Dermatogist and homeopath, Dr Geneviève Mao, talks without taboos about all kinds of lips, ageing issues and common medical practice.
GLENN MARTENS (GM) ⏤ A young mouth is commonly pretty fleshy. Of course, there are very thin lips but they are not part of the canons of beauty. What one calls “normal” lips are the well-hemmed and firm lips. You recognize young and healthy lips when they are properly vascular, with bright colours like pink or red; they’re rarely pale. Then little by little, our lips get older. They become paler and thinner because they are less vascular, and finally lose their fleshiness and curve.
JEAN-CHRISTOPHE HUSSON (JCH) ⏤ The fleshiness of young lips is fixed in our collective memory, isn’t it?
GM ⏤ Yes, however lips become thinner with the age. It alters the overall morphology of the mouth and the lower face. Our gums and teeth become more visible.
JCH ⏤ Aesthetically, it’s a very big deal!
GM ⏤ Absolutely! That’s how the concept of lips filling by injection has emerged! For instance, what we call the “arc of Cupid”, just above the upper lip, becomes blurred with age. The lips’ contour is less hemmed, rounded and clearly defined. Therefore, women can now get artificial lips’enhancement by hyaluronic acid’s injections.
JCH ⏤ Ageing lips are losing their original “shape” and colours. That explains the importance of red lipstick, doesn’t it?
GM ⏤ The more a women ages the more she feels a need to put on red lipstick, even the ones who did not put any when they were young. Today, I understand the need to put on lipstick. When I was younger I considered that I did not need that! Instead, I was putting makeup on my eyes and so on… When ageing, women need to highlight their lips. Overall, it makes their whole face look well!
JCH ⏤ As a dermatologist, what are the types of lips care you usually deal with? Are they linked to aesthetic and symbolic issues?
GM ⏤ The main issue with lips is that they get dry, chapped and less soft. Women cannot stand the fact that their lips are not smooth anymore. The image of their lips gets in total contradiction with the healthy fleshy advertised lips. And when lips get chapped, lipstick does not settle properly anymore. You can’t even use lipstick as a seductive tool anymore. And then comes the decrease and loss of the kiss. Kissing a young woman with chapped lips is far less pleasant than kissing one with soft lips. Sensuality is a major issue.
JCH ⏤ Most men view lipstick as a tool of seduction and eroticism, and very few understand the more intimate connection between a woman and her makeup, and her lipstick in particular.
What do you think about makeup and lipstick in particular as being part of the construction of female identity? Do young women construct and accept it step by step: from the first gloss to the first red lipstick? As the same way there is a first bra? Before being linked to men, is the female identity built for and within the women’s community? Is it part of the life and sexuality of every young girls and women?
GM ⏤ Nowadays, young women try on red lipstick from time to time, which was not even conceivable not long ago. It’s a fantasy, and very much a sexual fantasy. A twenty-year-old woman does not really feel comfortable with her own identity, with her image as “a woman”. And sometimes, the boyfriend is the one stressing this doubt: “Don’t put on this lipstick, it makes you look like a whore”. It is a learning process! I want to seduce but I need to find my own balance!
JCH ⏤ Are you saying it is a step to achieve in woman’s life? That a woman has to accept and claim her intention: I want to seduce?
GM ⏤ Exactly!
JCH ⏤ She wonders whether or not “her own seduction can be purely natural, without artefact”.
GM ⏤ Exactly!
JCH ⏤ Is lipstick a lip care?
GM ⏤ Yes of course. I recommend lipstick as a lip care as it hydrates and protects the lips. Nowadays, lip care is a great component in women makeup purchase decision-making. And because healthy lips are defined as soft and fleshy, they need to be hydrated.
JCH ⏤ Lips build on the imaginative – should I say - “fleshy” world of feminity, don’t they?
GM ⏤ Yes, they are part of the sexual fantasy. An open mouth is an open sex.
JCH ⏤ Is there a specific typology of medical and lip care?
GM ⏤ Eczema comes first. When someone suffers from eczema, lips get dry and sore as soon as one eats. One loses the pleasure of eating.
JCH ⏤ In your medical practice, do you see “modified” lips by injections?
GM ⏤ Yes of course. I see more and more women with retouched lips. Sometimes, it’s just a tiny retouch to smooth out the lips!
JCH ⏤ In your opinion, within all surgical lip care (hyaluronic acid, botox), what is the ratio between cure and aesthetic modification? Can injection cure injured lips?
GM ⏤ No, they’re purely aesthetic!
JCH ⏤ Do you feel that some women need to “retouch” their sexual image?
GM ⏤ Within the ageing process, yes! I have beautiful lips, I’m still young, so I have a young sex.
JCH ⏤ A female sex’s shape, what we call lips, evolves. After giving birth for instance! This is common to every woman and still it seems to be taboo.
GM ⏤ Yes! We don’t talk enough about it. The sex is losing its elasticity. The sex of a young lady is not the same as the one of a mature one, neither of the one of a thirty or forty-year-old.
JCH ⏤ Can we get care for this?
GM ⏤ Nowadays, we offer vaginal lips’ lifting. However, it is more complicated than mouth care. The relevant care would be through hormones to bring the lips’ tonicity back.
JCH ⏤ Through injections?
GM ⏤ No! Injections are only recommended on a sexological level. For instance, one can get injections around the G spot to increase its sensitivity and have more pleasure. And when it relies to the external aspect, when the lips are deformed or too big, we cut! When ageing, it’s the opposite; lips get smaller. From too big, they become far too little! And it’s even a bigger issue with thin lips… they get smaller and can almost disappear.
JCH ⏤ Let’s go back to the mouth. Are there different behaviours specific to the community and the socio-cultural stratums one belongs?
GM ⏤ I take care of Asian, African and Arab women and I don’t see any differences.
JCH ⏤ Even in the use of the red lipstick?
GM ⏤ African women might still have difficulties finding their colour, the right one for them. It is more complicated to find a colour that stands out. It’s very important as they have fuller and fleshier lips. They tend to put on very strong colours like purple, black and red gloss.
JCH ⏤ Do you have any comment on red lipstick’s substance and shininess; from the gloss with its fully wet feeling ... to red mat.
GM ⏤ Of course, the mat effect is more chic. It’s an aesthetic code; the anti bling-bling! Shine effect symbolizes the power of youth and attraction, the declared desire and self-confidence. To conclude, I would say that one should never forget that a beautiful mouth is above all a beautiful smile. And well-hemmed lips make a beautiful smile