Retro Rerun: Lips: Beautiful, Never Beastly

| Aug 28, 2017

After blusher, poorly-placed, poorly-considered lipstick is one of the most common screw-ups for male-to-female transgender folks. But we’re talking about make-up here, not the population explosion. We can fix this problem right away.

As usual, let me start with a personal bias: lipliner.

Unless you are really sure that your lipliner is close to or identical to your lipstick, toss it. Nothing screams “Campy Drag Queen!” or “no class beginner!” louder than lipliner that visibly outlines a person’s mouth. If you must use a pencil go about a half shade darker than your normal color. But instead of a lipliner, invest in a good lip brush, which you will use to outline your lips with your regular lipstick.

Look at the graphic to the right See the line from the inside rim of the iris down to the corners of her mouth. This is the ideal width for your lips. No color should extend beyond this point.

Dab a little color on your brush and start in the middle of your lower lip and line outward to the corners. Repeat on top. Fill in with your lip brush.

Most of us have more than enough lip (take that any way you want!) to simply outline the limits of our lips and head on out. But if you do have smallish or thin lips you can add a little to the upper and lower boundaries to make them a bit bigger, but watch it! You can get into Bozo the Clown land mighty quickly when you do this and taking off extra lipstick almost always requires re-applying your foundation, powder, etc., etc. around your mouth and it can be hard to get a match again.

There are better ways to give your lips more fullness and they’re more fun too.

Gimme Some Lip Fixes

Remember in previous articles how we’ve talked about using chiaroscuro, or modeling with light and dark, to get special effects? Well, you can do that with lips too.

I happen to have rather thin lips, but I’ve learned how dangerous it can be to try and make up for that with larger boundaries. Instead, I use a base shade over my lips and then place a lighter, but coordinated color on that in the center of my lower and upper lip. Lighter objects seem to come forward so this makes my lips look a little poutier.

I also admit to using a little gloss in these same spots to draw away from that curse of the Baby Boomers: crinkly lips. I admit to being a member of this generation (but that’s all I’ll admit. . .) and dang it, I have some crinkles in my lips now. Well, one advantage of being a geezer is that people don’t mind if you have a little more makeup on. They’re all looking at the 25-year-olds anyway.

Take some clear lip gloss, or use a glossy color close to your base, and put that over your lips to blind any snoop who wants to find your crinkles (notice how I’m cleverly avoiding the dreaded “w” word?). At all costs, never wear matte lipstick.

You’ve got thick lips? Your best bet with these is to use a darker shade. Depending on your palette you should avoid bright or very pastel pinks. Yes, I know you loved how those California girls used white lipstick in those beach flicks. But trust me, if you go too light you’re going to look more like Mick Jagger than Linda Evans.

Unless you are very unusual, eventually your lipstick will “bleed” out past your lip line, often up or down a wrinkle. Lipliner will not prevent this. While I rarely endorse products, but there is one that I whole heartedly recommend for this annoyance: Coty’s Stop-It. It should cost less than $5, you can find it in a good drugstore and it lasts a long, long time. [Editor’s Note: Stop-It has likely been discontinued. You can check the Coty website.] Just follow the directions on the package.

Putting on lipstick is always the last thing I do and once its on, I try not to futz with it again. A good quality lipstick should last for hours and should require no more than a quick touch up after a meal or drink.

And please, please, don’t touch up your lipstick or any makeup at your table or in public view. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being a little low-rent sometimes, but that’s going too far. . . .

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Category: How To, Makeup, Opinion

About cindymartin: I am one of the original co-founders of TGForum, which obviously was a long time ago now. I'm very proud of how it's changed and improved. It's great. Kudos to all. I'm not nearly as active as I once was, but I still really enjoy the life, and from time to time I'll share some tips and ideas for improving your feminine self.

Comments (1)

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  1. carlaroberts says:

    Love these tips, as I have made so many mistakes in application and choice of colors and brands hoping to find the right look. I personally feel naked with out lipstick, to complete my face. For years I was stuck using only one favorite color. Having been comfortable with that color and receiving compliments about my lips, from genetic females as well as other Trans women, I pretty much applied the same color over and over without much thought. Like many women, I had reached that point where makeup application was done out of habit.
    A big change, came as I was getting my hair done, and telling my stylist that I was attending a gala event. By the way I was not enfemme at the time, but she was very familiar with my preferred personna. She asked what I would be wearing, and I said black, with silver jewelry. She suggested I needed a change and I should try switch to a bright red. I resisted in fear I would draw too much attention to myself, and I was just a little beyond peering out of the closet at that point. She suggested a color that was bright red, and although I would love it, I just felt it would seem a bit provocative. The message from my stylist was “Change your outfit, change your lipstick color”.
    With a little help from a knowledgeable genetic woman (although this advice could have equally come from a Trans woman) and trusted source, I felt emboldened to branch out.
    Now I have an entire palette of different shades to chose from, and even though I often default to my old favorite, I delight in choosing a lipstick a different lipstick and complimentary liner.
    Funny how things happen, to provide validation, and give you a lift. Sometime later while visiting my stylist, she said she had a gift for me. By the way, I had shared pictures from the gala with her. The gift was a zippered makeup bag with lettered with, “I am especially fond of Bright Red Lipstick!
    And I am now and wear it proudly!

    Carla