As we get older the border of our lip becomes less defined and our natural lip colour lightens, in our teens we may be blessed with naturally full and plump lips, but for me as soon as the clock ticked past twenty it seemed that my upper lip deflated quicker than a lifeless lilo left out in a pool in Costa Brava. I’m all for natural beauty and I believe in looking the way that nature intended, as all too often you see crazy celebrities with gigantic lips and ridiculous facelifts that make them look like aliens and it doesn’t fool anyone that they’ve had work done, even though they deny it. But at the same time I also appreciate the difference that a little helping hand makes. I don’t want to change how I look per se, but more enhance what I already have in a subtle and sympathetic way. After all I still want to look like me, just a more polished version.
As I’ve already had my eyebrows and upper eyeliner tattoo’d with semi-permanent makeup and love the results, it was only a matter of time before I became curious about the lip blush treatment. When I hear the word “lipliner” I picture a bold red pencil drawn around wrinkly white thin lips, slapping on a pout and smearing blood red lipstick over teeth. It’s not a pretty sight and something I would never do. I’ve never been a fan of lipliner because it looks so false and awful, and I think the stronger you define your features the more over the top you have to go with the rest of your face in order to make it all match, as you can’t wear a bold lip colour without defining your eyes and brows too. Before you know it the more makeup you apply, and the more daring you get is one step closer to turning yourself into a drag queen and no amount of makeup wipes can spare you the disappointment when you remove your face and look like a plain boy in the morning.
So when I wear lipstick I tend to stick to light peachy pink shades to compliment my pale white skin, dark blonde hair and blue eyes. In the summer when I have a tan I’m definitely braver with my lip colour choices and go for a more warmer coral or light red, but I never use a liner. My lipstick rubs off, smears, fades and goops up in the corners of the mouth, caking over dry or chapped lips and I so I constantly have to retouch it throughout the day to keep it in place. At the ripe old age of 27 I’ve decided to give the lip blush treatment a go, which is basically the same as wearing a lip liner only without the horrendously obvious line, as the colour is blended into your natural lip creating a fuller shape, providing definition and a voluptuous pout without the need to apply lipstick or pencil throughout the day. It can’t rub, smudge or fade and certainly sounds inviting considering how much I love my tattoo’d brows and eyeliner.
As with all cosmetic procedures, it’s important to go to a specialist, as you can’t have an ordinary tattooist perform cosmetic makeup treatments to the face because the depth of the needles and ink they use are entirely different. Semi permanent makeup, or SPMU, is exactly what it says it is, makeup that lasts a long time but not forever, as pigment is implanted under the skin by just a few millimetres in order to create shape and fullness for various facial features. If you go too deep you risk the colour blowing out and spreading in blotches, which will look like a patchy mess when it eventually comes to the surface years later. So in order to maintain a precise and perfectly manicured shape for brows, eyes and lips, you can have your SPMU topped up every year to 18months depending on how quickly it fades and the end results you hope to achieve.
For my requirements I am looking to bring definition and fullness to my upper lip, bringing it more in line with the juicy shape and size of my lower lip, as I feel that it looks too flat in comparison with a rather jagged and faded pale upper lip line and no ‘m’ shape in the centre at all. I really don’t want to look like a puffer fish, nor do I want a bold and striking lipstick colour 24/7, so I’m looking for a more natural and subtle enhancement to my lip line with a gentle colour to make the most of what I have and correct the shape and fullness of my upper lip.
I have therefore booked into Inka Belle in Essex to have a SPMU lip blush treatment which costs £295.00 and is tailored to your individual requirements. I have been advised to allow 2hrs for my first visit, with a top up of colour taking just 60mins one month later once the initial treatment has healed. I can return to work immediately after as there is no need to take time off, and a topical anaesthetic can be applied to help numb the lip prior to treatment, with full recovery expected within just five days. The lips are said to become swollen following treatment and to feel slightly tender and sensitive for a couple of hours after, with creams available to stop them from cracking and drying out. It’s important to keep the lips dry and free from food, fingers and liquids to prevent infection, so I’ll be drinking with a straw and eating soup to start with followed by finger foods that I can easily place into my mouth to chew without catching on my lips. As I’ve never had a cold sore I should be fine, however those who suffer from them are likely to have a breakout following treatment, for which a GP can prescribe tablets in advance. Following the completion of my two lip pigment treatments I will simply need a top up of colour once every year to 18months for maintenance, and it’s care free lips all day everyday as a result. My treatment is booked in for five days time and I really can’t wait to see the results.
