Devi Beauty: Lip Service

Monday, November 17, 2008

Welcome to Devi-Beauty-Week! Enough about the economy, forget doom and gloom, to hell with Proust. This week we are going to focus on putting our best faces forward, and working with what we have--namely ourselves, and our make-up bags. Who among us can't afford to look a little bit more put together? And how many times have you come back from Macy's or Walgreens, amped about a new lipstick or eyeshadow, images of the vixen/sexpot/angel version of yourself dancing in your head--only to try on said product and see that the color, consistency or over-all effect is completely wrong for you? Make-up can be transformative. It can be a passport to wonderful lands such as Faked-High-Cheekbones-stan and the island of Perfect-Complexion. It can make you stand up taller and feel more confident. But it can also be a huge question mark, especially when the vast majority of the products we see on tv, in magazines, and in the aisles of Sephora just don't suit Devi needs. So here, part one of Devi Week-o-Style: Let's pay some lip-service to our lips.

PREP


Like everything make-up related, a well-executed lip begins with a clean, smooth canvas. We forget our lips are skin and, just like our knees an elbows, they need to be exfoliated in order to get rid of the dead skin cells that tend to build-up over time. Many brown women have problems with "black" lips, or lips that tend to go from a natural pinkish color to a deeper, brown color. This "blackness" is often the result of built-up dead skin, so exfoliation can ameliorate the problem. (You can also try putting a thin layer of foundation over your lips, before putting any color on them, to lessen the darkness). Now, please, please: Don't go using the exfoliating products you use on your body on your lips--they are way too abrasive for the sensitive skin. Instead, twice a week, use a toothbrush (dipped in either water or water and a little bit of sugar) to gently brush over your lips, starting at the lip line and moving towards the center. If you aren't seeing softer, pinker lips, try this at-home treatment once a week: Put Vaseline or Aquaphor on your lips and massage gently with a nubby washcloth for 2 minutes. Afterwards, put another layer of Vaseline on before you to go sleep.

BEGINNER: LIP BALM, LIP GLOSS, and SHEER LIPSTICK


We're moms and we're busy. This is our mantra and I am sure some of us have it emblazoned on t-shirts. We don't have time for a 12 step makeup ritual in the morning. That's why many of us are Chapstick addicts. Well--that's why, in part. Some of us may ACTUALLY be addicted to lip balm, and it's not our fault. Many many lip products contain "phenol" an antiseptic that actually strips the upper layer of skin off of the lips. With this layer gone, you constantly feel like you "need" more of the lip treatment in question to get that supple feeling on your lips. The biggest perpetrator of this heinous crime is Carmex--a fact that truly breaks my heart, since I am never without at least 9 tubes of the stuff. Check the active ingredient: phenol. I am currently trying to wean myself off Carmex. It is not easy, and I feel like I am losing a best friend (or 9), but I have found some solace in this Nivea lip balm with SPF. I'm also doing a trial-run of this product from Tarte, which seems genius--a moisturizer and an exfoliator in one. I have only been using it for a week, but if I fall in love I will report back. Make sure your lip balm is phenol-free Devis!

I get the Chapstick brigade I really do--but tell me you haven't looked at photos of yourself with some lip color, versus without, and realized how much more polished you look. Sheer lipsticks are just as low-maintenance as chapstick but make it seem like you actually have a "look." The key is finding the right sheer for us Devis, because we tend to have darker lips and many sheers have so little pigment that they are essentially just Chapstick in fancy tubes. The hands-down best sheers I have found are from a little cult brand called "Lipstick Queen," created by Poppy Montgomery. This woman loves lipstick and understands women--which is why she has two lines of products: Sinners, with rich, 90% opaque coverage, and Saints, which are sheer with 10% color saturation. Both lines are luxuriously moisturizing in addition to being beautiful (thus helping me with my Carmex problems. Damn you Carmex.) "Berry" and "Wine" are my favorites of the bunch...and if you are my family, don't worry about buying these, you will be getting them for Christmas...!

EXPERT: LIPSTICK

Ah the full-on lipsticked mouth. The shellacked pout that greets us from glossy magazines and billboards alike. The close-up images of deep, lush tubes of magic pigmented bullets in jewel-box-like packaging. There is a reason Ben Stiller said that men have girlie mags and women have lipstick porn. We love the stuff, don't we? I've already given you my picks on the best reds for Devis (and update: I would now like to add Lipstick Queen Saint in Rouge to that list), but, Mad-Men fantasies aside, even I know that red lips, especially on a Devi, are not for every occasion. The best general advice I can give is to go to any department store and try on a bunch of lipsticks. Brands I have found that work well on our skin include: Bobbi Brown, Nars, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Every brand will have accompanying lip liner pencils, and they are worth the investment, mostly because they (1) define your lips; and (2) lock and load your lipstick, so that you aren't worrying all night whether it is running amok on your face. If the buiyng of coordinated lip liners for lipsticks is too much trouble, try a clear lip liner--it will prevent your color from bleeding and it works with every single lipstick you have.

