How A 2-Second Concealer Hack Helps My Lips Look Way Fuller
Over the past year, I’ve noticed my lips starting to thin out. To be honest, this has come at no surprise to me. I have previously reported on how lips lose volume, color, and their natural suppleness with age. Given my line of work, I’m well acquainted with the aesthetic changes that come with getting older. And for the most part, these changes don’t bother me: It’s just a part of life.
But just because I’ve accepted that aesthetic changes are inevitable, doesn’t mean I don’t have an arsenal of tips and tricks to help me look my best. As far as keeping my lips looking pouty and plump, there’s one very easy hack myself and makeup artists swear by—and all you need is a teeny bit of concealer.
But first: why do lips deflate with age?
There are many facial changes that happen as we get older. Specifically in the lip area, these changes can be attributed to loss of collagen, fat, lipids, and humectants like hyaluronic acid1. When the natural reserve of these start to decline or the production of these starts slowing down, the skin will appear less plump and soft.
One of the primary drivers is fat loss. The lips have four fat pads that sit under the skin that make up the shape of lips as we know them. How and to what extent folks lose fat varies quite a bit, but starting at some point in your 20s this change will start happening.
Collagen and hyaluronic acid also play a role. Collagen is the skin’s primary structural protein, and it’s what keeps skin firm, strong, and lifted. The protein is why lips hold shape. Without collagen, the skin can sag, develop fine lines, and deflate.
Hyaluronic acid is another important element of skin aging. The humectant is found all over the body—but most notably in the epidermis. In fact, 50% of our body’s supply of HA is found in the skin. But like collagen, we lose our ability to produce it as effectively as the years go on. Without it, the skin becomes more chapped, flaky, and loses suppleness.
How concealer can make your lips appear fuller:
Like I noted, deflating fat pads under the skin is the primary cause of thinning lips. (It’s not the sole cause, as collagen loss, hyaluronic acid loss, and other skin changes play a role. But fat loss is definitely the main driver.)
The truth is that fat loss under the skin cannot be addressed with topical treatments, unfortunately. If you’re looking for dramatic results, you can visit a dermatologist for professional intervention (read: filler).
But for a quick, low-lift, and non-invasive fix, just cheat it with concealer.
A classic makeup artist trick is to highlight the cupid’s bow. The cupid's bow refers to the dip in your upper lip, so that your top lip resembles a bow. Highlighting the area cheats the appearance of light and adds dimension. Think about it: Areas of the face that catch the light are the areas that are more prominent, such as the nose and cheeks. So when you create the illusion of light, it tricks the eye into thinking that the lip area is more voluminous.
When you hear “highlight” most folks think of well, highlighter. And while you can totally use this handy makeup product to pull off the trick, highlighters are usually shiny or sparkly. For those of us who stick to a minimalist makeup look, just a light shade of concealer does the same thing.
According to celebrity makeup artist Mary Irwin, any lighter color will add that faux volume. For example: "You can use concealer in a slightly lighter color to define," she says.
After, I’ll fill in the lips with a nude-pink lip color (or whatever natural hue work for you) and a swipe of lip balm. I always opt for lip balms with fatty acids, lipids, and humectants. Personally I love those formulated with hyaluronic acid, as it can help plump up the skin, fill in fine lines, and hydrate at the same time.
Lips lose volume with age, thanks to natural losses such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, and fat. While you can use topical products (you know, high-quality lip balms and the like) to help the skin’s appearance—that won’t totally resolve the underlying problem of fat loss. However, you can cheat the appearance of larger lips with an easy swipe of concealer. Want more tips on concealer application, check out our guide.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.