So here I will be keeping a daily diary of the procedure, healing and aftercare and showing you a step-by-step guide of how my treatment goes, with my video diary completed and uploaded at the end. I hope that my experience can help to inform and educate others to always visit a professional when having any cosmetic procedure carried out, especially on the face, and to give you a realistic view of what to expect should you like to have the same treatment yourself. So wish me luck, love and kisses, and here’s to a perfect pout!
UPDATE: 14/11/14 Treatment Day
The day has finally arrived for my treatment and this morning I drove to Essex to the stunning Lucia Hair Boutique in Billericay where the Inka Belle studio is located. I was advised not to take any painkillers before my treatment as it thins the blood which is a very bad idea when tattooing. I was however allowed to use my own numbing cream if I wanted, so I purchased a tube of Emla cream online beforehand and applied it to my lips, just as you would a balm, for half an hour before my appointment whilst having my hair trimmed and a blow dry in the salon by Olivia Solly.
It was lovely to relax and get pampered by the ladies, surrounded by pretty mirrors, sparkling chandeliers and glittered walls as we had a little gossip and spoke about my lips in true Essex extravagance. Although the lip blush treatment can be performed without numbing the lips first, in my opinion I would always prefer the no-pain option to avoid even slightest discomfort, so it was no bother at all for me to pick up a tube of cream as it takes the sting off of the treatment. I have to confess that I was quite nervous the closer it got to my appointment and utterly curious as to what my lips might look like after.
Once my locks were beautifully tamed, Kierra greeted and welcomed me into the Inka Bella studio with cream walls, flickering candles, a reclining chair like at the dentist and various medical equipment and folders. I was asked to take a seat at the desk to talk through the procedure first and the results that I hoped to achieve, as well as completing the paperwork and signing the consent forms for treatment.
Kierra explained the various shapes and colours available and what would best suit my needs and most importantly my face shape and features. She identified that my top lip was rather flat and straight, which is exactly what I felt and reassuring to hear that it could be corrected. Kierra then explained that she could enhance my “cupid’s bow” which is the curve that creates the ‘m’ shape at the middle of the lip, in order to create more volume and definition. And then we looked at colours. As I wanted a natural lip colour I asked for a peachy pink shade that would be light and subtle so that it looks perfect without people realising I’d necessarily had anything done. Kierra advised that my natural lip colour isn’t actually pink, but more of a coral, so to achieve a natural tone to my lip she could mix a combination of pink and coral to bring a touch of pink to my lips without there being an obvious colour barrier which sounded very sensible and exactly what I wanted, I just didn’t know it until it was explained to me.
After the paperwork was signed and my colour decided and tested out on the back of my hand, I was then led to the chair for my treatment to start. Very much like being in a dentist, everything is clinical, white and wrapped in sterile plastic to prevent infection from germs. I certainly judge an establishment based on its cleanliness and the staffs level of hygiene, as I would never undergo a procedure at a venue that I didn’t think was safe, even if I’d already paid for it. You can never be too careful with your health and safety, and for an OCD clean freak like me, Kierra ticked all my boxes, showing me the pre-sealed sterile single-use needles she would be using for the liner and shading, the sealed colour pots and equipment, and wrapping the wires and hand piece in front of me with fresh plastic.
I was reclined to a laying down position and a ring light pulled across and switched on above my head, as Kierra perched at my side and took pictures of my lips before my treatment at various angles. She then took a red lip liner pencil and marked out where my new lip line would be before asking me to sit up and look into the mirror to check the height, width and curve on my lips, and after a few minimal tweaks we were ready to begin. It really made me appreciate how open and professional Kierra is, as rather than telling me what I should have done she asked me what I’d like and then explained if and why it was or wasn’t possible to achieve. She had a lot of time and patience which is priceless, talking me through each step and listening to my thoughts and concerns, and I knew that each decision I made was the best for my own needs. My major concern was to get the shape of the cupids bow natural and soft, whilst increasing the height of my top lip and correcting the asymmetry. Everybody is different and their needs will vary greatly, so finding an understanding and able practitioner who can communicate and advise with an unbiased opinion is paramount no matter what procedure you are having.
