it off! If you have a thing for little pots & specialty products, you could try The Lip Scrub by Sara Happ. The name isn’t so original but at least you know what it does, & it appears to get rave reviews all over the internet. It comes in a variety of flavours (almond creme, peppermint, vanilla bean, brown sugar, cinnamon sugar & cocoa) & apparently it is gentle enough that you can lick it off & it won’t kill you. Awesome. Another way of exfoliating your lips is to use an old soft toothbrush or a damp washcloth to do the same thing.
Lip balm — I like to let my lip balm sink in for a few minutes before doing anything else. In my experiments thus far, The Body Shop’s Cocoa Butter Lip Care Stick (about $5 US) is my shining star. It goes on very smoothly, it smells delicious & it moisturises like nobody’s business.
Lip gloss — Once your lips feel soft & supple, apply some kind of gloss. Your mileage may vary in this department, since people like different levels of shine, flavour & wear. If you’re not sure where to start, Sephora has an amazing selection of glosses which can be sorted by popularity. philosophy does some delicious ones, such as powered sugar cookie, double rich hot cocoa, sugarplum fairy & vanilla birthday cake. I also hear good things about Lancome’s Juicy Tubes, though I haven’t tried them since super-shiny ain’t my bag. My personal favourites are Bloom Cosmetics’ Sweet Pea Lip Gloss, Smackers’ Lip Frosting in Birthday, Perfumeria Gal Violette, The Body Shop’s Cranberry Shimmer Lip Balm & Strawberry Born Lippy Lip Balm. These come recommended because they’re not too shiny, they taste good & they apply smoothly. I love the look of MAC’s Lipglass range, but unfortunately they are gloopy & make kissing messy. However, having said that, I have far more tubes of various lip gloss than I know what to do with. I bought something ridiculous like a 24-pack of Lip Smackers a couple of years ago & have yet to finish even ONE of them. Tragic!
One thing to keep in mind if you’re shopping for lip products is that you should NEVER apply anything from a tester to your mouth. At MAC Cosmetics I know that their lip gloss testers are without applicators, & they will give you a new one if you want to try something out, but even the idea of that gives me the heebie jeebies. People double-dip, you know! Personally I am not willing to risk contracting a cold-sore because I wanted to be sure I loved my purchase. The best thing about lip gloss is that it tends to be cheap, so if you buy a few you don’t like that much, it’s not a huge fiscal nightmare.
Experiment & enjoy! You might end up mixing a few different types & find something you really love, but of course, applying a lush coat to your mouth & then asking someone cute how it tastes is a good way of garnering information too!