One of the many lip products not worth our money? Lipstick brushes. I have heard every possible attempt to sell me these (and I have buckled before) but all the hooks and lines ("they ensure a smoother application," "they will make the shade last longer") have amounted to, ahem, lip service in my case. Save the $30 and buy another lipstick.

In terms of general color palette, obviously there is a cornucopia of shades available so let's focus on the no-nos: We should stay away from nudes, beiges, overly matte browns. Devi skin tends to get a little "ashy", which just means that when dead skin builds up on people with more pigment in their skin, the over-all skin tone becomes less bright. So-called "natural" lip colors have the effect of washing out our skin even more and, honestly, are not "natural" on Devis unless you consider cadavors "natural."

Like I said, you have to experiment with lipsticks. Plums, wines and deep reds work well on most Devis but, obviously, these are just labels which each contain an entire spectrum of shades. Ten thousand disclaimers aside, here are my top 3 current favorite lipsticks, which have been tried and tested on Devis of all shades:

Nars Vitamin-E Rich Lipstick in Tamango




YSL in Legendary Mocha




None of these lipsticks is overly shiny or overly matte. I find the overly matte look too severe for many Devi features, and shine I keep for special occasions. But those occasions do of course arise and, for extra shine, I turn to one of my favorite wonder-products. This lip gloss duo from Cargo can work like the Poppy Montgomery sheer lipsticks for daily use, but can also be layered on top of almost any more-pigmented lipstick you wear (including all of the three above), to give you glossiness without that my-lips-are-a-candy-cane effect (MAC lipglass anyone? I'm sorry, I know many people love it but doesn't your hair constantly get stuck in it? Death to MAC lipglass...). Apply a little bit of these glosses in the middle of your lips, either alone or over a lipstick, smack your lips and shine away Devis.

Any favorite lipsticks, lip glosses, or lip treatments you would like to share, Devis? Our favorite recommendation wins one of these Cargo lip gloss duos in "Santa Anna"!
Leave your recommendation in the comment section and we will announce the winner on Friday. Have a BEAUTIFUL week...

Next Up: The Eyes Take All...
27 comments:
Sheetal said...

WOW this is amazing! my rec: Aquaphor. For lip gloss, over lipstick, even on eyelids to make eye shadow pop.

Uma said...

Please, please PLEASE say it ain't so? About Carmex? I am not joking, I turn around and go home if I have forgotten a tube of Carmex. Is there a phenol-free version? This is serious!

Okay my suggestions: Clinique Black Honey. It is a "sheer" I think, from your description above, but as you layer it more it provides more color. It is fantastic on Indian skin.

This post is the best post on lipstick for Indians I've ever read! But are you SURE about Carmex???

Anonymous said...

What about Indian brands? Lakme and whatnot?

Jasmine said...

Hi! I have little black spots on my lips and am going to try the exfoliating, but any other tips? I got them after I was pregnant so I am wondering if they are hormonal?

My favorite lip treatment: Chanel. I don't know what they are called but they come in these sparkly tubes and they look really bright in the tube but go onto my skin (I am a darker Indian) in a really subtle way.

nali said...

Burt's Bees has great lip products that are all natural. I use this religiously.

http://www.burtsbees.com/

Anonymous said...

I exfoliated my lips last night! I've been using this once or twice a week... http://www.marykay.com/skincare/lipeyecare/10998000/10998000/default.aspx

I use the balm every night before bed.

Awesome post! I'll have to try out some of those colors!

Paipai said...

I am going to disagree about the lip brush for this reason: You can make an intensely pigmented lipstick more sheer by applying it with a lip brush. I do this with Nars Timbuktu.

reena said...

lip brushes are a waste of money--use a qtip for a more refined line, or for anything else anyone tells you you need a lip brush for. My favorite treatment is fresh brown sugar lip balm--exfoliates just enough and smells amazing. Definitely going to check out this lipstick queen stuff!

desiaynrand said...

