What is MLBB lipstick? – The New York Times
The tried and true beauty tips are associated with pain: bite your lips until they are reddened, or scrub them with a toothbrush, or pinch your fingertips or cheeks.
But to find the elusive hue that has come to be known as “my lips but better” – theoretically indistinguishable from the natural lip color, but usually a bit darker – some experts suggest simply examining different fleshy parts of the body. No manipulation required.
“A lot of people say it goes with your gums,” said Rachel Goodwin, a makeup artist. This is “a decent version” of another popular recommendation (nipples), though she has heard even more naughty versions.
Finding MLBB in a lipstick, balm, gloss, oil, or pencil is the ultimate beauty trick: wearing products without looking like you’re wearing products. This is old magic reborn as “no makeup makeup” in the 1990s and converted by nature-look evangelist Bobbi Brown.
It resurfaced in the 2010s when Americans began to thirst for glowing Korean beauty trends, new brands like Glossier marketed sophisticated skin care products as makeup, and Meghan Markle dared to show off freckles on her wedding day.
At some point in between, members of the Makeup Alley forum and pre-YouTube beauty bloggers popularized the term “my lips, but better” (more rarely “your lips but better” or YLBB).
They also referred to “my skin but better” and occasionally “my eyes but better” for foundation and eyeshadow products, but neither took on the same mythical lightness. It became a Holy Grail (or HG) product: a lip product that was visible but barely visible, in a perfectly customized shade, both long lasting and easy to apply.
For some, it represented the fountain of youth in a tube.
“When you look at young children, they have those natural, healthy-looking lips with rosebuds, and as we get older and older, I feel like women are really losing color in our lips,” said Nam Vo, a make-up artist who advocating a wet look calls on her popular Instagram account “dewy dumpling glow”.
All makeup is sold to women as a means of improvement. But an MLBB? “It’s literally the better version of what I already have,” said Jackie Aina, a beauty YouTuber with more than 3.5 million subscribers. “It’s just an effortless look that really requires very little skill or talent.”
It takes effort track down however, the ideal MLBB product. It’s more personal than finding a good mascara or concealer. Depending on the occasion, outfit or time of day, there can even be more than one shade per person. That kept MLBB’s imagination alive for nearly two decades, and allowed beauty companies to take advantage of it endlessly.
Edward Bess registered “my Lips but better” as a trademark in 2013. In 2015, It Cosmetics registered “your lips but better”. (L’Oreal is the previous registered owner of both brands.) Last year, Perricone MD sold a “Your Lips Better” collection in three shades; Yves Saint Laurent is currently selling her own “My Lips Better” set.
“It’s not something that makes people say, ‘Oh, that’s my favorite lipstick,'” said Ms. Goodwin, whose client includes Emma Stone and January Jones and is the founder of the new Makeup Museum in New York City . “But no matter who I work with, it’s the one you always have in your pocket. It’s probably not what you would talk about in an interview, but it’s the workhorse of your makeup bag. “
The rosy glow of an MLBB is one of Ms. Goodwin’s favorite looks – even if her main purpose throughout history (as in the 18th century and the Victorian era) has been to make women look “nubile and vital” in order to get a man to marry you. “
“People died very easily – looking young and healthy was the biggest goal,” she said. “The rosiness and healthy nature of your lips and cheeks correlate with being a woman who reproduces.”
While “my lips but better” falls under the general oxymoronic category of natural makeup, makeup artists emphasize that natural makeup is not nude – a look that tends to be bolder and more rebellious, Ms. Goodwin said, as it draws from everything empty is beauty and vitality.
Nude makeup is by design; MLBB sometimes looks like the residue left over after a night in lipstick, Ms. Aina said.
“Nude can still have full coverage, nude can still be opaque, nude can still be super glam,” she said. “Whereby ‘my skin, but better’ doesn’t look like I’m wearing make-up.”
Both makeup artists recommend transparent, liquid products to achieve MLBB. Ms. Aina suggests a shimmering sheen that lets the natural pigmentation shine through. Your pick, if that’s what you got for it, is Fenty Beauty’s glossy bombshell in Trophy Wife. (Ms. Aina has worked with Fenty in the past but has no ongoing business with the brand.)
For Ms. Goodwin, too, the look needs “hydration and moisture”, although she prefers balms, including Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Red Dahlia and Nars Afterglow Lip Balm.
Unlike the others, Ms. Vo likes products with a matte finish, especially those that channel fruits like watermelon and cherry, like Glossier’s Generation G in Zip. There are lots of MLBB product reviews on YouTube with deep red and berry tones.
There is also the more dramatic step of tattooing; “Lip flushing,” an emerging shading technique (like microblading for eyebrows), promises to add enough color to lips so that they look naturally plump and flushed – at least for a few years.
This confusion is one of the reasons MLBB stayed as a trend nearly 20 years after the term first appeared online, regularly inspiring articles from fashion and beauty publications.
The “better” in “my lips but better” is inherently subjective. It’s a look for people who, as Ms. Aina said, have neither the time nor the talent for advanced makeup applications and may not even know what “better” means to them. You can feel overwhelmed by the size of the market – the thousands of tinted balms, transparent lipsticks, and rosy glosses – and crave the very best.
The search for the perfect MLBB, perhaps representative of the search for eternal youth with all of its rosy reproductive vitality, never ends.
“We have all of this information on hand,” said Ms. Goodwin. “And yet we’re still somehow confused. I am always amazed about it. “