Quick: If you had limited time to put on makeup in the morning, what one thing would you reach for?
Did you say mascara?
Or was it lipstick?
For me, it’s all about the lips (although I must admit that eyelashes are a close second).
Sure, eyelashes may thin as we age, but lips…well, they take thinning to the extreme. It’s really no surprise that so many people visit Dr. Little for a little filler here and there to restore them; they can make a huge difference to how you look, and thinning lips can cause your confidence to take a tumble. Blame the loss of collagen – that protein that helps support your body’s soft tissue. You know, the stuff that makes your lips full and plump.
Or, ahem, formerly full and plump.
Add in some ultraviolet rays from the sun and there’s more than just age causing that collagen breakdown. (Note: Use an SPF on your lips! Always!)
I’ve always admired Angelina Jolie’s lips. Mine are – and always were – a far cry from hers. I think full lips define a face so beautifully, lending expression, sultriness and a certain glamour; don’t you?
Can you fake them? Sure, there are some ways. When I googled, “How to get fuller lips,” more than a few ways came up:
“About 10,700,000 results” to be exact.
You can draw a line with a pencil that matches your lip color. But this can’t be rushed, or done with the wrong color (not to mention that it must be done completely sober). I found out the hard way some years back when I saw my husband’s expression as I returned from the ladies room at our favorite fancy restaurant the night we went to celebrate a milestone birthday. (Hence, my new nickname: Clown Mouth).
Scratch that trick. I never tried it again; now I have FOCM. (Fear of Clown Mouth).
Then there’s something you can do with highlighter – blend a thin line of it (the liquid kind) along your “cupid’s bow.” Don’t ask me why, but doing this somehow makes your lips look “curvier” by letting the light bounce off the highlighted area.
I also found a suction cup that fits over your lips; the act of pulling on your lips sends blood rushing to them, hence the (temporary) puffiness. Um, no thanks.
And then there are fillers (injectable gels) like JUVÉDERM ULTRA® XC and JUVÉDERM VOBELLA® XC, recently approved by the FDA for lip augmentation.The gel is composed of a modified form of hyaluronic acid (HA), a naturally occurring sugar that’s found in the human body. Pretty amazing stuff, actually. It increases the fullness of your lips while also softening the appearance of fine lines around your mouth (another thing that happens as the years march on). Results, although not permanent, are apparent as soon as the gel hits your lips, and you’ll enjoy the best results at about the three-month mark; almost 80 percent of patients were still happy one year later.
Manhattan board-certified dermatologist Dr. Monica Halem says that treating the lips with these substances gives natural results that won’t look obvious at all. She assured me that the outcome would be subtle and natural. And it was just that. Full disclosure: I was treated to a session to see for myself. In case you’re wondering, no, it didn’t hurt – my lips were numbed ahead of time with a topical gel, and I didn’t feel a thing; plus, the gel is fortified with a small amount of local anesthetic (lidocaine) to help minimize discomfort.
And now, my lips are nowhere close to Angelina’s, nor do they resemble a clown’s mouth. They are a bit fuller, a bit more even than before, and every bit the type I had as a young girl. It’s a really subtle change, but a nice one, helped by Dr. Halem’s expert artistry.
If you’re curious about other aesthetic procedures, check out this tool which can help you locate a board-certified plastic surgeon.
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