Lips, glorious lips!
Has there ever been a part of the body more hallowed than…well…the lips? Not those lips. Get your mind out of the gutter!!! In all seriousness our lips are something we take for granted. When they’re healthy and plump, we ignore them, slathering on bright colours and risky formulas. When they’re tired and cracked, we feel it. We’ll use anything to make them right.
From my first ‘Knock on the door’ apple lip balm and Body Shop special in strawberry, to the purple lippy my aunty bought me when I was eight, to the very glamorous lineup I have acquired today, plumpcious lips are one thing which never goes out of style. You can never have too many beauty products to primp, plump and hydrate.
Nay, we even have gone so far as to inject things into our face to make our lips more plump and rosy. It give us that Kylie bee-stung look. It isn’t for everyone and personally it isn’t for me. I like my lips to look like those God gave me, rather than have a pouty, exaggerated look. But we can’t ignore how the visual obsession with lips dominates our society. Even if we aren’t going to change our lips with injections, we have a duty to take care of them the best we can. We owe it to history…
Our love of lips goes way back, as the first sensual invitation for men to lust after women when wrists and ankle-showing was considered scandalous. The most famous smile in history goes to Mona Lisa, Da Vinci’s famous masterpiece. Her smile is a teasing one, with lush, yet not very showy lips. While she might not cut Kardashian levels by today’s standards of duck-face, she is an icon of the power of the female gaze to bounce back and confront its viewer, rather than be subdued and subject to scrutiny. All indicated by her minxy smirk.
Maybe it’s lips that maketh the muse...
For instance, take Vermeer’s very famous ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’. The earring is the focus subject in the painting. However, I would argue that it is the girls parted lips which are most arresting feature. Open, just slightly, giving the portrait a spontaneous moment, our heroine is caught in mid-sentence, directly starring at the viewer without reproach. She’s direct in her gaze with her eyes and mouth, confronting The viewer using a females primary weapon to capture sexual attention: the lips. Yes, a look or licking of the mouth implies a thirsty lust. (Ooh la la. It’s making me feel rather hot and flustered.) The most famous mouth in Hollywood, Scarlett Johansson, played the girl with said earring in the 2005 movie of the same name. Well done to the casting director.
Flash forward and what was it that everyone was obsessed about with Marilyn Monroe? Sure, maybe her curves and voluptuous figure, but it was first signalled in her headshots with those wonderful lips. Glossy, glassy and teasing, she had a pair of lips which set the twentieth century on fire. Her mouth was immortalised in Andy Warhols Marilyn portraits where you see her visage roughly printed in crude newsprint style, but with features unmistakably hers - as signalled by her lips, hair and eyes.
And I? What do I think about lips. I always hated my ‘fat lips’ and ‘big brows’ at school. It was only later I came to appreciate my features and really understand how much the world loves plump lips - from Brooke Shields to Gemma Ward. I’ve exfoliated them with a tooth-brush, laboriously massaged them with Blistex (to what end, I do not know) and tried to paint them all the colours of the rainbow. Only more recently have I started to think about them needing separate care in the way I do my nails or hair. They need love and maintenance, just as much as any part of my body.
To look after my lips, I personally love the Mecca Lip De Lucious Range which is a night mask for your lips but also has SPF in it for the day time. It is a hydrating and rich treatment which creates immediate rejuvenation and plumpness, even in the coldest climates. It comes in pot and stick form, and is packed with hyaluranic acid, shea butter, vitamin E and pomegranate seed. The ‘Glide’ lip balms have the same content, with a slight tint. Perfect for the neurotic friend who hates dipping their fingers into a pot for hygiene reasons.
In equally good standing is the Kiehl’s Butterstick Treatemt with SPF 25 and the Kiehl’s Buttermask for nighttime. Gently tinted, and a personal favourite of mine, this is a supremely hydrating and smoothing balm with a nourishing blend of oils and butters. Their formula, made with Coconut Oil, instantly melts onto lips, providing a cushion of soothing moisture. With antioxidants, including Lemon Butter, the Kiehl’s lip treatment provides year-round protection for lips. I can attest that lips feel and look softer, smoother and moisturised, and stay hydrated for up to 12 hours after application.
To go another step up, the Buttermask provides an overnight treatment, which intensively sets to work on repairing any cracks in your lips. Infused with Fairly Traded Coconut Oil and Wild Mango Butter, this overnight treatment for dry lips smoothes and softens while you sleep. It helps repair the lip moisture barrier to visibly restore lips, nourishes lips with intense hydration for soft, supple lips by morning and is generally a pleasure to have around.
Now that is enough to make Mona Lisa smile…