How can I tone down my red lips?
December 13, 2007 10:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm a dude and have very red lips. How can I change this?

My lips are very, very red. They don't match my skin complexion at all. I can literally go into Photoshop with one of my pictures and tone down the red on my lips by quite a bit and it then looks normal.

How can I make my lips come down to a more normal level of red for a guy? I'd love to hear any way possible. Thanks :)
posted by Jbgohlke to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The only thing that I can think of is putting a nude concealer on your lips, very sparingly of course. Have people mentioned this to you before? It may just be something that you obsess over but in fact no one else really notices or cares about it. Do you have a link to a non-photoshopped picture?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:10 PM on December 13, 2007

You could get a tan (bad for your skin!) or a fake tan (orange!) and bring the intensity of your skin and lip colors closer together, or you could wear some kind of makeup on your lips: a tiny bit of concealer, as MaryDellamorte says, or a tiny smudge of matte white eye shadow. I suspect that makeup might look a little bit odd if you strike out without a second opinion, and you'd have to touch it up pretty often.

If you feel brave, you could go to Sephora and ask a makeup artist for ideas!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:15 PM on December 13, 2007

You could fake tan to even out the tones, and it wouldn't necessarily look orange. I have used Jergens Natural Glow dailiy moisturizer, and it looked perfectly natural (and helped conceal my undereye bags, which was a big plus). Plus, it has SPF, which is good for your skin, anyway.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:21 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

As for makeup, I think any product not made for lips (concealer, white eye shadow) is going to make your lips look dry and/or ashy, which is not very attractive.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:22 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

As for makeup, I think any product not made for lips (concealer, white eye shadow) is going to make your lips look dry and/or ashy, which is not very attractive.

All he would have to do is layer it over some lip moisturizer.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:24 PM on December 13, 2007

Some lip balms with a physical block sunscreen ingredient (such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) can have a whitening effect. That would mitigate the redness and keep your lips from getting redder.
posted by serialcomma at 10:27 PM on December 13, 2007

I'd say go to a makeup counter at a department store. Might be kinda weird, but I bet they'd be into it and you'd get something that worked, especially if you can give them a printout from Photoshop with what you're looking for.
posted by rhizome at 10:38 PM on December 13, 2007

Response by poster: Here's a picture. Let me know if I'm sane or not :)

Makeup would be ... awkward I think.
posted by Jbgohlke at 10:47 PM on December 13, 2007

I remember that there was one variety of Blistex with a tint in it that would kind of dull my lip color (I think it's intended to add color, but maybe that only works for people with lighter-colored lips). If your drugstore carries it, it's under $2 and might be worth a try.
posted by PY at 10:47 PM on December 13, 2007

I really might be showing my ignorance here but don't vasodilators such as caffeiene bring the blood vessels closer to the surface of the skin? In other words, if you're a big coffee drinker, try going cold turkey for a while.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:51 PM on December 13, 2007

Sane? Well, everyone has little things about them that bother them, so being bothered by your lip color is understandable to me. But there is nothing about your lip color in the pic that stands out to me. Looks like a "normal level" for a guy to me.
posted by PY at 10:52 PM on December 13, 2007

I think your lips look normal in that very blurry, low res photo.
posted by HotPatatta at 10:54 PM on December 13, 2007

Yes, in that poorly-coloured, low-res, blurry photo, your lips look totally normal.

That being said.. you're probably obsessing over nothing. Your choices would be to learn to wear makeup (which is annoying; I honestly don't know how women are able to do it every day), or to get used to it. I'd advise the latter.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:11 PM on December 13, 2007

Best answer: Your lips look fine in that picture to me (and, it seems to several other people). You seem to have high colouring in general (Celtic/Scandinavian rosy cheeks), so it looks consistent, not jarring.

