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Frances Winston’s guide to the perfect pout.

The lips are one of the most erogenous areas of the body, with a perfect pout at the top of most women’s cosmetic wish list. Women have gone to great lengths in the quest for an Angelina Jolie-like bee stung look, although some have been more successful than others. Recently engaged model and businesswoman Elizabeth Hurley has noticeably fuller lips now than she did during her first ever infamous red carpet appearance at the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral when she famously sported “that dress”. However, Men Behaving Badly star Leslie Ash’s trout pout woes have become the stuff of legend. Irrespective of the success (or lack of) of their methods though, the one thing their lips have in common with all other women’s is that they are one of the most exposed parts of the body.

Although the mouth can be a vital tool in a man hunt, with few guys able to resist a full-on glossy pout as their mind wanders imagining what you could do with it, many of us are shamelessly abusing our lips.

Aside from being constantly under siege from the elements your lips also have to suffer the wear and tear of all the food and drink that passes over them. Is it any wonder they can be prone to dryness and flaking? While we all have a proper skincare routine, it often doesn’t include our lips but it shouldn’t take a huge amount of adaptation to ensure that you are treating your pout with the tlc it deserves.

Firstly, it is important to exfoliate to get rid of dry, dead and flaky skin. While there are specialist lip exfoliants available on the market one of the easiest and most economical ways to do this is to use the humble toothbrush. Run it over your lips and the bristles will scrub away those dead skin cells.

Of course this alone won’t be enough to create the perfect pout. It is also necessary to moisturise regularly. There are literally thousands of lip balms on the market but you don’t have to break the bank. Petroleum Jelly is ridiculously cheap but is a tried and tested effective lip balm. Whichever balm you choose though, remember that your lips are exposed to exactly the same elements as your face and can be prone to sunburn so always ensure you use an SPF exactly as you would on your face.

If you smoke, chances are that you have fine lines on and surrounding your lips (another good reason to quit). These not only look unattractive but lip colour can also bleed into them giving you a “smudged” look. While you can have chemical fillers injected into this area this can be costly and isn’t for the squeamish. As an alternative, why not try one of the numerous lip plumping formulations on the market. These often leave your lips tingling, which is perfectly normal, and will help to plump up the skin on and around the lips, disguising the fine lines temporarily. Even if you don’t have fine lines these can be useful for helping to achieve that bee-stung look.

Another trick for disguising these lines is to use a “filler”. These usually come in pen form and the idea is that you “draw” them along lines and wrinkles and the product settles in the space, giving the illusion that the lines are gone. You can wear make-up over these and there are plenty on the market to choose from.

Once you’ve got luscious lips the question then is what to put on them. Lip-liner goes in and out of fashion but most make-up artists recommend using it to define the shape before filling in your lip colour. Whatever you do, steer clear of the 80s trend for dark lip-liner with light lipstick; lip-liner should either be a nude shade or the same colour as your lip colour.

With so many lip colours and formulations on the market it is impossible to advise what any individual should wear as it is pretty much a trial and error process. However there are a few basic rules that should be followed. When choosing a colour make sure you take into account your skin tone, your outfit and the other make-up you’ll be wearing. As a general guide, either eyes or lips should be highlighted – not both. If you’re doing a smoky, heavy eye go with a neutral lip and vice versa. Beige and brown shades tend to suit everyone and are great for daywear while reds come in both cool and warm tones and which one you choose is very dependant on your natural colouring. It’s also helpful to note that a deep cool red can make your teeth look whiter while a red with orange or pink tones can make teeth look more yellow.

While it’s best to veer away from make-up “tricks” on lips, as there’s a fine line between mistress of illusion and a clown, there is one tried and tested technique that can be used to enhance any pout. Apply a dab of slightly lighter colour to the middle of your bottom lip as this will catch the light and by default give the illusion of fuller lips.

After all that effort it almost seems a shame to undo all your good work eating, drinking and snogging!

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