How I blitzed my ‘barcode lips’: AMANDA PLATELL tried a novel beauty tweakment to banish the little lines around the mouth that women get as they age
At last I have something in common with Kate Moss. Sadly, it’s not the supermodel looks, the bank balance or the Cotswolds country pile.
She aged 48, me 16 years older at 64, are both unfortunate enough to have ‘barcode’ lips. This is when horrible vertical lines develop as part of the ageing process. Also known as ‘lipstick lines’ they appear most prominently above top lips but can also develop under the lower lip, whether a smoker, like Kate, or not. Technically they’re called ‘perioral’ lines.
Whatever name you prefer, it’s all shorthand for those ghastly grooves that just get deeper as the years pass and age us horribly.
Smokers may develop the lines prematurely but no woman can avoid them altogether. They develop just from talking, laughing, living and — worst of all — sunbathing.
Mine first started to bother me five years ago, the result of growing up in Australia in the days before sun damage was truly understood — and a casual smoking habit.
As we get older we lose collagen, the protein that keeps our faces plumped and elastic. Depressingly, it starts to deplete at age 30. By 50, we’re lucky to have any left at all.
Amanda, pictured left before her treatment and right afterwards, asked her prescribing nurse practitioner Lee Garrett how to get rid of the ‘barcode’ lines on her face and had an Upper Lip Rejuvenation Treatment which he said could help reduce them
I was particularly struck by the sight of this ‘barcode lip’ affliction at a friend’s ladies-only 60th-birthday lunch recently. Seated around the table were a bunch of beautiful women who’d looked after themselves over the years, yet all had succumbed to barcode lips.
Most had never smoked, a few had spent too many hours in the sun and, naturally, the subject came around to ‘what the hell can we do about our crinkled lips?’
You can have the freshly dyed, bouncily blow-dried hair, designer dresses and a honed and toned body from all those gym and Pilates sessions — but lipstick lines will date you like a shaggy perm and frosted lipstick.
So having turned 64 and on a mission to banish the barcode, I called the only man I would ever trust with my face, Lee Garrett, and asked what I could do.
As readers may know, I am no stranger to cosmetic tweaks that slow the ageing process.
My relationship with Lee (yes I am on first name terms with my cosmetic practitioner) has survived two decades, more than that of any boyfriend. More importantly, he knows my face and how to tweak it. He’s a ‘less is more’ physician, a tender sculptor.
I will not and never have had a facelift. I draw the line at knives. Needles I’m okay with for dermal fillers or baby Botox, which I have had and written about.
Every six months, over the past two decades, I’ve had ‘something done’ on my face— and I’ve always been honest about it. No fibbing and attributing my smooth complexion to plenty of sleep and two litres of water a day, as so many do.
There was the ‘vampire’ facial favoured by Jennifer Aniston, where your blood is sucked out, the good bits are extracted then reinjected into your skin to rejuvenate it. Then there was the ‘Smurf’ blue chemical peel that made my skin fall off and had children fleeing in horror in M&S when they saw me.
I consider myself something of a trailblazer in the field of cosmetic procedures having had my first treatment in my 40s at a time when such things were still taboo.
After talking to Lee, he said that while he couldn’t completely do away with my barcodes, which would be a miracle, they could be reduced with Upper Lip Rejuvenation Treatment. I booked in.
Amanda, pictured having the treatment, firstly had a numbing cream applied and then her face measured before Lee administered tiny injections across her cheeks, nasolabial folds and marionette lines. The lipstick lines were treated by injecting filler in an upwards direction
The treatment isn’t new but Lee custom tweaks it so that the injections are tailored to each face. It’s one of his most in-demand procedures and he told me that recently he had a day where he did nothing but lip smoothing.
The first step was to apply a numbing cream which took half an hour to work. Then he measured my face with a calliper — a bit like an old-fashioned geometry compass — to find the sweet spot on my cheeks where he injected Belotero (a dermal filler with a hyaluronic base) to replace lost collagen.
Cheek filler may sound strange as part of a lip procedure but, as Lee explained, our full, youthful cheeks are all part of the scaffolding that holds our face up and lifting them will give a better lip result.
He drew lines on my face with a white crayon, first from halfway down from the sides of my nose to my lips — where the nasolabial folds are — or ‘grumpy lines,’ as I call them. Then around my marionette lines, which run from the corner of the bottom lips to the chin that, with age, make lips droop slightly and we look sad.