With my new lip line drawn into position Kierra then explained that she was setting up the first needle which would be used to create the outline, or lip line, and is typically the most uncomfortable part of the treatment. My hands were clammy and I felt myself gritting my teeth as she switched on the machine and the buzzing came closer to my face. I have six body tattoo’s already and don’t mind the feeling of needles on my skin, as it’s more of a bearable scratch than pain, but my lips are far more sensitive and even having a spot near my mouth or nose is always extremely tender to pop, so I’d convinced myself my lips would hurt but I’d close my eyes and clench my fists and get through it as quickly as possible.
Kierra said that I should try to stay as calm and still as possible, and if I’d like her to stop at any point, rather than trying to speak and move my lips I should instead raise my hand. So I swallowed hard, closed my eyes, placed my hands in my lap and gave the go ahead for Kierra to begin. The seconds leading up to the buzzing reach my face and the needle making contact with my lip were the most longest and worrisome ever. But as soon as it began I had the biggest sense of relief, as there was absolutely no pain at all. Kierra stopped and asked me if I was ok and if I needed to take a break or have a moment to rest and I smiled from ear to ear and said I was fine, it was a million times easier than I’d ever expected. I guess when you don’t know what it’s going to be like you build up your own fear and worry with your imagination, and when I prepare myself for the worst I always seem to be pleasantly surprised.
And as Kierra carried on without stopping at all, she asked me every now and again if I was still okay and I hummed a cheerful “uh-huh” as she continued. At one point I did ask which lip she was working on, as the buzzing of the needle on my numb lips made it impossible for me to tell. The lip line took no time at all, and she went over it a few times to make sure the pigment was properly in place. I was able to inspect it in the mirror whilst Kierra changed the needle ready for the shading and loved the shape she’d created which kept me smiling all the way through the second half of the procedure. With the second needle in place the shading could begin, which involved placing the pigment at the lip line and dragging it inwards into the middle of the lip, much as you would scribble with a felt pen when colouring in a picture. As my lips were still numb I lay with my eyes closed and had a nice little rest, trying my hardest not to fall asleep as I listened to the music and drone of the buzzing from the machine.
Before I knew it my treatment was complete and Kierra wiped away the excess pigment from around my lips before apply a healing vitamin ointment. As you can see in the picture below my lips are rather swollen directly after the treatment which is to be expected considering I’d just had thousands of needles pricking my skin. The colour is only applied on the outer edges of the lip line and faded into the lip so the middle of my mouth is left completely untouched and still shows my natural colour. My lips feel as though they are made of rubber right now, they are still completely numb and it makes me want to laugh when I talk as they feel massive and cold with no sensation at all just like when you visit the dentist. I was told that the first couple of hours after the treatment are when they are most tender, but as I had my numbing Emla cream on I couldn’t feel a thing and am now off to bed for an early night and to rest up and heal, I highly recommend getting yourself some if you’re thinking of having your lips treated because it worked wonders for me.
UPDATE: 15/11/14 Healing Day 1
Today I woke up and my lips started to feel a little firm, like when you get baked bean juice on the corner of your mouth and it starts to dry. I have an urge to wipe it off, but I realise that it’s my lips beginning to heal which is a good thing, and I’m not allowed to touch them at all so I’m keeping my hands busy by doing other things instead of wanting to touch my face. This picture was taken first thing in the morning before applying my vitamin ointment which Kierra gave me in a sachet along with my aftercare instructions. As you can see the outer edges with colour are starting to harden and raise up SLIGHTLY, which I must prevent from cracking too soon with the vitamin ointment but ensure that they stay clean and have plenty of air to allow them to dry. The numbing cream has well and truly worn off now and I feel absolutely no pain or discomfort at all, I’d just really like to lick my lips or give them a wash. I’m drinking my water through a straw and have been eating homemade soups again through my straw which is fine as they’re smooth and delicious. Not only is it a pretty painless cosmetic treatment to have but it’s also a great way to detox, I feel healthy and trim and have just four days left until I’m healed. It’s so quick!
