Lips on trend


We take a look at changes in lip fashion over the past century and investigate the trending lips of today.

Fashions change over time, and every decade since the beginning of the century has had its own look, defined by clothes, hair, make-up, and even lips. It wasn’t so long ago that Jessica Alba was the poster girl for perfect lips, but now it’s all about Kylie Jenner. Everyone wants fuller, plump and pouty lips, but when it comes to looking natural not one size fits all.

Norwegian plastic surgeon Dr Stein Tveten has studied the influence of lips on our culture, including their social psychology, sexuality and position as a fashion accessory. He developed a technique called ‘lip sculpturing’, which uses semi-permanent dermal fillers to accentuate the natural features of the lips.

Dr Tveten says: ‘It is interesting to look at the way lip fashions have evolved and the directions they will take in the new millennium.’

In the 1920s ‘rosebud lips’ of deep red were fashionable and popularised by pin-ups such as Gloria Swanson. In the 1930s the natural lines of the lips were accentuated with the upper lip being wider than the lower. Joan Crawford, renowned for her wide mouth, sported this arrogant look – and by all accounts an attitude to match.

Marlene Dietrich in the 1940s also had an arrogant look, but the 1940s somewhat reverted to the ‘cupid’s bow’ of the 1920s, while keeping the broader upper lip of the 1930s. Judy Garland had these lips accentuated with strong colour and Ingrid Bergman wore hers with a natural look. In the 1950s Marilyn Monroe epitomised the ideal in lips (and everything else). Her strong mouth, with a shorter lower lip emphasised by natural lines, was sensually highlighted by her open-mouthed smile, exaggerated by lip gloss.

Shunning the vividly coloured lips of previous eras, the free-love decade of the 1960s saw pale colours and nude shades prevailing, taken from the hippie look and worn successfully by Twiggy and Natalie Wood. This carried through into the 1970s, a decade where clothes seemed more important than make-up. It was lucky for Jane Fonda that the absolutely natural fashion of the time supported her social/political views so strongly.

In a complete turnaround from the hippie and vagrant look of the previous 20 years, the 1980s heralded shock, gloss and glam. Kim Basinger and Kim Wilde pouted in pinks and violets and frosts and slicks.

This trend increased up until the 1990s, which is best summed up by the words ‘extremely big lips’. With lip augmentation growing in popularity it didn’t matter what colour was being worn – lips were full on the top and full on the bottom and tended to wear the hungry look of Marilyn Monroe, combined with a slightly slack-jawed expression. We’re thinking Pamela Anderson and Elizabeth Hurley here.

At the start of the new millennium, some were saying the ‘Geisha lip’, seen on Queen Amidala in The Phantom Menace, would be the new direction. Dr Tveten did not believe it would have a long fashion cycle, ‘People will look to a more natural, correct ‘cupid’s bow’. Any correction done to the lip will highlight the lips’ sensuality and sensitivity, taking care of small details and definitions,’ he explains. ‘I believe the upper lip should not look like the lower lip. This definition has been lost to some degree in the 1980s and 1990s.’

Lips help represent sexuality and communicate one’s personality to the world – and people often look to change or perfect their lips when they do not naturally convey qualities in the way they would like.

Today many plastic and cosmetic surgeons have found the most common look requested in their practices is the Kylie Jenner lip. To achieve this look, filler is usually injected into the ‘wet/dry’ line of the lip, which is where the inside of the mouth becomes the outside part of the lip. Filler is put along the outside of this line and then a little in the middle, so there is some prominence there. The most common temporary fillers usually last about six to nine months.

It has been suggested that the key to achieving good looking lips is to keep it real and take it slow – it’s all in respecting the anatomy of your natural lip.