I think the saying goes something like… Loose Lips Sink Ships! Of course, this isn’t meant in the literal sense, it is describing that person, lets face it we all know one, who cannot keep a secret. Someone who divulges too much information which can eventually become their undoing. But I like to think of it in the literal sense, our lips are our number one communicator both verbally and visually. It doesn’t always have to be what we say that gets us in trouble, it can be a look, a smile, or a smirk! Lips give everything away sometimes whether we want them to or not, they can even tell others about our health and our habits which means even when we can keep a secret, our lips cannot!
What Secrets do Lips Hide?
So, our lips are a key indicator to our overall health, if they aren’t right, then usually this means something isn’t right. We all know our own bodies better than anybody so when something is off, even as small as our lips, we can spot it a mile off. The good thing is, using lip health as an indicator makes it easier to find out what is wrong as the signs for various ailments are crystal clear. They are fantastic at warning us that something isn’t quite right and means we are a step ahead so we can do something about it.
Dry and Chapped Lips
This is usually nothing too serious and, in most cases, just means you are dehydrated. Skin on the lips is actually so much thinner than that on the rest of our face. With between three and five cellular layers (the rest of the skin on our face having typically up to sixteen!) the skin can be so thin and in fair or light skin especially, lacking in pigment which causes the blood vessels to be more visible. So if you ever wondered where lips get their pink hue from… there you have it! Lips don’t have sweat glands either, so they massively lack in the area of producing oils. No one is happy when they have oily skin but it is does serve a purpose, and when that’s one major thing the lips lacks, it goes hand in hand with dehydration! So instead of reaching for the lip balm, grab yourself a bottle of water and take sips throughout the day. Problem solved!
Whatever happens when your lips are feeling a little dry or chapped, and no matter how tempting it is DO NOT LICK YOUR LIPS! It is a common misconception that saliva is wet therefore must be hydrating. This is so wrong as our saliva contains salts and other enzymes that remain on the lips when the water in the saliva evapourates. This then restarts the cycle of dry lips and the need to lick them. It might not cause any damage instantly but over time you will start to experience even sore lips and stubborn cracks that may be harder to repair.
It can be a temporary thing, or it can last over a longer term. Initially lips that have changed colour in full or in part may not be anything of concern, it could be simply you have consumed too much of something unhealthy, alcohol consumption or even too much sun exposure. But usually this kind of discolouration will go hand in hand with dry lips and again can fall mostly down to dehydration. If you notice lips change colour with no other apparent issues, it can be a warning that something else is going on, it could be hormonal, to do with medication you are taking or an underlying health issue. So remember to listen to the warning your lips are telling you and if concerned go and get this checked out for peace of mind.
Now this may not be anything to be worried about, paleness can usually be seen in our skin when we are not well, when we haven’t been outside in the sunshine for a long period of time, or even when we haven’t been eating properly. It can also be a vitamin deficiency. So if you experience pale lips, its time to re-evaluate your diet and make sure you have a balance of vitamins and minerals that promote healthy blood flow and cell growth renewal. If this doesn’t improve your lip colour after you have gotten over a bout of illness, again it is best to get checked out for peace of mind.
Everyone’s least favourite. Cold sores are the result of the herpes virus. You may start with that tell-tale tingling or acute stinging in the spot where the cold sore will form at the edge of your lip. Unfortunately they can hit at any time but the good thing is there are lots of topical creams and antiviral lotions that can hit cold sores where they hurt before they break out. If you are unluckily prone to cold sores then you will know it isn’t usually a sign of anything serious, but perhaps that you have just started to get over a cold or illness or maybe that your triggers were too tempting, for example excessive amounts of time in the sun, certain foods or drinks and again that good old lack of H2o and hydration. I think we are starting to see a pattern here!
Swollen and tender lips
This is usually a sign of an allergic reaction. It is a really obvious warning sign and should be treated seriously. Help should be sought if this is the case as swelling can spread and cause difficulty breathing. As much as we would all love plumped up lips, this isn’t the way to go so definitely listen to what your lips are telling you on this one and take action straight away.
