Long Philtrum - Big Space Between Nose & Upper Lip - Dilemma of the Week - Makeup

I have a significant space between my nose and (very thin) upper lip. To make matters worse, the area is accentuated by facial hair, and lately, I've noticed the skin tone there doesn't seem to match the rest of my face. What can I do?

I totally relate. I have a long philtrum, too, and thus am very aware of women who share a similar facial structure such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Mia Farrow and Oprah, not that I haven't looked at Penelope Cruz and felt downright cheated. (Just being honest!) I believe that taking pride in what we have to work with is the best thing to do, so cheers to the wider spaced among us!

But if you feel your self-confidence is seriously affected, there is a surgical procedure that shortens the length of the philtrum area. It's called a lip lift and I consulted with Dr. Thomas W. Loeb who explained how it works: A small incision is made under the nostrils, the skin there is trimmed and slightly pulled up, shortening the length, and stitches are removed one week later. Dr. Loeb says he takes advantage of nature's fold to hide the tiny scar and insists that the patient looks better immediately.

As for the difference in skin tone you mention, I suspect that may be a slight shadow caused by hair growth in the area. Once you've successfully employed one of the following methods of hair removal, I'll bet the tone matches right up. If not, foundation comes to the rescue. (Check out my column on foundation.)

Here are some options for hair removal:

  • Lighten the hair with facial bleach and then trim the hairs with small facial scissors. I recommend using a magnifying mirror. (This is actually the method I use.)
  • Facial depilatories are an option, too. They dissolve the hair, though they often have a rather unpleasant odor.
  • Consult a laser specialist for permanent hair removal. This is a relatively new technique and rather costly, but I understand very effective.
  • Never, ever, under any circumstances, shave this area, as it's likely to stimulate hardier hair growth.

I know plenty of women who swear by lip waxing. Personally, I can't recommend that method because I've had bad experiences resulting in rashlike bumps and little pimples.

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