I agree that makeup, no matter how you prep, is not going to work. Your lip texture won't look natural. There may be some specially formulated topical vasoconstrictors on the American market within a couple of years that may be safe to use on your mouth, but the big issue they're trying to iron out in clinical trials is the rebound effect, where the tiny blood vessels dilate with blood again, sometimes painfully, after several hours of constriction. So if anyone recommends that you try any over the counter medication that contains these compounds, for God's sake, don't do it.

Your self-consciousness about your lip colour may be an example of how you, like many of us, are very attuned to what you think is a very obvious feature that just isn't noticeable for other people. Try a fake tan and see how it works. But otherwise, I'd recommend just shrugging your shoulders and letting it go. You look fine, really.
posted by maudlin at 11:12 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Your lips look fine to me. Maybe slightly redder than normal, but IMO that's not such a bad thing! :)
posted by Count Ziggurat at 11:15 PM on December 13, 2007

Give it seven years. :)
posted by salvia at 11:19 PM on December 13, 2007

Those lips look sorta red, but not bozo the clown red. Changing your hair color would also change their appearance (I think) but they don't look freakish or anything, and there is probably a hot woman who likes that look and you don't want to chase her off.
posted by mecran01 at 11:20 PM on December 13, 2007

I have noticed that this kind of ChapStick subtly whitens my lips a bit. Worth a try for $3. The ingredient you're looking for is titanium dioxide- or zinc oxide, I guess- both are fine white powders sometimes added to sunscreen & makeup to create a physical barrier on the skin that blocks light. I think titanium dioxide would be subtler & more natural looking than zinc oxide, though, which can look kind opaque and clowny.

But for what it's worth, in my opinion, your lips in that (underexposed & blurry) pic don't stand out as unusually red.
And you kinda look like Jared Leto. I'm just saying.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:24 PM on December 13, 2007

Yes, your lips look like they're a totally normal level of red for a guy.

You might be a little self-conscious about them, but do realize that some girls and guys are turned on by this type of coloring... so work it! Flaunt it! Actually, just don't even think about it. You really do look fine.
posted by QueSeraSera at 11:37 PM on December 13, 2007

Nthing the "you look fine" comments.

I think almost anybody falls into that trap at some point. We notice something unusual about us, get overly self-conscious and believe it to be an obvious "flaw" that just everybody must notice. The more you look into the mirror, the stranger you will begin to look to yourself. This path clearly leads to madness :) Just relax.
posted by Nightwind at 12:48 AM on December 14, 2007

After looking at the picture, I don't think you have anything to worry about, at all. There's nothing wrong with your lips being slightly more colored than others, it's not a bad thing. I think you're just obsessing over it but I can totally understand the concept. I have an extra tooth which slightly crowds my other teeth which in turn makes them slightly crooked. My parents could never afford me braces so for years I obsessed over my teeth, thinking they were hideous. I never smiled and I talked in such a way that you couldn't see my teeth. I'm 27 now and only in the last few years have I started letting this go. My teeth really aren't that crooked but in the height of my obsession with them, they appeared worse in my eyes. I smile now, letting my teeth show, and I don't care who sees my them. I actually kind of embrace the fact that I have strange teeth. It's not everyday that you meet someone with an extra tooth, I even freak out the dentists. Hardly anyone even notices my teeth are crooked anyhow. We aren't all formed from the same mold and we're all different, and that's the beauty of it. I say you shouldn't worry about your lips. When you're old and weathered and after your colors have faded out, you're going to wonder why you ever had an issue with it in the first place. One last thing, judging from the picture, I think you're very attractive. Damn boy, you got it going on!
posted by MaryDellamorte at 1:34 AM on December 14, 2007

Judging from that horrible picture I'd say you're stressing over nothing. I've been led to believe, in fact, that red lips are attractive to both women and men alike. You may, as MaryDellamorte says, have 'it going on', and not even be aware of it. Lucky man.
posted by Pecinpah at 3:36 AM on December 14, 2007

You look good, don't ever change.