So our lips can tell us an awful lot about our physical health and serve as a great reminder to drink some water or lay off the salty foods! So please listen to them as they have a lot to tell you.
What do Healthy Lips Look Like?
Healthy lips generally speaking should be a nice pink colour, but dependent on skin tone this colour may vary. You know your lips better than anybody and you can recognise when something has changed so pay attention to the colour and make sure that they are still rich in the colour you have always known. Lips should look moist without looking like they are dripping wet and should have a smooth texture from top to bottom. We all know lips can come in different sizes, some thin, some thick, some wide and some round but their daily condition should not change dramatically no matter what their shape or size. If you start to develop dryness and cracks in winter, it is something we can all say we have gone through and they will just need some TLC to get them back in to shape after being out in the elements. If they are dry and sore after a long summer holiday, they are most likely sunburned and need to be restored back to health carefully, so you don’t cause anymore damage. Lips will not hide this secret, so it is important you do something about sunburn to prevent more damage and more secrets spilled!
How to Get Your Lips to Stay Quiet
They are clear as day for everyone to see so we all want our lips to turn heads for the right reasons. And there are simple steps we can all follow to make sure lips are healthy. This is more about damage control and things you can do to make sure you are doing the basics for lips to look their best. We’ll get onto the good stuff later!
First and most important and I will keep saying it, DRINK WATER! Your body requires water to regulate its temperature and allows you to sweat to keep cool as well as flushing through toxins and carrying important nutrients to different parts of the body. Your lips are no different. They need hydrating to keep cells regenerating, to keep moisture travelling around and regulate their temperature. When your lips start feeling dry, go and get yourself a big glass of the good stuff, and no, I don’t mean wine!
Which brings me on to my second point, avoid alcohol! Now, I know it can be impossible to resist that nice glass of wine with dinner, or a crisp gin & tonic on a summery afternoon so I can’t say avoid it completely but remember everything in moderation only. Alcohol is another one of those dehydrating goodies and it can be a trigger in cold sores if you are a sufferer as well as causing an imbalance in the body’s natural PH levels. If you are already feeling the effects of dry or sore lips, alcohol will definitely not help matters so it is best to steer clear until you feel good again.
Keep your mouth covered in winter and protected during summer. In winter the cold air is not as good as holding moisture as the warm air, so that’s why you find on a cool wintery day, your lips start to dry out and even shrivel up slightly. Covering them up in the first place should help you avoid this problem but if you find you are already in the thick of it, it may be time to invest in a good lip balm that will keep lips moist and protected without locating them completely so they can’t get any air!
In summer, the destructive UV rays of the sun can cause more damaged to our skin and lips than we even realise at first. We don’t usually feel or see the damage until later on when the sun has gone down, and we hop in the shower. It will start with a tingly and sore sensation, potentially some mild swelling too, then before you know it… sunburn all over. Lips should be protected using a balm that is high in SPF and should be applied at least 30 minutes before going into he sun, and then throughout the day. You’ll be left with a nice shine and smooth lips all evening long.
Try different lip balms or petroleum jelly based balms that work for you. You may find that different balms don’t give your lips the hydration and moisture you need and some balms that are scented or contain fragrances can irritate certain skin. The last thing you want is to keep applying it thinking you are doing your lips wonders and then in a few weeks time, find out they are even drier than before.
So there are the basics in lip care. Follow those steps and your lips should be kept quiet for a little while. They may seem like quite obvious hints now that you have seen the logic behind them, especially when most of it comes down to hydration, but you will be forgiven for thinking you have been doing the right thing by exposing them to sunlight or switching to caffeinated drinks.
Aesthetically Pleasing Lips
Once you have mastered the art of figuring our what works for your own lips and what doesn’t, you can start to think long-term and even bigger improvements. Think about when its time to re-decorate the house, everything can be functional and look just fine, but it feels like the look has grown a little stale and could do with a little spruce or injection of colour to brighten things up. When it comes to aesthetics, our mood can be instantly lifted by having some new furniture to look at or by adding a lick of paint, so why can this not apply to our lips? The answer is it can!
