Like it or not, lips are a shorthand for a person’s character. The ancient art of Chinese face reading favors a full lip, believed to be indicative of a person with passion, happiness, and devotion. The shape of your lips hints to your levels of generosity, friendliness, and creativity. On a conscious or unconscious level, people around you can pick up on these traits. That’s why it’s important to enhance the great lips you were given—or get the shape you want.
Never mind that the words that sprout forth from your lips are as sweet as birdsong and as wise as Athena’s—perhaps your pout could use a perking up. Fine lines, asymmetry and lack of volume can all be solved with the subtle art of filling by a highly trained OrangeTwist expert. Ask about Belotero, a quick, natural-feeling and immediate fix that fills in the tiny lines around the mouth caused by repeated movement. The Juvéderm family of fillers can add a nearly imperceptible plumping of the lips so you still look like yourself, only better.
You might be religious about exfoliating the rest of your face, but lips need love too! Use a washcloth or very soft toothbrush to gently get rid of dry, dead skin. You can also make a scrumptious scrub with some sugar and a dollop of honey. The American Academy of Dermatology has great advice to keep your lips smooth and full, including using a non-irritating balm (if your lips are tingling from mint, camphor or a similar stimulating substance in a balm, you can be doing further damage). White petroleum jelly can soothe cracked, dry lips; a humidifier can help cut down on chapping, and make sure to drink plenty of water and chose a go-to balm that contains SPF for daily use.
The great news here is that whether you’re a Bold Betty or a Neutral Nellie, you’ll find the color you’ll need online or in stores, no problem. But where to start? First is to understand if your skin has warm or cool undertones, advise Afton Williams and Maya Allen in Byrdie. Warm tones generally look better with gold jewelry and are flattered by darker reds and hints of orange; cool tones are complemented by silver and look best with lip colors that have purple or blue hues. For the ultimate nude-lip experience, Bobbi Brown suggests going just one or two shades brighter or deeper than your natural lip color.
Your Sephora Shopping List
There are, of course, a zillion products for your lips at Sephora. It’s hard to know where to start, so here are a few simple steps for the kind of lip service you actually crave.
Prep: Start your journey with the Fresh Sugar Lip Polish Exfoliator to hydrate and scrub dead skin. Also try the Tatcha Kissu Lip Mask, made with rose and peach extracts to keep your lips soft and plump. Keep a stick of peptide-packed Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm on hand for extra moisture all day, anywhere.
Plump: Lip plumpers stimulate the cells in your lips to puff up temporarily upon application. The old-school ones had a trade-off, in that they felt like you were basically wiping a hot pepper over your mouth. The new ones are more gentle. Try Make Up Forever’s hydrating Ultra HD Lip Booster for a clear application without color, or try Buxom’s Full-On Plumping Lip Cream Gloss, which comes in tons of colors.
Line: For a dramatic look, Givenchy’s Universal Noir Révélateur Lip Liner uses black to help define your color and stop it from bleeding out. Or you can match your color better with a creamy Bobbi Brown Art Stick, which comes with a sharpener.
Color: People are fiercely loyal to their brand of lip color—and often downright religious about the precise shade. If you’re up for a change, liquid lipsticks require a precise application but feel like nothing once they’re on and can last for hours. Try the Yves Saint Laurent Tatouage Couture Liquid Matte Lip Stain or the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick. Tom Ford’s limited-edition Lost Cherry Lip Color is a Sephora favorite; a Laura Mercier set gives you two complementary colors in a pack. For a high-impact vibe, try the iridescent Huda Beauty Power Bullet Metallic Lipstick.