Upgrade your smile
The phrase is an emotional lightning rod, but there’s real power in a killer grin. By Kate Sandoval Box.
Being told to smile is supremely annoying.
It’s condescending, for one. “And it tends to make us angry because we know it can take away our credibility,” says Patti Wood, the author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma. If we do acquiesce, we’re probably faking it. “I never ask a model to smile. It wouldn’t look real,” photographer Kourosh Sotoodeh says. “I capture a smile when the model is talking and moving, and it comes naturally.” Yet mounting evidence shows we’ve become a nation of grinners. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley who studied yearbook photos from the 1900s to the 2010s found that we used to pose stoically but now are likely to break into big toothy smiles. “When I started working on beauty images for magazines [in the 1990s], models and celebrities didn’t want to smile because, they said, it made their eyes squinty and their cheeks puff out,” says Linda Wells, the chief creative officer of Revlon. Now the brand’s Live Boldly campaign features spokesmodels in full grin mode. Considering that smiling releases mood-boosting hormones and neuropeptides that tell the body you’re in a positive state of mind, are we all walking around feeling happier than ever? Only if what’s showing on the outside reflects what you’re feeling inside. “When you smile for a selfie and then immediately drop it, you may only get a short high,” Wood says. “Our brains need feedback from another person to keep the chemicals flowing.” You also have to form what’s called a Duchenne, or true, smile. “That happens when you pull the corners of your mouth up and engage the eye muscles so little crow’s-feet appear,” Wood says. Surely one of the best ways to activate this true smile is with some killer lips. For grinspiration: Read on for the latest treatments and smile-shifting techniques.
Way beyond your basic clear balm, new lip treatments offer deeply hydrating ingredients and subtle hues to make your lips smoother and more radiant. Wear one on its own—Clarins Hydra-Quench Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm ( RM88, clarins.com.my) has the perfect pink tone to create a natural-looking glow—or use it to prep your lips for bold colour. “The moisture helps lipstick glide on evenly,” makeup artist Lottie Stannard says. Apply a thin layer (Sephora Coconut Lip Balm, RM26, from Sephora) then blot, or the colour you put on top will eventually migrate, she says.
If you want to make your smile look more symmetrical, grab a lip liner. “Fill in the thinner side with a pencil that is the same shade as your lipstick,” Stannard says. “You can also relax the muscle that’s pulling on your smile unevenly with an injection of Botox,” says plastic surgeon Dr. Sachin Shridharani. ( From RM30 per unit, Astute Clinic). To conceal gums, consider a lip filler like Juvéderm Volbella XC, “which volumizes in a really natural way,” Dr. Shridharani says. ( Price: RM2,200, Astute Clinic) “It can also bolster downturned corners.” Strategic lip colour helps too: Apply it only to the center of your lips, Stannard says. Then press together to blend.