Galpal Sally has a problem

Before I headed into the revision cave–did I mention that’s where I am? Yep, from March 7-April 30. These posts were written and scheduled and I am not really here. It’s like I’m ghost-posting!–I put out a call on Twitter for people to ask questions in case they had a particular topic they’d like to see addressed here. My pal, the talented and fabulous writer and human Sally Kilpatrick posted this:

I need a lipstick that doesn’t cause my lips to chap and peel. It’s been my eternal quest, and I have a feeling only you can help me. Any kind of daily care would help, too, I’m sure. I’ve tried all sorts and am beginning to think I have an allergy to some common ingredient.

Well, I’m glad you asked, darling. First, I’m a big believer in never having naked lips. I always keep a stick of Burt’s Bees lip balm handy–peppermint or grapefruit. They do a nice tinted lip balm if you want a faint stain, but I take a dim view of the fact that my favorite dark rosy shade comes with a pomegranate flavor. (Nothing that is flavored with pomegranate actually tastes of pomegranate, IMO.) Your mileage may vary. A plain Vitamin E stick will do, but I’ve never found Carmex to be worth the burn. If you’re prone to peeling and chapping, keeping your lips covered and making sure you’re hydrated will help. (I drink about 100 ounces of water a day when I work out, so it’s possible you need extra fluid.)

A tiny, VERY soft toothbrush–something from the baby department–is a great way to exfoliate your lips if you must. DO NOT PEEL OR BITE THEM. I know that was shouty, but all you’ll do is shred them to ribbons. Lips are sensitive, so be kind.

If you want color, I’m a big fan of keeping two things in your cosmetic drawer: a perfect red and a perfect neutral. This can take AGES to find, but there’s also such a thing as a “good enough” red and a “perfectly serviceable” neutral. The trick to the former is knowing what kind of red suits your skin tone. Orange-based reds are VERY difficult for most people to pull off, but the people who need them look dreadful in blue-reds. As in some sort of dire liver complaint dreadful. A clean cherry red is good but not easy to find. And steer clear of anything with brown, brick, or coral unless your skin tone is very specific. From the drugstore, British Red by L’Oreal is a good gateway red, and I’m partial to Urban Decay’s F-Bomb.

The process for red is this: lips must be hydrated and free of chapping. If not, wear something else because the red will look hideous. Use a matte lip crayon in a similar red to your lipstick as a base layer–NARS makes a lovely one. Blot it, then apply again. Blot again. Apply two layers of lipstick the same way. Be warned, matte lipstick is very difficult to pull off. Far better to go with a bit of cream and blot off a little of the shine. (Matte will also drain your lips of moisture, so tread carefully there too.) If you are going for something easy, a bit of the blotted lip crayon makes a nice stain with a touch of balm over the top of it. (This will not last well, so be warned you’ll have to reapply. The lipstick over two layers of crayon should see you through HOURS.)

Finding a good natural color is hideously difficult. I still haven’t cracked it. The first point is knowing that anything sold as “nude” will most likely not match your skin tone and might possibly make you look cadaverous. Stick with a rose, mauve, coral, or brown depending on the actual color of your lips and if you find a perfect match, marry it.

Also, I had a request to help Tweep Jody whose cat was constipated. I say feed it a nice, oily sardine and then get out of the way.

(If you’re in the Charlottesville area, come see me this weekend at the Virginia Festival of the Book! Details here.)