wtf is lip blushing?
RIP collagen, botox and fillers, the newest trend in semi-permanent beauty is looking like you're wearing lippy, but like, all the time.
Image via Instagram.
Picture this: you wake up in the morning, bleary-eyed and feeling significantly less sexy than you did the night before. But you look into the mirror and what’s staring back at you doesn’t reflect that. You are, as the kids say, ‘beat for the gods’. Your brows are on point, your strange puffy eyes are framed by wing-tip mascara, and your lips look like Kylie Jenner’s circa 2017. For more and more people these days, whether they’re 18 or approaching the age of retirement, this circumstance is a reality. We can thank permanent make-up for that.
While it's actually been about for ages already, we wouldn’t blame you if it's been relegated to the back of your brain with other 90s relics like Furbies and Groovy Chick bed sheets. After all, the permanent make-up of the past was gloriously inconspicuous: worm-thin eyebrows and beauty spots fading from black to navy blue. It was a messy but simple alternative to actual make-up, which took time out of your morning. But thankfully, people soon realised that the opportunity to change your look from day-to-day was half the fun of beautifying yourself anyway (I mean, have you seen Euphoria?) and the trend faded into relative obscurity.
That was until microblading came to the fore and the tattooed brow and lip trend got its essential 21st century re-up. The procedure swaps out the basic tattoo gun technique for a special tool that uses multiple needles to inject semi-permanent pigments into the skin. The results? More natural than the block-out brows of the past. As permanent make up artists explored its possibilities, lip blushing arrived: the most mind-boggling new technique that microblading’s rise to prominence has given us and that beauty fans are going mad for.
Lip blushing is like a permanent lipstick of sorts; a digital pen-like appliance dots a lipstick-like tinge on and around the edges of our lips, leaving a full colour that fills in the gaps and crevices of our natural skin. As a result, lips appear fuller and more defined. The procedure is basically being touted on Instagram as a lowkey, modern alternative to collagen and lip fillers. Think: more Glossier, less trout pout.
It’s a modern cosmetic treatment that almost sounds like something from a sci-fi film, and while it doesn’t use microblading per se (“We use a digital machine which is much less scratchy in comparison to microblading,” permanent make up expert Laura Kays tells i-D), its technique is far more advanced than the slapdash processes of the past.
For those who want to steer clear of collagen, terrified of the duck face look it's come to be associated with, lip blushing is a less drastic alternative. Gen Z has learned from the mistakes made by past generations and are savvy to what works. “Lip blush is a quick and instant fix, just like a photo filter,” Camille Wilde, a beauty therapist specialising in microblading tells i-D. “With the procedure, I can correct the lip line, make the lips a smidgen fuller and add a youthful pink to them.” It’s the 2019 replacement to the lipliner look, something Camille believes has died. While the range of clients expressing an interest in it is across the board, according to Laura, it’s "popular amongst people who are looking for more volume, colour and shape” to their lips, especially “career women who want minimal time spent on their make-up application in the mornings”.
24-year-old Ellie, who entrusted permanent make-up artist Tracie Giles to make her lips more defined, paid nearly £600 for her treatment and a follow up appointment. “I feel like I’m still quite young and wanted to try something else before fillers,” she tells us. “I haven’t got a cupid’s bow, so was desperate for my lips to have a more feminine shape, and noticed that a lot more celebrities had a fuller looking pout.”
The influence of celebrity on how we want to look is well documented, but attaining that practically perfect aesthetic doesn’t necessarily require going under the knife like many do. Some young people, like Ellie, are finding satisfaction through less strenuous procedures. It may be costly, but lip blushing is quick and relatively safe: after your consultation (which usually consists of a patch test 24 hours before the treatment), you can be in and out in as little as 90 minutes.
What’s more, the final colour you wind up with is matched to your skin tone, rather than the solid black brows and liners on offer in the past. “I could have control over the colour,” Ellie explains. “The technician helped advise me [on what would work] based on my skin tone. I knew that I wanted them to look natural and subtle, so we decided on a pinky colour in the end.”
Laura, a former make up artist, thinks the shade is more important than some might think. Too light? There’s likely to be little difference in pigmentation to your old lips. Too dark? You’ll look like you're off to a bougie soiree when, in reality, you’re just in the queue for a croissant and filter coffee in Pret. “I am very careful with the colour I advise,” she says. “I talk in depth about their current make up applications, habits and colours, since it is important to match the colour to the lifestyle.” A happy medium tends to work best, but with this technique, everybody wins. Calling all goths: that means you can make your black lippy a permanent fixture too! The dream.
I wondered if Ellie had any sort of apprehensions as she committed to have one shade stuck to her lips for the foreseeable future. The only thing she was actually worried about was the pain, but it wound up being more of a slight discomfort than searing agony, “sort of like an electric toothbrush” she claims. A small price to pay to save yourself 15 seconds in the morning? Tbh we're so sleep deprived we might just be on board.