UPDATE: 16/11/14 Healing Day 2
Today I noticed scabs starting to form around the edge of my lips as it’s becoming a little more raised and obvious in colour difference to my natural lip. The colour will fade to 60% lighter than it is now once it’s healed, so in three days time I shall hopefully be left with pretty natural looking shapely lips. Again my lips don’t hurt and aren’t yet cracking, they just feel different where the scabs are. They’re obviously still my lip, but with something stuck on them that I can’t feel, and when I smile and speak I notice that they’re restricted slightly but it doesn’t hurt. I’m still applying my ointment sparingly so as not to keep my lips too moist as the scabbing is what helps them to heal and it’s important not to knock them or pick bits off. Slowly slowly catch a monkey.
UPDATE: 17/11/14 Healing Day 3
So today I feel really twitchy as my scabs have really bubbled up and I’m desperate to clean my lips. It’s a bit like eating a doughnut without licking the sugar off of your lips afterwards as it looks pretty ugly and lumpy to look at so I try to keep my head down when I’m out in public and avoid mirrors in my house. To be fair, even though this picture looks disgusting, when the ointment is on my lips it isn’t really very obvious that the scabs are there as it smooths it all over and helps it to blend in. Even so I’m counting down to the final two days of healing and hoping that the scabs will come off naturally and quickly so that I don’t have to look like this for much longer! I can brush my teeth fine and I’m eating normal meals now, giving myself extra time to cut my food up small and open my mouth extra wide to place it into my mouth and not touch my lips. So far so good and I’ve not had any problems or discomfort thank goodness.
UPDATE: 18/11/14 Healing Day 4
Just one day left of healing and my bubbly scabs have started to shrink down today and are almost flat to my lips. I’ve just applied some more healing ointment which I am using only once a day to prevent the scabs from drying out completely and peeling off too soon. The scabs are cracking and lifting up in large pieces but it doesn’t hurt or pull at all. I was really expecting it to feel like a cut knee that scabs, to feel hard and tight and tender to eat or speak, but it’s really been no bother at all and I hardly notice it until I catch a glimpse in the mirror. From a distance it looks as though I’m just wearing dark lipstick as it’s all over my lips, rather than an unsightly cold sore which would bubble up in one area and look very obvious and isolated.
UPDATE: 19/11/14 Healing Day 5
This morning when I was eating breakfast I could feel the scabs on my lips peeling as I chewed, the bottom lip lifted up and peeled away all in one piece like an omelette in a frying pan and just dropped off. Sorry for the vision there, but it was really exciting to see as the scabs were in fact the same colour as the pinky pigment and rather pretty instead of the traditional rusty bumpy colour the body produces when you cut yourself. So now I just have half of my top lip left and I’m expecting it will come off at some point today. It’s amazing to see my new lip line already and I’m very happy with the shape and colour as my lips are beautifully defined whilst looking incredibly natural and subtle, exactly what I wanted! As you can see from this picture the more intense pink is just around the edge of my lips, which will look seamless with a clear balm or gloss when I can start wearing it. At my next treatment in a months time the colour will be brought more inwards and cover a greater area of the lip. For the healing of stage one I am incredibly impressed.
After lunch the final scabs came off of my top lip and now they are completely clean and clear and it’s such a wonderful feeling. I must still apply my vitamin ointment for the next week and two days in order to allow them two weeks of full healing, as the skin on my lips feels new and delicate, much like they’re chapped and a little dry. I am really impressed with my new lip line as the shape is both discreet yet noticeable, my lips look fuller, more balanced and have a pretty cupids bow instead of being a straight flat line.
The biggest difference can be seen in my before and after pictures particularly in my top lip, as the cupids bow, or ‘m’ shape is much more defined and a very natural shape which I love. My lip colour is now it’s healed shade, and at my second treatment in a months time the colour will be blended from the outer lip line down to the middle of my lip instead of just around the edge. The procedure has been so quick, convenient and easy to heal and I adore the results, without it being obvious that I have had something done. I now have the choice of selecting a darker colour if I wish to define my lips more for my top up treatment, so I’d best use the next four weeks wisely to decide.
Here’s a video of my treatment, aftercare and healing:
If you have any thoughts, feedback or questions for me please feel free to leave them in the comment box below, and remember to check back soon to see how my lips are coming along!