To answer the question, I'd go with what someone above suggested, which is zinc on the lips. It will tone them down (not that they need it) and if anyone gives you shit, you say you're protecting yerself from melanomas (this may be harder to explain if you're in the middle of winter, but then you could mention the fact that snowburn sucks too, as I remember from my one and only trip to the snow without sunscreen). It comes in all different colours (my googlefu is fucked but I know that there are fluorescent colours out there) but I'm sure you could find one (like a flesh tone) which would help you blend in nicely, if that's what you want.
posted by h00py at 3:52 AM on December 14, 2007

Ya, it doesn't look odd at all. We all fixate on stuff that others don't notice. Like me with my big nose. I make jokes about having big nose. And other people just say... wait... yeah, they say I have a big nose too. So that's not a good example. But in your case, everything looks fine. Yer kinda blurry though, so you may want to check into that.
posted by The Deej at 4:21 AM on December 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Your lips look totally normal - and I'm a model agent, so I critique everyone's looks 24/7.

If you're really concerned though, salvia has the right idea. As you age, the color will fade, as I am now finding out. I never understood why anyone would want to wear lipstick, my lips were perfectly fine, until I got older. Then I realized that I had all of my imperfections would always be imperfections and I just had to suck it up. Each individual notices their individual faults more than anyone else's, which mean no one else is looking for your imperfections because they're too busy worrying about their own.

So to summarize my very long-winded explanation: it will all turn out good in the end. In the meantime, flaunt it while you got it.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 5:19 AM on December 14, 2007

Even looking for your lips to be super-red, I don't see it.
posted by 4ster at 5:43 AM on December 14, 2007

Normal. And you'll look weird with makeup on your lips.
posted by desuetude at 6:21 AM on December 14, 2007

You're very attractive. Don't change a thing!
posted by infinityjinx at 7:39 AM on December 14, 2007

Are you dehydrated? My lips are a lot redder when I'm dehydrated, which happens a lot if I don't kill myself drinking water.
posted by shownomercy at 7:47 AM on December 14, 2007

they don't look noticeably red. you are probably far more self-conscious about it than is warranted. i doubt people even notice it.
posted by violetk at 9:20 AM on December 14, 2007

I think your complexion and coloring looks very Scandinavian, and completely normal. If you want to see what that looks like on other people, try here .

As someone who teaches college and had a fair amount of Scandinavian students one year (transfer program), I can tell you that college girls think it is a VERY hot look :) Don't do a thing to change!
posted by jeanmari at 10:22 AM on December 14, 2007

You can buy light colored matte lipstick, but it will look like you are wearing lipstick, and then it will look like you are wearing lipstick that has started to wear off and show your natural lip color underneath. Unless you are trying to attract people who like men in lipstick, listen to the people here who are telling you you have normal coloration.
posted by yohko at 11:25 AM on December 14, 2007

After actually viewing the picture, my first reaction is:
Hey, you're cute!

I suggest that you approach 100 people that you wouldn't mind kissing under the guise of a survey as to whether they find your lips attractive.
posted by yohko at 11:34 AM on December 14, 2007

Are you sure you're not just in heat?

No, seriously, it looks fine. Stop obsessing about that. Replace it with something else...
posted by tcv at 11:50 AM on December 14, 2007

my first response was also 'he's cute!' and not in a let's-make-the-guy-feel-better way.

i know this isn't what you want to hear, but we all have things we obsess about. i have small breasts and a big ass. i'm not overweight but i'm definitely not slender either. when i was younger i believed this meant that i was fugly and everyone was staring at my enormous ass. when i got older i discovered that some people were actually staring at my enormous ass because they wanted to see it naked.

you could put a lot of time and effort into attempting to change your lip color, but it seems like a lot more fun and less effort to just find someone who'll suck on your bottom lip and tell you how hot your lips are. judging by the picture it shouldn't be that difficult.
posted by groovinkim at 3:10 PM on December 14, 2007

It's a feature, not a bug.
posted by zippy at 11:31 AM on December 15, 2007

« Older Why 'argument'?   |   My new Macbook screen has poor contrast and... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.