As today is known as Kissing Friday, I have been preparing my lips for a proper puckering up. Kissing Friday, or the more dubiously named, Nippy-Hug Day, was the day when boys could demand kisses from girls, and if the girls said no, the boys were entitled to pinch their bums. It gets worse. In the 1970s, a vicar in Sileby, Leicestershire tried to revive the custom, but luckily the good people of Sileby thought otherwise. Ahh, Folklore and #MeToo…
But back to my lips. As I drink loads of water and only wear lippy on special occasions (or when I’m trying to distract my mother from seeing how tired I look), they are in pretty good shape. But that’s no excuse for not doing some folklore experimentation, especially when there’s some kissing to be done.
So the first lip treatment I tried was an exfoliating collagen lip mask to help stop the aging process. Apparently old lips are not appropriate on old people. The mask contained strawberry and kiwi, which are apparently collagen stimulating fruits. According to The Complete New Herbal, strawberries are also rather good with teeth, removing plaque and whitening them. But given the shedload of sugar that also goes into this concoction, I thought it best not to repurpose the slop afterwards. And then the last ingredient was a vitamin E capsule, which I didn’t have, so I subbed in castor oil, which is said to be very good for thickening eyebrows.
First I brushed my teeth, as I’d read on another blog that food particles could taint the effectiveness of a lip mask. Then I mashed up the fruit and mixed in the other ingredients. It was very juicy. Probably should have sieved the fruit before adding the rest. Needless to say, trying to apply it with the back of a spoon was a Sisyphean task and nearly all of it dribbled down my chin before I plastered a strip of clingfilm across my lips like a see-through gag. Until this beauty bondage, I hadn’t realised just how much I like to move my mouth. At one point, I was reduced to interpretive dance instead of singing along to Every Breath You Take. Immobile, my mouth felt grumpy. Anyhow, after the requisite 10 minutes, I pealed away the clingfilm, rubbed in the remaining juice, which wasn’t a lot because of gravity, ate the kiwi seeds still on my chin, then washed off the rest. I can’t say my lips look any different but against all expectation, they did feel smoother, really soft. Although the rest of my face seems to be very sticky.
So now that I had beautifully smooth lips, I thought I should plump them up. Go big or go home and all that. So I prepared a second mask called a Spicy Plumper. This one had an olive oil base with ground cloves, cinnamon and cayenne pepper mixed in. Cloves, again good for oral hygiene and an antiseptic, cinnamon good for circulation and for flatulence, and cayenne pepper, good for stimulation and great for Bloody Marys. It smelled amazing. This one I just rubbed on, it was grainy and stayed where it was. The tingling started almost immediately but it wasn’t until about three minutes in that my lips felt relatively on fire. Which was not unpleasant is a masochistic kind of way. After 10 minutes I washed it off with cold water. I suppose my lips were a bit pinker, and a tad fuller? But only by a gnat’s whisker. The tingling kept going for over 20 minutes afterwards, but while my lips were still smooth, they were now also feeling a little dry at the edges.
So I went for a third, but this one was easy. Honey and clingfilm. Unlike the drippy first attempt, because I used set honey, it wasn’t going anywhere so I could at least move my mouth under the cling film. And as with all of them, the taste leaked into my mouth so I sucked the honey through my teeth (which, I argued to myself, were by now protected by the strawberry and the clove so the liquid sugar couldn’t possibly be detrimental). After 15 minutes I didn’t bother washing it off, I just licked. And again, marvellously soft, but still a bit tight at the edges.
Each had their merits, but in fairness to the final two, I probably shouldn’t have tried them all in the same afternoon. But at least, with the addition of some lemon, good for digestion and preventing kidney stones, I can turn the second one into salad dressing…
One quick last bit of folklore. Today is also St David’s Eve/St Oswald of Worcester’s Day, and it’s said that if there’s a clear sky, the rest of the year will be good. I’m saying nothing.
Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Mabey, R. (consultant ed.) (1988) The Complete New Herbal, London, Elm Tree Books
Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books