Shh! Just kiss me

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Let’s talk about lips. Why? Because over on Instagram, where I post daily makeup and lipstick looks, I get a lot of questions about my lips. I’d say questions about my skin-care routine come first, followed by questions about my pucker.

I never thought much about my lips, at least until about 8th grade. I was at a slumber party when Cindy Astin suddenly blurted, “Don’t you think Ronda has perfect lips?” Therein followed a lengthy discussion of what constitutes good lips, with the general consensus that mine, indeed, were high on the shapely scale. (Notable abstainers were Lucia Cimarusti and Laura LoCicero, the mean girls of Evelyn Carr Elementary, who believed if anything was perfect, it surely belonged to them.)

My first real boyfriend — the first boy I ever kissed — thought I was comely in general, but had a special affection for my lips. Nearly 40 years later, he said my lips remained the prettiest he’d kissed. This may or may not be true: It comes from a man who’s locked lips with well over his share of women. I suspect it’s  a line he uses with all the ladies.

But what do the people who really know lips, and by that I mean professionals who plump lips for a living, have to say? Well, they uniformly tell me never to inject anything into my upper lip, because I apparently have desirable natural projection and a nice Cupid’s bow. My bottom lip is naturally plump, but flawed. The left side is slightly fuller and larger than the right, which drives me nuts when I wear dark or bright lipstick. To avoid the aggravation of using lip liner to underdraw the left side or overdraw the right, I have a small amount of filler injected on the right side once or twice per year. And because I like to look pleasant in repose, I have a tiny amount (very, very tiny) injected right at the corners of my lips to keep them from turning down.

Speaking of lip liner, I rarely use it. Frankly, I have a hard time getting the lines exactly straight. Also, I don’t like the effect of lip liner that doesn’t precisely match my lipstick itself, so when I do line my lips, I use matching liner and lipstick. I know some women like to overdraw their lips to make them look larger. I don’t. I think my lip size is just fine; when I overdraw them they look unnatural and bizarrely large — at least to me.

So, for those who ask me how I do my lips: It’s pretty basic. I apply cream and satin lipsticks straight from the tube. To get the edges straight when I go awry, I put a bit of concealer on a tiny brush or Q-Tip and carefully run it around the lip rim. I use a lot of liquid lipsticks because the wand gives me greater placement control. I also am a huge fan of lipstick crayons. Again, I run concealer around the edges to hide any bobbles.

Finally, when it comes to lipstick, I’m a big fan of brights — corals, pinks and reds. I will wear a deep plum or wine on occasion, but I don’t think they’re the most flattering on me. At my age, I stay away from trendy colors, such as the blues, greens, browns, grays and black-reds the younger set is wearing. In general, though, I encourage women to (1) try lots of different lipstick shades and don’t get stuck in a rut and (2) to take good care of their lips by exfoliating and moisturizing them every day. A few more tips to remember:

  • If you have very thin lips, dark shades can make them appear thinner.
  • Shiny lips appear larger. Although matte shades are in, thinner-lipped women (and men) should choose formulas with a bit of sheen or finish with lip gloss.
  • Check your lips throughout the day to make sure your lipstick is intact. Lipstick that’s worn off in the center, leaving a dark outer ring, is distracting. And not in a good way.
  • Remember that shades with orange casts can make teeth look yellow. Pinks and reds with blue undertones make them appear whiter.
  • Wearing a great shade? Smile. A lot. Put your lips to work for you!
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Five quick tips for taking a good selfie

They say that for every good selfie posted to Facebook and Instagram, there are dozens of nearly identical selfies that didn’t make the cut. That’s pretty much true, unless you learn the angles and lighting tricks needed to get it right the first, second or third time.

Because I do makeup looks of the day for my Instagram account, I take plenty of selfies. (Shameless plug: I’m Makeup_Plus_50 on Instagram.) But it doesn’t take me long to get the photo of the day because I’ve learned these five things:

1. When holding your phone or camera, make sure it’s slightly above eye level. If you have any kind of double chin at all, photos taken straight on or (God forbid) from below chin level will exaggerate the chin issue and also make your face look fatter.

2. Along the same lines, don’t “turtle” your neck by pulling it in. Extend your chin forward a bit to elongate your jawline. Again, this is especially important if you have a double chin or wattle.

3. Know your angles. Our faces aren’t symmetrical, so most of us really do have a better side. Most of my photos are angled toward the right side of my face, which is younger-looking and fuller than the left. However, when I’m going for chiseled and elegant, I shoot from the left side.

