For years, we’ve assumed that when a man looks at a woman’s face, his gaze lingers on her eyes.
But now, we are told that the mouth is the really eye-catching part of the face . . . especially if its owner is wearing red lipstick.That won’t be news to anyone of either sex who has found themselves transfixed by an outstanding pout — say, the one belonging to Scarlett Johansson, or Angelina Jolie’s extraordinary, era-defining lips.
But now, it’s official: scientists at Manchester University used eye-tracking software to show that in the ten seconds after meeting a lady for the first time, the average chap will spend more than half that time looking at her mouth.
‘For centuries, women have painted their lips red to enhance their appeal,’ says Dr Geoff Beattie, who led the investigation. ‘The practice dates back as far as the Ancient Egyptians, who used red lipstick and rouge to enhance their attractiveness.
‘Our research suggests that red lips and perceived attractiveness are still inextricably linked, with red lipstick the most powerful attractor, and one that significantly increases visual fixation.’
The study also showed that whether women have thin lips or a perfect pout, those who wear lipstick secure much greater levels of attraction than those who do not.
So if you want to make an impression at a Christmas party, pucker up and follow our tips to make the most of your lips.
Perfect pouts: You can replicate the look of Scarlett Johansson
DRAW THE LINE
If you’re careful and have a steady hand with the lip-liner, you can define your lips to make them look fuller, says make-up artist Kay Montano, creative director of myfacecosmetics.com.
‘Use a lip-liner to subtly accentuate the lip-line just over the edge of your natural line, in exactly the same shade as your lips,’ she says. ‘If you’re fair, the myface hi-def lip pencil in Nude (£6.49, at Boots) is a good one to start with.’
It’s a simple fact of light. Matte finish lipsticks absorb the light and so have the effect of making your lips look smaller than they are. Stick on a bit of gloss, on the other hand, and the light will instantly bounce back, giving the impression of fuller, more eye-catching lips.
BOOST THIN LIPS
Try a lip primer, suggests Richard Hawkins of Guerlain. ‘A sophisticated lip primer such as Guerlain’s Lip Lift will plump up lips. It will also help lipstick go on more smoothly and to stay put for longer.’
The Lip Lift costs £20, but if you’re wondering if it’s worth it, you should know that it’s Guerlain’s best-selling product.
WHAT ABOUT RED?
top make-up artist Louise Constad, of beautyqueenworkshops.com, says red brings out the inner Marilyn Monroe in us all. ‘If a solid red lip doesn’t suit you, then try a sheer red, which can be much kinder and easier to wear,’ she suggests.
‘Wearing red lipstick is often a matter of getting used to seeing yourself with lips that stand out, but within only a day or two you will feel more comfortable.’
According to make-up guru Bobbi Brown, anyone can wear red lipstick; it’s just a question of finding the shade that is right for you.
This winter, Bobbi has produced her first ever really red lipstick — the candy-bright Hollywood Red (£15.50).
It’s a very flattering shade, but if that is still too much for you, then there’s an easier-to-wear matching lipgloss in Hollywood Red (£14, bobbibrown.co.uk).
And if you wear red, you don’t have to worry about teeth-whitening. If you choose red lipstick, or another really bright shade, you will find, as if by magic, that your teeth will automatically look whiter in comparison.
Use a light-coloured pencil and draw a careful line just above the edge of the ‘cupid’s bow’ on your upper lip, advises Richard Hawkins.
‘This replicates the “milk line” — the white, second lip-line that you see along the edge of babies’ plump lips. It catches the light and gives the illusion that your lips are fuller than they are.’
Another classic light-catching trick, adds Kay Montano, is, after you have applied lipstick, to pop a blob of gloss in the centre of the lower lip.
Again, this makes the lip look much fuller than it really is.
BEWARE THE BEE-STUNG POUT
There are several lip glosses that claim to boost the size of your lips ‘naturally’ — but approach these with caution.
They contain ingredients such as peppermint or cinnamon that irritate the delicate skin of the lips, causing a mild inflammatory reaction which results in redder, plumper, stung-up lips.
On the plus side, this is a natural, genuine reaction, which may well make your lips a bit bigger.
On the downside, if it is strong enough to work, it is very likely to sting, and stinging lips are the sort of thing that quickly become so painful you can think about nothing else.
Technically, we all love the look and idea of a bee-stung pout — but are we really willing to suffer for it all night long? No thanks.
GET THE LOOK
STEP ONE: Prepare and prime the lips by applying a lip conditioner. Wait a few minutes for the product to be absorbed, gently removing any excess product with a tissue
STEP TWO: Take your concealer and blank out the natural colour of your
lips. Set the concealer on your lips using a translucent face powder to stop the lip colour bleeding
STEP THREE: Starting at the Cupid's bow, apply lip liner, going out towards
the corner of the lips. Then follow the natural line of the bottom lip to create an outline for the lipstick
STEP FOUR: Match your lipstick to your liner, then use a lip brush to fill
the colour, working from the inside outwards. Use a cotton bud to remove any mistakes
STEP FIVE: Blot the colour using a tissue
pursed between your lips, then reapply another layer of lipstick to give you a solid, long-lasting colour
STEP SIX: If you go for bold red lips, tone down the rest of your make-up.
Stick to neutral shades on your eyes so they won't fight your lips for
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