Parties always freak me out beacause I panic about The Outfit. Figuring out what bold lip colour I'll wear, though -- that helps. Because guess what? If the smile is in good shape, it holds attention. And I'm not fooling myself with that belief -- studies show a bright smile is the first feature that 53% of Canadians find most attractive when they first meet someone.
I know I talk about bright smiles a lot -- they're so much about confidence and putting others at ease. The way I see it, from smile-ready lips to a healthier mouth to faking whiter teeth, more tips on highlighting one of the best human features can't hurt, right? Besides, one of these next tips means getting in 31,000 brush strokes x 1 minute before 9 am.
four key moves to dress up your smile
1) Winter-proof your lips to keep them smile-ready. Buff away dry patches with a washcloth dampened with hot water, then immediately apply a soft, buttery, squeeze-tube lip balm rather than a waxy stick. An emollient formula such as Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 ($8, sephora.ca) blankets even cracked lips with a soothing layer of conditioning protection. Other options include Kiehl's Lip Balm (from $8.50, kiehls.ca), Biotherm Beurre de Lèvres Lip Balm ($20, biotherm.ca), Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Intensive Lip Repair Balm ($28, Shoppers Drug Mart, The Bay), Live Clean Baby Non-Petroleum Jelly ($7.49, well.ca), and Vaseline Lip Therapy ($1.99, drugstores and mass retailers).
Ingredients such as shea butter, botanical and fruit oils, glycerin and hyaluronic acid are key. Mineral oil (paraffinum liquidum) and petrolatum can also help because they create a wind-proof band-aid effect over lips to keep moisture contained.
Top Tip: Try dabbing lips with hydrating serum before applying lip balm (it's my favourite move for chapped or dry lips).
2) Keep teeth in tip-top shape with a solid regimen that includes twice-daily brushing, flossing before bed, and antiseptic mouthwash every day. Use a power toothbrush such as the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean ($229, Shoppers Drug Mart, Target). This one ups your smile game with 31,000 brush strokes in just one minute, and is clinically proven to deliver whiter teeth in one week. Yes -- that's 31,000 brushstrokes. I kind of count it as one of my day's achievements. (My dentist particularly likes that it has a small brush head so I can get at the backs of my front teeth and way back to my molars.)
If you're a non-flosser (no judgement), you must try the super-fun Philips Sonicare Airfloss ($99, at Shoppers Drug Mart, Target), which cleans between teeth with micro-bursts of air and water. You can do your whole mouth in 30 seconds. Get your mouthwash step in at the same time by filling the Airfloss reservoir with mouthwash instead of water. (Try Listerine Whitening Plus Restoring Rinse ($11.99, well.ca), which contains peroxide for extra surface cleaning, and fluoride to strengthen enamel.) It's actually fun to use, and the extra hit of freshness via the mouthwash -- our Liza is a fan, too; she mentioned her Airfloss love in this "Up Your Smoochability" post.
3) Stash a portable whitening device in your purse for stealth smile brightening. The Phillips Zoom! Whitening Pen (price varies, at select dental offices) is ideal. As well, consider at-home whitening kits, such as Crest 3D Whitestrips 1 Hour Express ($59.99, drugstores), which are absolutely effective for getting your white on in advance. (Finish the box for best results.)
4) Wear bright lip colour with a blue undertone to make teeth look their whitest. Red is classic holiday glamour, but playful fuchsia or violet and sultry deep berry are hot shades this season, too. Try long-wearing Make Up For Ever Aqua Rouge #8 Iconic Red ($29, sephora.ca), a universally-flattering red. For fuchsia or violet, try Butter London Lippy in Queen Vic ($19, butterlondon.ca) or Maybelline New York Color Elixir in Vision in Violet ($11.99, drugstores). Deep berries include Covergirl Lip Perfection Lipstick in Euphoria ($9.99 at drugstores), and Clinique Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in Grandest Grape ($19, clinique.com).
Top Tip: Sure, a blue-based neutral will make your teeth look whiter. But if you have the stones to go bright with your lipstick, you'll get an even better effect. Still wary about wearing bright red, or fuchsia, or any bold shade? Learn to wear bright lipstick fearlessly with this little tutorial. It's a smile game-changer.
"I just like to smile! Smiling's my favourite!" Seriously, best Will Farrell line ever.