When it came to my barcode upper lip there was no need for crayon to mark them out. The skin above my top lip was as dry and cracked as a Saharan riverbed after a drought.
Lee then gave me several tiny injections, using the same filler. First in my cheeks, then in the nasolabial folds, then the marionette lines, to smooth out the other lines around my lips before tackling the barcode. The lipstick lines were treated individually by injecting a little filler in an upwards direction — the ‘blanching’ technique.
After 45 minutes I was done and hadn’t felt a thing. I put on some lipstick and slap and went out for lunch.
Amanda said that she had the same barcode lines which Kate Moss has and that can be caused by smoking
I was relieved there was none of the unsightly swelling or redness I had anticipated.
The next day I had one tiny bruise half the size of a pin head and was on live TV that night.
Within days I noticed the difference, those lines not completely gone but clearly smoothed. For those feeling queasy at the thought of it all and dreading ending up with a hideously unnatural trout pout, there was nothing injected into my actual lips. No industrial quantities of collagen, no derma lip fillers so favoured by celebrities. You can see the result on reality TV stars, like so many on Love Island.
During the fortnight since I’ve had the treatment, friends say my face looks ‘fresh’ and that I appear younger. One even had the temerity to poke my lips to make sure that they hadn’t been filled. Even she was satisfied.
While the injections didn’t sting, some may wince at the price. The treatment starts at £900, the worse your lines — the more filler you’ll need.
And the treatment will need topping up in three months time a further £555.
Yes it’s a lot during this cost-of-living crisis, but I worked out it was less than I might spend in a year on frocks I hardly ever wear, overseas holidays I don’t want to go on and careless Deliveroos when I can’t be bothered to cook.
With the cosmetic industry in the UK currently worth £3.6 billion, I know I am not alone in trying to hold back the years.
And while I have the greatest admiration for women who choose to grow older gracefully I, like millions of others, am not one of them.
- Lee Garrett is a prescribing nurse practitioner at Cosmetic Skin Clinic (cosmeticskinclinic.com).
Needlephobic? Just try these facial exercises instead
By Luke Bajjon, master trainer at London’s FaceGym, the workout studio for your face.
Many of us train the muscles in our body so why don’t we do the same with the 40 plus muscles in our face?
There’s nothing wrong with fillers or Botox but facial exercises can bring similar results — and help you age gracefully — without the need for needles.
I have clients who come to my class as a last resort before tweakments — and often cancel their appointments because the exercises are so effective.
Obviously, you can’t completely alter the shape of your face as with plastic surgery. But you can strengthen your face muscles, just as you would if you wanted toned biceps. The muscles are the scaffolding of the face — the skin is attached to them so if the muscle is firmer, then the skin will be tighter too.
We also hold tension in our facial muscles which restricts the lymphatic system, cutting blood flow and collagen production.
These exercises and facial massage techniques can lift, tone and sculpt the face, preventing skin from sagging and fine lines from appearing.
They can even soften fine lines that have already appeared and tone loose skin.
We see people get results straight away, but the most noticeable change happens after seven days, often with comparable results to Botox or filler. To maintain this, however, you should aim to do the exercises every day.
Try these four movements at home, applying facial oil or moisturiser beforehand to ensure you get a good slip and glide technique.
Start with 5-8 reps of each exercise. I recommend doing them in the morning and evening alongside your skincare routine. And who knows, you may well end up cancelling that tweakment.
Point your index finger and make a hook, as in the first picture, above. Place this at the base of your cheekbone and then move it upwards with a medium pressure, following the line of the cheekbone. Keep a constant lifting motion. This will leave you with visibly lifted and sculpted cheeks.
Make a peace sign and then curl your fingers over to create two ‘bunny hooks’. See second picture. Place one hook under the chin and the other on top. With a medium pressure sweep your hooks towards the back of the jaw in an upwards motion, lifting constantly.
Place your fingertips on your nasolabial folds (the lines running from the side of your nose to the edge of the mouth). See third picture. Lift the muscle one finger after the other in a gliding and lifting motion. I call this one caterpillar fingers as you want to keep your fingers moving never letting the muscles drop.
THE LIP PLUMPER
Using your index finger and thumb, press your lips together in the centre then glide outwards following the line of your smile. Press and lift upwards as you do this. The exercise boosts blood flow, stimulates collagen production and plumps fine lines, like barcode lips.
As told to Ciara Dossett
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