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Fashion for the over 50s with books and beauty

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Wednesday 10 August 2022

Thinning Lips and Barcode Lines

 & WowOnWednesday

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton wearing Atomic Cherry lipstick by Lisa Eldridge as she explains ways of dealing with thinning lips and barcode lines around the mouth.

Dear friends. I was asked recently what we can do about thinning lips, something which happens as we age.  I'm also troubled by "barcode lines," those lines  above the top lip. They're usually associated with smokers but we all have them to some extent. I'm going to explain a few ways of camouflaging these issues, and what's available if you decide to get professional treatment.

As a teenager I had quite thick lips and was sometimes called "rubber lips" at school. No chance of that now! My top lip is thinner than the bottom one, and a bit uneven in shape. Aged 12, I was hit in the mouth with a hockey stick at school, and the resulting two stitches in my top lip changed the shape slightly.

The barcode lines are really starting to bug me.  They're caused by the stretching of the skin around our mouths when we talk and eat. Over time skin loses its strength and elasticity. Thinner lips are a sign of ageing plus sun exposure or smoking. As we get older the collagen in our lips breaks down and the muscles tire, leaving the lips looking and feeling thinner. This can also lead to wrinkles around the lips.

Skincare remedies for thin lips and bar code lines

Moisturisers and serums won't remove the problem for good but as soon as you apply them you get a slight improvement simply through their plumping effect. 

Remember those "lip plumping" products? They're still around but claim these days to be very scientific. A company called Esho is making waves for its "Get the Esho Ratio" Sculpt Lip Serum. I've been using it (not gifted) and there may have been a minuscule improvement in lip shape, but no discernible change to the size of the lips.

Esho say you should expect a gentle tingling sensation as as the serum "plumps and defines curvature, while leaving your skin feeling hydrated and soft."

For the barcode lines, I applied Trinny London's Miracle Blur. This is a thick paste which you warm slightly with your fingers and then press into light lines or wrinkles.  Below: the before and after. In the top picture, no products have been used. In the picture below, I've used Esho Lip Sculpt and Trinny London Miracle Blur.  You can see the instant hydrating effect of using a lip product.

Before and after showing the lips of over-60s blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton as she explores lip plumpers and other products to help with thinning lips and barcode lines.

Using Make-up to Improve Thin Lips

I take part in two Instagram lipstick "challenges" each week, #WowLipsWednesday and #Sundayisforredlipstoo, so I am keen to learn any lipstick tips and tricks!

My go-to lipstick guru, Lisa Eldridge, has a great tutorial here on the best make-up techniques for mature women. She uses Fusion Beauty Micro Injected Collagen Lip Plump Gloss. She uses a small amount, waits for 10 minutes for the lips to plump up, and then restores definition with a lip pencil, just to areas which need it. She recommends either a gloss or lipstick in shades that give vibrancy like corals and sheer reds. She advises us to avoid "dead lilacs" or very pale pinks.

If you have the dreaded "resting bitch face" caused by down turned lips, Lisa Eldridge has a good tutorial here. I've tried this technique and it definitely works!

Lisa doesn't talk about extending lipstick beyond the natural lip line, which some do to make their lips look thicker. I never do it either.  This look very easily becomes "The Joker", as Joaquin Phoenix shows.

One thing I always do is apply a lip primer, either Look Fabulous Forever's Never Feather or Guerlain's Kiss Kiss Lip Lift. These provide a smooth foundation for your lipstick and prevent it creeping beyond your lips and into the bar code lines. I don't use it on top of lip plumping products or balms.

Another trick is to apply a little highlighter in the cupid's bow. I always do this.

Here I'm showing you the Guerlain Lip Lift product plus a new shade from Lisa Eldridge, Atomic Cherry, which is a flattering sheer coral red. You can see the finished look in the picture at the top. Scarf (spring variant) by My Season Jewellery

Below:  wearing Look Fabulous Forever's True Coral.  Scarf and top by Kettlewell, scarf clip by Lock and Shine.

Wearing True Coral lipstick by Look Fabulous Forever, Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton. She explores ways to deal with thinning lips and barcode lines using skincare, make-up and tweakments.

What Can Be Done Professionally?

Journalist Alice Hart-Davis, who writes the Tweakments Guide, has a video on how to eliminate barcode lip lines.  She says skincare such as sunscreens and retinoid based products in the evening is a given. In terms of tweakments, Alice suggests micro needling, on its own or combined with radio frequency. Micro needling creates minute punctures in the skin which causes new collagen to grow. 

She suggests laser skin resurfacing or an injectable moisture treatment such as Volite. She says fillers are no good in this area because you would only need a tiny amount in each line and would have to constantly have them re-done. Lip fillers address both issues of thin lips and barcode lines, but there's a risk of having too much injected and looking like a trout with a pout. 

The whole topic of tweakments for older women is a minefield. On the one hand, we're told sternly by peers that we should age naturally, there's nothing wrong with it; but on the other hand, we chide actors and singers for trying to look younger, when actually their industries will happily sideline them if they don't hold back the hands of time.

I believe it's a personal decision, and if it makes you feel happier and you can afford it, go for it! I don't personally: I am passionate about skincare and make-up.  But if I came into a lot of money, I would probably be off to Harley Street like a shot for some tweakments! 

The best tip is never to go to anyone cheap. That local beauty salon, where they're promising lip filler for a hundred pounds?  Or the botox parties? Avoid. This is a completely unregulated area, and anyone can get a certificate online giving them "credentials" in using injectables. So if you're going to splash out, perhaps for a special event, do a lot of research and be prepared to pay top dollar for natural results. 

I'd love to hear if you suffer from these lip issues. Do you have any recommendations?  Do tell in the comments.

Now it's time for the #WowOnWednesday link-up. Bloggers/Instagrammers can find new readers, plus readers can find new blogs to read. 

Last Week's Favourites

The novelty of a hot summer and summer clothes by Veronica at Vronni's Style Meanderings It's certainly a bit of a novelty! As always Vronni shares her stylish outfits - everything thrifted - and what she's been up to. 

Is This Mutton Favourite

A newcomer to the link-up, Jean from Delightful Repast, who's Veering out of the Lane and Talking about Clothes. Specifically, how she manages her closet and stores her clothes.  (Sharp eyed readers will know that I also possess the china in her picture below - it's Old Country Roses by Royal Albert!). 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


  1. Thanks for sharing this post, something I need in my life as I think a thin, uneven top lip! Jacqui x

  2. This is going to be a welcome post to read over a cuppa. I’m so pleased Vronni was last week’s favourite, well deserved.
    Mary xxx.

    1. I always enjoy Vronni's posts, seeing her walks and garden, not to mention amazing outfits! xx

  3. They are very annoying right. I was wondering about miracle blur. Thanks for hosting!

    1. Be interested to know what you think of Miracle Blur. A lot of women tell me they find it tricky

  4. This was an interesting piece as would love fuller lips, especially my top lip, but would never have fillers injected. Is the primer and the lipstick you mentioned from Look fabulous forever rather than Look Fantastic Forever?

    1. You're quite right, now corrected! I was thinking of a certain beauty retailer.

  5. It sounds like an interesting product. I love the colour it is on you it suits your style. Hope your enjoying your week so far and have a great day.



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