I love the look of lipstick, but I don’t know if I can pull it off with my tiny lips. My top lip is basically nonexistent, and the bottom is not much better. Some people say you can use lip liner to make your lips look bigger, but I’m scared that will make me look like a clown. (Also, in case this is relevant, I’m working with a LOW budget.) —Claire, Brisbane, Australia
NO ONE thinks they can pull off lipstick. I hear the same exact thing from people who have the opposite fear you do: “My lips are too big, so I can’t wear lipstick without looking like a clown!” However: Lipstick is just about turning your mouth a different color and has nothing to do with size! I can also promise that no one is going to suddenly be like, “YO, WHAT’S THIS ALL ABOUT, THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN??” You can still look precisely like yourself in lipstick, just with a different shade of burger-slayer (aka mouth—I hate that the go-to descriptor is always kisser when we’ve got tons of other equally important stuff to do with that part of our faces).
Because you have that common “clown” fear, I’m going to demonstrate my variation on what some makeup heads—like Chanel, who wrote this great primer—call “my lips, but better,” which is about finding a lipstick that almost matches the natural color of your lips. I take issue with the “but better” part of that term—our lips are JUSS FINE as they are—but when I want to exaggerate mine so very slightly in a way that looks “natural,” here’s what I do to enhance the extant color and shape of my lips. Try this out and the only thing you’ll have in common with clowns is that you both know magic tricks.
First, find a liner in a browny pink that’s like two shades darker than the lips you were born with. For me, the perfect shades are Wet N Wild’s Color Icon Liner in Brandywine (which costs two puny dollars), NYX Cosmetics’ Slim Lip Pencil in Nectar ($3.50!), and Sephora’s Nano Lip Liner in Cute Caramel. The last one is a bit more expensive at $5, but if you go that way, you might be able to double up for free: Fancy, deluxe lip liner samples are so frequently a Sephora free gift because EVERYONE IS SCARED OF THIS PRODUCT. So go ahead and capitalize on the fear of others if you can! (This is the only time in life that I will give you that advice, so take advantage of it.)
Next, pick a lipstick or a heavily pigmented gloss that’s just barely lighter than your liner, but still darker than your actual lips. I like Burt’s Bees’ Lip Shimmer in Fig ($5), and Maybelline’s Colorsensational Lipcolor in Tinted Taupe (they’re on sale for $0.79 plus $3 shipping at that link, so probably get on that). You can also knock out both products in one—and save some guap—by getting a matte lip pencil or crayon, like NYX’s Jumbo Lip Pencil ($4.50), with which you can both line and color in your zones. Plus, if you’re nervous about matching your colors up right (I fucked this up soooo grievously, for soooo long), all-in-one pencils totally ameliorate that problem!
Draw an X with the liner (or your lip pencil) in the center of your top lip. Extend the upper spokes of the X just a mite past the peaks of your cupid’s bow. (The cupid’s bow, or tubercle, is the little dip in the center of your top lip and the two little hillocks on either side of it. See what I mean in the picture below?) Not everyone’s cupid’s bow is super pronounced; just follow the lines of your own lips and don’t try to create something that isn’t there! (The bottom of the X isn’t really important—we’ll cover it up with lipstick later.)
Now, take the tip of your index finger and gently prod the edges of your lips. Can you feel that slightly raised line that goes all the way around them, but is the color of your face-skin? Starting on either side of the X, trace a thin line along that invisible lip-border, JUST outside the pinker part of your mouth. Stop before you hit the wet corners where your lips meet—product tends to look weirdly out of place there if you’re trying to do a subdued lip-situation.
Stretch your mouth into the biggest, flattest open-mouthed grimace-smile you’re capable of. This is the most clownish we’ll be throughout this process, pinky swear—it’ll just help you see what you’re doing a little better. Starting just below the corners that we didn’t line a second ago, draw along the outskirts of your lip. Stick tight to the pinkish parts of your mouth—there should be no face-colored skin between your line and your lips.
Fill that shit in with some lipstick. Voilà. Your fearsome jaws look sick as heaven. —Amy Rose
I recently dyed my hair a blue-green color like Kylie Jenner’s. Unlike Kylie’s hair, mine looks frizzy and dull. Is there anything I can use to make my hair look healthy again (that won’t strip the color from my hair)? —Áine, 14, Waxhaw, NC
While hair dye can damage hair, what dries it out way more is the bleach you probably used to get your hair light enough to get that blue-green color to show up. Bleaching strips your hair of its natural moisture, so you need to continually dump moisture onto it, via hair masks and oils, on top of making sure the color looks the way you want it to. Ah, the wages of beauty!
Color washes out, yes, but if you add more every time you wash it, it won’t matter. I suggest you use Overtone, a color-depositing conditioner, whenever you take a shower. I use Overtone for my bright-red hair, and it looks freshly dyed all the time. If you don’t want to spring for a new product, just mix a teensy drop of your hair dye into a sulfate-free conditioner and use that as you normally would. (Products with sulfates in them—e.g., most shampoos and conditioners—will strip your color faster.)
Next: Go out and buy a tub of hair mask. I like products with Morrocan oil or argan oil, but this hair stylist I know recently suggested I also just use straight-up cholesterol as a hair mask and he’s a genius, so listen to him. —Arabelle