Serge Lutens Lipstick & Crest Whitestrips

Serge Lutens Lipstick & Crest Whitestrips

Oh, the mouth. We do so much with our mouths. Even when we’re not consuming food or smooching or speaking, we signal each other with these facial "micro-expressions" that are basically involuntary, most of which are centered around the mouth. So, if you can wrap your mind around that, try to imagine how often people are looking at your mouth. Don’t you want them to have positive feelings about it? I want people to have positive feelings about your mouth. The good news is it's not necessary for either of us to spend a lot of time and energy worrying about it. Plan of attack: invest in a good lipstick (or, why not a really great one), and take good care of those teeth. Let’s dive in.

When it comes to lip color, there are a few important elements to keep in mind:

1) texture

2) staying power

3) color

Not in that order—and there’s probably more—but those are the criteria that popped up into my head with the most immediacy. The concept of “strength” is important, too. A lip color (and I’m talking color, not a nude) needs to stay on, and stay put. There is very little worse than navigating a party or dinner or whatever it is, convinced that the carefully sculpted shape of your mouth has become wonkily uneven, or that a smear of your chosen hue is currently crossing your front teeth like you’ve been snacking on Ruby Woo. Serge Lutens has got you covered: the admittedly very pricey lipsticks—$75 a tube; $55 for refills is yes, a lot for a lipstick (maybe the most?) but hear me out—come in 10 shades, all featuring delicate prism-shaped tips. And friends, call me Goldilocks, but Lutens' reds are just right: #1, called Mise à Mort, is a bold, classic, 'uptown-girl' Grace Kelly crimson; #7 Votre Sienne is a perfect, grown-up, daytime coral-meets-red-meets-beige that makes me feel like I have a business meeting to get to and you’re going to listen to me; and my favorite, #9 Couvre Fou, looks like an almost gothy black-brown in the tube but glides on the exact shade of dark plum/wine that I've been looking for all fall. It's got just enough gloss to go on in a flash, but with a creamy, mostly matte, and sophisticated result. How do I justify a $75 lipstick? It’s the only one even close to this shade that I want to wear, and I’ll wear it to the bitter end (the nub); no more mucking around buying handfuls of different dark reds and plums to experiment with or layer. So get thee to Barneys (and .com), if you're willing and able (and if it's not your thing, well, judge not lest ye be judged?).

Now, inside your mouth are your teeth. Your teeth are one of those things (or 32 of those things, if you're counting each one individually, including wisdom) that are simultaneously a wonder of design and a pain in the ass. They’re bestowed upon you beautiful, useful, and pearly-white—before life (coffee, wine, tea, sweets, sauces, nicotine, etc) wreaks its unique brand of havoc. And there is no lipstick perfect enough to make stained teeth look good. Bluish-tinted reds might help them appear a tad whiter, but most lipsticks, even $75 ones, will just make any yellowing or discoloration stand out. That’s a fact. And if your options are keeping your mouth shut or taking a big ol' bite outta life? I say, LET'S WHITEN THOSE SUCKERS.

I’ve done dentist-level whitening treatments, with molded trays and those little syringes of potion you squirt in and sleep with. They're not sexy, and my dog ate one of my molded trays (really, my dog ate it), but they work. They’re also expensive, and you can only use them every so often because they gradually strip your enamel and can cause extreme sensitivity, even to a cold breeze. More dash than cash? $40 Crest Whitestrips Professional Effects (with Advanced Seal technology, which matters, because they're drier than the previous Crest strips and virtually immovable in your mouth, whereas before you couldn't speak without them sliding around and you couldn't really talk, period). They may technically take longer than the dentist version—20 days for full results—but the wait means you can whiten at your own pace, and take a break if you start feeling the burn. You’ll see a difference starting three days after applying the tape-like strips to your grill (top and bottom), once a day, for 30 minutes. The best part? You can buy them at your local drugstore. Which, by the way, you might have to walk to, because you spent all your taxi money on lipstick.

—Alessandra Codinha

Illustration by Karleigh Sherman

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Couteau

    What's the limit on teeth whitening?

    ITG does realize that the American look is white to the point of suspicion. What are you hiding, one thinks unconsciously at the sight of a perfect denture. A history of drug use? An accident? At 35 your smile looks 65 if too whitened, like you sleep with your teeth in a cup over your bedside table.

    Americans smile. A lot. Many see copious and gratuitous smiling as insincere, the fake white makes it more so.

    What is ITG's official position?

    • ITGAlessandra

      Though reluctant to represent any official position on the teeth of a nation, you're right, whitening can be overdone. It can also be under-or-never-done: my recommendation is to offer a cheaper solution than the professional option, for those who are so inclined. Clean, white teeth signify health, which is why they are so largely coveted. I don't know if that is a distinctly American viewpoint (we are also big proponents of unique smiles: see Lauren Hutton, Lara Stone, etc.), or if we have historically put more of an emphasis on dental care, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. Ditto smiling.

      But believe me, I've come up against some eerily white grins before, and they were nearly always completely terrifying. But! That, to my experience, has not ever been a result of Crest whitestrips, due largely to how you can monitor and manage your own whitening process, versus at the dentist.