Our mood, stress levels and lack of enthusiasm for our appearance can actually be one of the factors that makes our skin look duller, our lips seem dryer and lack-lustre and our hair to fall flat. There are no rules when it comes to what we can do cosmetically to enhance our features and there are a lot of options now to enhance them surgically, so lips are always an easy target for both. And why not? If our mood is better and stress levels lower, we start to feel better in our own physical health and are therefore more motivated to keep being healthy so we stay in the best shape we can.
There are basically three things to consider if you want to enhance your lips:
- Do you want to enhance your lips subtly (non-invasive)?
- Do you want to enhance your lips temporarily (cosmetically)?
- Do you want to enhance your lips permanently (surgically)?
In exploring these options, you may come across information that can be confusing and if you are looking for something of a more permanent nature, it is always best to seek consultation from a trained surgeon who can recommend whether it will work for you. If your lips are already quite thin, then you may not be able to achieve a fuller lip without ending up with a duck-like pout! If you don’t want your lips to spill your secrets, then this is definitely not the way to go, as it can look quite obvious that they have been enhanced.
So, lets look at the basics for now…
- You want to improve your lips’ appearance subtly and without any procedures, so its time to consider what it is about your lips that you want to look different. Is it colour? Is it size? Is it definition? Or is it just so they look healthy and shiny every day?
Well colour and definition are quite easy to solve; liners and lipsticks are really advanced these days so they have staying power without compromising your health. Look for a good lipstick with moisturisers that can be easily washed off with cleaners and water. The longer lasting lipsticks can coat your lips, preventing air or oils from getting in and can then cause a bout of dryness when removed.
Look for a tutorial on how to line your lips properly, you don’t want to go overboard and end up with a different shade to your lipstick and end up with lips so overly defined that it looks like a face-paint competition. All lips are different shapes and sizes, but sometimes with clever overlining and matching shades, you can make your lips appear fuller with no risk. It is definitely worth a try before you go for anything surgical so you can get a good picture of what your lips will look like enhanced.
Balms are available that have the ability to instantly plump your lips, such as Xlips Instant Lip Plumping Balm. It is filled with natural ingredients and plant extracts that make your lips tingle, waking up the blood vessels to give you a plumper pout instantly and will last a few hours. This is great for boosting confidence and also keeping your lip size a secret so you can wear it without anyone knowing your little trick to bigger lips.
You want to look into temporary lip fillers. These injections are placed very carefully by somebody trained in the field and can increase the volume of your lips and even smooth out unwanted lines to give your lips the full and smooth appearance you have always desired. Good fillers will last between 6-12 months before dissolving naturally. But of course, any procedure carries risk and you will need to make sure you carefully take care of that newly plumped pout after the fillers to keep the hydration and moisture going through them. Look for an intensive care balm that is safe to use with fillers, that provides your lips with the moisture they need that fillers take away.
The good thing is, after fillers, you are free again to play with your lip colour palette and enhance your lips even further. Afterall, this may not be a secret you want your lips to keep! Be proud of your enhanced features and show them off to the world with all the confidence!
You are looking for something more permanent that you don’t have to think about too much. Then maybe implants are what you are looking for. Consider into this that it requires stretching of the tissue to place them and may put a lot of strain on your lips. It also will require some recovery time of a few days while your lips settle down and for any bruising to disappear. Incisions will be made at the corners of the mouth the place the implants, and it is usually performed under local anaesthesia, so this one is definitely not for the squeamish. Make sure you seek proper consultation before getting the procedure done and again, keep your lips hydrated afterward. This kind of trauma can reduce moisture and you may need to work even harder to maintain that shiny and plump pout.
Implants are designed to give lips the look of extra fullness but are not designed to smooth other any wrinkles or lines so depending on what you want, they might not be the right enhancer for you. Removal of lip implants is another surgical procedure that can be performed but will again require some down-time and some extra TLC to keep the lips healthy.
Are Your Lips Keeping Your Secrets?
Now you know the options, and you know what basic things you can do to keep your lips looking and feeling healthy, its time to decide which enhancement route is for you. There are plenty of ways to make sure your lips look how you want them to, but it does involve a lot of dedication and nurturing if you want them to stay looking great. And above all, now you know what your lips are saying about you, treat them with care so you know they will only say positive things!