4. Find your light. When you get ready to take a photo, look at yourself on your camera screen from several different angles to find the most flattering light. I personally use my front porch for photos. Depending on the time of day, I get the best light while sitting on my front porch steps or by standing at the edge of the front porch, looking toward the sun from just under the edge of the porch roof. I also find that the light varies by time of day: Morning photos have a cooler tone and evening photos have a golden wash.

5. Beware photo touch-up apps.  There are plenty of apps on Android and ITunes that allow you to “clean up” your photos, but don’t go crazy with them. There is nothing wrong with zapping a pimple or an under-eye shadow, but don’t go wild with Photoshop. You want to look like yourself, not like a cartoon version of yourself. And for goodness sake, avoid the apps that allow you to add makeup to your photos. It may look fine in thumbnail-sized photos but it’s obvious and pixilated when the photos are enlarged!

The bottom line is that everyone can take a good selfie if they follow a few simple “rules.” It’s all about angles, light and composition.

Bonus tip: Want your eyes to look great in a selfie? Think about something that makes them come alive. I always pretend my eyes are sending a message to someone I love!

4 reasons you should never sleep with makeup on 

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Don’t be tempted to sleep in makeup.

I’m always shocked by the number of people who tell me they don’t wash their faces before going to bed. I confess to having committed this grievous sin in my college days but, then again, I did a lot of foolish things in college. But that’s a story for another day …

Listen up, ladies and gents, you should never, ever, ever go to bed without (at a minimum) cleansing and moisturizing your face. Here’s why:

  • During the day, bacteria builds up on your face. Think about it: Your skin attracts general pollutants, dirt and grime. And then there are the oils it produces, not to mention the germs it amasses when you touch your hands to your face or use your phone.
  • Pillow smush. Most people move around in bed while sleeping, and at night that includes burying our faces into our pillows. If you’re wearing makeup, all of that smushing just grinds makeup, germs and dirt deeper into your pores. Pillows are breeding grounds for bacteria anyway, so don’t magnify the problem. In addition to cleansing your face, wash your pillowcase at least one per week in very hot water to eliminate germs from skin oils, hairspray and other products that make it less than clean.
  • Clogged pores. Makeup, oil and sebum love to burrow into your pores. This can cause not only breakouts but enlarged pores. I don’t know about you, but I want to avoid sink holes on my chin and nose areas. Your skin needs to breathe and repair itself at night. Makeup, dirt and grime prevent it from doing so.
  • Broken eyelashes. If eyes are the window to the soul, who wants their soul to have tattered curtains? Sleeping in mascara makes lashes stiff, brittle and prone to breakage. Let your lashes breathe — and go a step further by using an eyelash conditioner to keep them soft and nourished.

Balm cleansers: A sensual experience 

Let’s pause for a moment to sing the praises of cleansing balms. What, exactly, are they? They’re thick, rich cleansers packed with oil and emollients that melt when they come into contact with skin. They remove dirt and makeup without stripping skin of its moisture and also latch onto and remove excess sebum — the icky stuff that causes blackheads, blemishes and enlarged pores.

A lot of people worry about the wisdom of using oil-based cleansers, fearing they will cause oily skin to become more oily. Actually, the opposite is true: Using cleansers that are too drying causes skin to produce more oil. This results in larger pores and increased acne.

Balm cleansers are applied to dry skin and massaged with the fingers. Don’t rush the process, or you’ll miss a fantastic sensation: As the oils in the balm begin to melt, you’ll be left with a thick, warm concoction that feels amazing. Take time to give your face a sensual massage that improves circulation as you cleanse. Once you’ve finished your mini-spa experience, wash away the balm with a wet, warm — not hot — washcloth or muslin cloth.

I think by now you’re aware that I’m a big fan of cleansing balms. Since that’s established, here are my favorites:

  • Sunday Riley’s Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm — This is a soft blue balm-to-milk cleanser. Here’s the company’s description: “Using gentle, clean-rinsing, sugar-based cleansers, it moisturizes with cocoa butter and mimosa flower wax while soothing with deep-blue, azulene-rich, essential oils of blue tansy and German chamomile. Vanilla and sweet orange essential oils help to relax the mind for a tranquil, spa-like experience. It rinses clean effortlessly while thoroughly removing makeup and gently purifying the skin.”
  • Jordan Samuel Skin Plié Treatment Cleanser — This is a lovely gel-to-oil cleanser. The company says it uses “olive, jojoba, and grapeseed oils to remove every trace of makeup, while sugarcane, apple and willow bark extracts provide a gentle exfoliation to leave the skin hydrated, soft and absolutely pristine.”

Many women view their facial cleansing ritual as something to get done in a hurry. By adjusting their thinking to view it as a pleasure, they’ll enjoy the process and even look forward to it. Cleansing balms can help: There’s no way around it; the warm, silky slippery sensation they produce is almost like an orgasm for the face!