My Reluctant Return To Lip Liner
Raise your hand if you owned MAC Spice Lip Liner in the 1990s. Me too. I also had pencils in pink, peach, red and plum—a rainbow of colors to match whatever lipstick I was wearing. Then, around the turn of the millennium, we all stopped wearing lipstick and started swiping on gloss. Which rendered lip liner kind of obsolete—unless you wanted that ring-around-your-lips look when your gloss faded. (P.S. No one I knew wanted that look.)
But in the past year, lip liner and I have become reacquainted. The rekindling began when my Fresh Lip Treatment in Petal started migrating south of my lower lip. (Yes, I've moved on from gloss and now gravitate mostly to tinted balms and sheer lipsticks). Then, I wore red lipstick to a holiday party, and it bled into the tiny spokes (that’s euphemistic for the fine lines) around my mouth.
So, the next time I was interviewing my friend Tim Quinn, Giorgio Armani Beauty’s celebrity makeup artist, for a story, I snuck in a question about my runaway lipcolor. His solution: “Just use a lip liner the same shade as your lips to trace the perimeter of your mouth—it holds color in like a fence,” he suggested. Duh. I knew this. I’d even gotten my mother one of those clear, waxy lip liners a few years back when she started to complain of this very same problem. But the issue had snuck up on me. I was all concerned about runny lipcolors—when the real issue was my skin and its increasing dryness.
You see, the reason lipstick bleeds on us is three-fold. 1. Because skin gets drier after 40, many of us (myself included) are compelled to slather on layer after layer of lip balm. And while this certainly makes lips feel better, all that lubrication also makes it tough for lip color to actually adhere to lip skin. Thus, within minutes of application, most color will start slip-sliding away. 2. Our lips shrink a bit with age, leaving us with less real estate for color application. Combine this with far-sightedness (if you don't need reading glasses yet, consider yourself lucky), and a number of us are probably coloring a little outside the lines from the get-go. 3. At a certain age, the faint spokes that appear around your mouth when you kiss or drink through a straw don't totally disappear when your lips are relaxed. And those shallow creases create little beds for your lip color to run like a river.
Thus, I’ve tweaked my lipcolor routine. I now own two nudey-pink lipliners (one is just slightly deeper than the other), as well as one of those waxy, clear ones, all from Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide On Lip Pencil collection: Walk of Shame, Naked, and Ozone. I use them sparingly, feathering the pencil tip just outside my lips, which Tim told me helps makes your lips look a little fuller—but not in a fake way. (It also gives us wiggle room when we fill them in.) Because the lip pencil colors are so subtle, you can barely see them (and the clear one, of course, you literally cannot see), but they do act like little dams and have helped minimize my color migration. I’ve also stopped applying lip balm right before lip color. Instead, I scribble on the lip pencil, dab on my lipcolor—then tap balm on top. This gives me hydrating comfort—sans creep.