Have any of you devis tried Vasanti Cosmetics? amazing color for women of color...they are online and while based in Canada, will ship to the US. Also, don't wear lipstick much (damn you Carmex - i was so faithful to you and this is how you repay me?) but Custom Color has a good multiple color pack (i get the warm tone- good selection for devis)

Anonymous said...

Let us know when the devi fashion and beauty book comes out! I wish I knew this stuff earlier! We wouldn't have to look at hundreds of painful high school photos with all of rocking the mahogany lip liner...

I love this blog and have started reading it religiously as part of my morning rounds. Any reason why the number of posts have gone down? I used to see at least one post from each of you (obviously, I'm a little obsessed!). We need more not less! Hopefully the baby part of the devis with babies aren't keeping the posts to a minimum...?

amra said...

great article! My biggest lip issue is the fact that my top lip is we than my bottom. I have seen many desis with this issue...any insight as to what causes it and how to fix it?

vinita said...

that nivea lip balm is the bomb, it used to only be available on Europe! I want free cargo stuff! I have two secret lip treatments: first, I use my eye cream on my lips at night. Super moisturizing. Second, I use a lightening agent on the skin around my lips. Ever notice how desks tend to get much darker skin on their upper lips??

amra said...

sorry! I meant my top lip is much lighter than my bottom. I am bad at sneaking blog commenting at work!

sbs said...

Ohhh I've been wondering about vasanti. Desiaynrand (!), do you know of anywhere samples are available?

Rani said...

fun topic! For a nice lip gloss that isn't sticky try Fresh Lip Shine in 'aster' and a good all around lipstick for me is Bobbi Brown 'raisin berry'.

Lilu said...

Vinita, I totally have the same issue around my mouth--darker skin. What is a "lightening agent"?

blackmamba said...

any truth in this

http://baktoo.blogspot.com/2008/11/kissing-is-bad-for-health.html

also, any tips on blending colors?

I usually have to get a berry-ish or fig color and blend it with a bit of pink before I am satisfied.

Uma said...

I had heard this before, blackmamba. According to this, it is a fiction: http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/l/lipstick.htm . But, hmmm, I do wonder if, just to be safe, there are lipsticks and makeup that other devis know that are completely lead-free?

Anonymous said...

not true--but not completely false either: http://www.hoax-slayer.com/lead-lipstick.html

Tani said...

Ok, I am in shock about the Carmex, I really am. Not happy.

I will be happier if I win the Cargo. My absolute favorite lip treatment is Philosophy Hope in a Tube Eye and Lip Cream. Similar formula to Philosophy "Hope in a Jar" moisturizer that everyone (including the big O--I mean Oprah, not Obama!) loves, but even more indulgent, rich, emmolient. I promise, try it.

Why Carmex why?!?!?!?

Meena said...

To respond to blackmamba, I actually think blending is the key to making lipstick work on me (medium skin tone, Indian). And I have a great trick: Get a cheapie little "palette" from any drugstore and blend the old nubs of your old lipsticks together in them. You'll be amazed, the combo of all your old lipsticks will--I bet you--add up to one fabulous color! Perhaps there is a business venture brewing here amongst us Devis!

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deepa said...

Wow Devis, you guys have some great tips! Sorry to the legion of Carmex fanatics out there--while I hate to rain on your lip balm parade, it's better to know the truth than be in the dark, no?? (For what it's worth I still secret snort, I mean, apply Carmex...working on it).

Jasmine, Amra and Lilu--look out for posts in the future on hyperpigmentation and dark spots on our skin--there is a whole arsenal of topical solutions to these problems.

Blackmamba--I am on the hunt for some good instruction on how to properly blend lipsticks together. I personally like to blend a color with a "warm" base (think browns) with something that packs more of a punch (like something with shimmer that I wouldn't want to wear on its own). I also find blending super helpful for the lipsticks I buy but don't love--while they may not be great stand-alone options, they definitely have utility in our blending arsenals. Love the idea of using a drugstore palette for this, Meena.

Thanks so much for all the tips, ladies. Check in Friday to see who wins the Cargo lip gloss. And keep your favorites coming!

deepa said...

P.s. Desiaynrand--Look out for a whole feature on Vasanti cosmetics very soon!

kimberly said...

when i notice my lips dry i have to find a solution soon like to wear a lips balm, because my lips can lose the smoothness, even the natural colour because of the dead skin or dry and try to keep my skin young always.
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katty said...

I prefer to use a balm lip when i feel my lips dry. i think the smoothless of our skin is very important most of all our lips that is a erotic part. i take care very much my image specially when i have an important meeting that i had recently in

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