      • Caroline Mt

        I agree to both of you : not all American are about white teeth (that's not correct) but we see it more often in America.
        HOWEVER as a French girl, i have to say that i prefer the American approach : countless time, i see french people with absolutely horrific mouths, and i would like to PAY them to go to a dentist. Our preference for natural approach isn't right all the time. I prefer to see people with fake white teeth than rotten ones even if it's more "natural".
        Do not make me say what I did not say : not all french people have rotten mouths.

        • Couteau

          Health seems to be the key word. Aiming for healthy rather than white is a good rule. It's the same thing, but not quite.

    • Coline

      I've heard quite a lot about Americans and our “fake smiles” when I lived in France. It seems odd to me that it is hard to accept that it is a culturally part of how we greet people. Smiles are lovely and inviting and just because they are often just a reflex it doesn't make them fake. How a smile irritates one is beyond me since I've been told I smile too much when I’m in Europe. But yes, it is why we care so much about our teeth. My parents spent a small fortune on my dental work and I whiten regularly. There is such a thing as too white and I see it when the teeth look totally opaque which is unnatural.

  • R Jefferson

    Yeah...i skipped the teeth whitening stuff.

  • Manon729

    Well written post. I recommend using a sensitive teeth formula of toothpaste while whitening. It really eliminates the pain.

  • beeswaxnoneofyour

    I don't whiten - too freaked out about enamel stripping. I weakened the enamel on a tooth (makes everything painful, from brushing to having liquids or cold foods touch the tooth) from brushing too hard with a regular toothbrush, and had to get it re-enameled (this didn't hurt, it's like a little sheet they heat seal to the tooth with a little dryer, then I switched to an electric brush, much gentler) but I thought after that, why would I do this on a large scale to myself for vanity? Besides, my dentist once said to me, 'you don't need to whiten your teeth, you just need a tan' which I found sort of hilarious (I never tan).

    • Guest

      That is the best advice ever. Fake tan instead of whitening if your teeth are sensitive! I wish my dentist would something as hilariously brilliant.

  • charlotte bentley

    Professional Effects literally made me wince in pain for several hours after use.
    But I have to agree with the splurge "worth it" factor of Serge Lutens lipsticks...they are wonderful.

  • Jordette Singleton

    Great tips, a great smile is worth its weight in gold. Shop Dresses Online at CopperEtiquette

  • Kitchen Afternoon

    A dentist friend hereself uses crest white strips - then your teeth look normal, neither derelict or vice presidential dentures.
    I see you have the new Vogue Paris there- what a great cover!
    As for tanning - a place out here has full body LED/red facial lights in a tanning salon - amazing, and at 30 days for $30, it will be a great month! But I find prettier skin makes your teeth yellow.

  • larissa

    Haven't tried the strips, my dentist would kill me, but that lipstick looks very dreamy!

  • Ona_in_Barcelona

    So, I don't know that Serge Lutens lipsticks are the *best* bang for your buck, but they are pretty bloody brilliant. My fave is Pourpre Maure, a beautiful purple with lots of depth.

  • Denis R

    Great post. Perfect work.

  • Bunny_V

    Great post! your tempting me Alessandra, I thought I already owned every liptsick I ever needed for the rest of my life...hope they dont sell these in Holland :)

  • Fairytalesandcoffee

    I've done Crest Express White Strips and left them on for longer than directed and boy do you get a ZING in your teeth. OUCH! They do whiten the teeth a bit - getting rid of superficial stains. Having done laser whitening of teeth almost a decade ago, that hurt WAY more. I couldn't even finish the second round (at that time came in two rounds). Pain unbearable in my nerve endings. I've been afraid to go back to the laser since then. Crest Strips are as far as I will go and my teeth WERE not sensitive to begin with until I did the laser. But be careful with the Crest Strips if you do have sensitive teeth.

  • Veronica

    Can you comment on the smell of the Serge Lutens lipstick? Since the lips are right below the nose, I find that some brands smell off putting. Certainly the color and texture seem divine. Thanks!

    • ITGAlessandra

      Hi Veronica! It's interesting that you mention this, because I was surprised to note that the lipsticks really have no smell (or one so faint that I can't pick up on it)-- especially interesting considering the perfume maestro they come from.

  • Jess

    Has anyone tried gosmile? I heard it was a lot gentler, but it's pricey...

  • Coline

    $75 is way too much for a lipstick. It is just makeup and in any verbose way you can justifying spending exorbitant amounts of money on anything. And this is coming from someone who loves makeup.
    Crest White Strips rock!

  • dipitblack

    Great tips!
    I go buy the whitening strips,
    really affraid of bleaching my teeth..
    And here in Holland it's actually very expensive too.


  • Laura

    I also recommend Chanel's Rouge Double Intensite Ultra Wear lip colour. It last on your lips and it doesn't rub off on anything. It is amazing and super soft on lips! Makes you feel like you're not wearing anything...

    Great illustrations BTW.

  • Alice

    I really like the way you write Alessandra. I want to try all those Serge Lutens lipsticks now and even may try whitening my teeth too.

  • Bee

    Surprised Alessandra didn't mention that Crest Whitestripes isn't the best solution for sensitive teeth.

  • Jennydeiser

    Teeth whitening can actually damage your teeth if you try to do it at home, I learned the hard way. Now I use whitening toothpaste and brush regularly, which definitely seems to help. I also gave up coffee and soda.