Let’s talk about lips!
One of the most attractive features on a female face is their lips. Modern society offers us many options to enhance our lips – we can outline them, colour them in with gloss or lipstick, or tattoo them for a more permanent look, and we can augment or restore them with cosmetic injectables such as dermal filler .
As a clinician, when we assess the lip area, we realise that EVERY person’s lip is different, however one thing is consistent – proportions. Proportions are paramount and I believe if ignored, distorted proportions can lead to the area looking ‘treated’ or ‘done’. The lip area is a complex area – it’s not just the lips we are assessing, it is how they relate to the rest of the face – especially the chin – both at rest and on animation.
Interestingly, your teeth play a much more significant role than you might think, affecting how far out each of your lips project from your face from the side view (the medical term is ‘projection’); how your lips appear when you smile; and also asymmetries of the lip. Sometimes we might suggest a client sees an orthodontist to help achieve their desired look.
An ‘ideal’ beautiful lip should have light reflection off the border of the lip, a well- defined central cupid’s bow on the upper lip, a luscious lower lip, obvious philtral columns (the two ridges that run from under the nose to the peaks of the Cupid’s bow) and balanced proportions such as those I’m about to describe below. Nevertheless, I have seen many a beautiful lip that doesn’t tick every box.
Lips must match the face they are attached to, especially in terms of length and width of the face.
The size of the lips at rest should be as wide as the inner coloured part of the eye – if you have bigger eyes, you may be able to successfully carry bigger lips. If you have small eyes, big lips can take you completely off balance.
The height of the upper lip should ideally be one third the height of the lower lip – this is variable depending on different ethnicities, age of the client and other facial features on the client. Lower lip fullness should be central, and balanced to the width of both the chin and nose, otherwise can look a little sulky or sausage-like if product is placed too wide.
Lip proportions of an ‘ideal’ lip
For a man the width of the chin is ideally as wide as the lips at rest. On smile the lips should lift, widen and thin out, and ideally there should be only a very small amount of gum showing. On profile, the upper lip should sit 1-2mm forward of the lower lip and the chin should project as far as the border of the lower lip.
To see some examples of our work, go to our Gallery page, and click on Lips.
With ageing, we experience changes in our face in our bone structure, fat distribution, muscles and skin. Muscles become overactive and your skin changes – including loss of the essential support provided by collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. These changes can impact your proportions dramatically – your upper white part of the lip starts to flatten, get longer, and develop lines with age. Deflation of the lips means the beautiful light reflect along the lip border becomes blurred, and we appear to lose the ‘definition’ of the lips. Shadows develop at the corners of the mouth, making us look miserable or sad, and the chin starts to flatten, and rotate upwards.
Treatment options vary depending on the age, proportions, dentiture, and overall presentation of the client. It’s important we consider how the rest of your face is ageing, which is why we might sometimes suggest treating a different area first e.g. your cheeks, before touching your lips, as otherwise the end result can look disproportionate – like a furnished house with no foundations or what some people might call ‘lips on stick’.
Dermal fillers can be used exceptionally well to restore, correct, or enhance proportions, as described above – at The Face Place, we like to ensure that this will always be a result that is balanced with the rest of your face. We don’t create ‘duck lips’ as we assess your lip balance to the rest of your face, and consider your lips on profile and animation!
Creating structure and support for the lips is a crucial part in delivering a great result – you can test whether this has been accounted for by moving, or animating, your lips.
P.S. There is another injectable we can use for lips; however the use is ‘off-label’. This means it’s fine to perform it, but just not to advertise it. See more information here or just come and chat with us.