It’s the hap-happiest time of the year! The holiday festivities are on their way, and that means your smile is about to start putting in some serious overtime—whether posing for pictures or blowing air kisses at a different party each night. Oh, the pressure!
Of course, your grin is often the first thing people notice about you, and speaks for you even before you say a single word. In fact, a recent Harris Interactive survey found that 55 percent of adults say they use your smile to judge your personality, stating it's the best indicator of friendliness, while 89 percent think a bright smile makes a good first impression.
But don’t fret—even if yours isn’t in the same league as Julia Roberts’ (the most popular female celebrity smile, according to a Trident survey), follow these easy tips to makeover your mouth… without resorting to anything drastic, painful, or ridiculously expensive.
#1 Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
Combine colder weather and dry indoor heat, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a sahara-like smile. Nothing’s less appealing than lips that are tight, chapped, and about to crack, not matter how much gloss and lipstick you slap on them to hide the damage. The solution is simple: Wear lip balm at all times. “I have it in every room and every purse,” says Maybelline makeup artist Melissa Silver. “Use a richer one at night and when you're not wearing lipstick, and choose a lighter one under lipstick. Just apply it a few minutes before you put on makeup so it has time to absorb.” Try: The Body Shop Shea Lip Care Stick.
#2 Use corrective color
When picking a lip color, pass on any shade that detracts from your smile. “If your teeth aren't super white, avoid anything with orange, yellow, or dull tones, and opt for a clear-toned bright shade like Maybelline New York Color Sensational Lipcolor in Red Revival,” advisesSilver.
#3 Beware the bleeding lip line
No matter how friendly the grin or how dazzling the teeth, once lipstick starts creeping toward your nose, things get messy…quick. Silver advises dusting a bit of translucent powder onto lips and over the lip line onto skin so that color can better adhere to it. For extra insurance, apply a nude or clear lip liner like L’Oreal Paris Crayon Petite Automatic Lip Liner in Clear. (Don’t even think about reaching for a shade darker than your lipstick!) Then apply lip color with a matte finish for extra staying power. If you love the look of gloss, just dab it onto the center of your lips so it doesn't creep out to the edges.
#4 Practice makes perfect
Take a few minutes to get up close and personal with your mirror, and your smile. Does your top lip disappear when you grin? Does your smile look better when your lips are apart or together? Most of us look best with teeth slightly parted, so that the lower teeth aren’t hiding behind the uppers (and you don’t look like your clenching your teeth). Tucking the tongue behind your teeth helps keep your face relaxed while making lips look fuller.
#5 Lighten up
Brush twice daily with toothpaste that contains baking soda to help scrub away surface stains. If you’re having a smile emergency, try a fast-acting lightening product like Luster 1 Hour White. The three-step process includes mouth rinse, brush-on gel, and a whitening light, and lightens teeth up to six shades in less than 60 minutes.
#6 Get gorgeous gums
Since your gums are front and center each time you smile, keep them looking pink and healthy (instead of grey, or red and irritated) while getting rid of the yellowing that often occurs in-between teeth (where plaque builds up) by using a whitening floss. Then follow up with a quick gargle of brightening mouthwash like Listerine Whitening Plus Restoring Fluoride Rinse to make sure you reach even those areas that floss misses.
#7 Munch on fibrous foods
Hard, fibrous foods like apples, carrots, and broccoli have an exfoliating effect and help remove surface stains, so put a few of these munchies on your plate next time you go to a cocktail party to counteract the effects of that staintastic red wine you’re sipping.
About the Author:Karina Giglio is a lifestyle, beauty and health writer whose work has appeared in numerous national publications including Women’s Health, Washingtonian, Ladies Home Journal, OK!, Allure, Fitness, Marie Claire, Bride’s and The New York Post. She was a regular contributor to makeup.com, and her articles and blog posts can be found on prevention.com, dailyglow.com, yahoo.com and huffingtonpost.com. Karina has worked onstaff at Cosmopolitan and YM, as well as being part of the original Sephora.com launch team