Lip Service

I don’t mean to brag, but I recently found myself at the Ulta checkout with a Kylie Lip Kit in my hand. The fact that the younger of you just thought, “Aren’t you too old for that?” and the more senior of you just thought, “What the heck is that?” should tell you exactly how old I am (which is in agreement with both questions). Also, for my father … Ulta is a store where women go in for shampoo and leave with debt.

A Kwik Kardashian history lesson (is it history if it only happened like five minutes ago?). Kylie is the youngest child of that frontier-busting Look-At-Me! family, the Kardashians. Yes, the family that skyrocketed to fame (?) via a misplaced (?) sex tape that was leaked (?) to the interwebs by an ex-boyfriend (?) with a grudge back in the days before sex tapes basically became an acceptable line on many resumes.

Kylie is actually Kylie Jenner, the daughter of Kris Kardashian and Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. So, not a Kardashian by the same bloodline as Kourtney, Kim, and Khloe but certainly a huge part of the familial financial pie. I actually suspect she is the favorite child of Kris as she quietly stacks her money while staying fairly quiet. Just a few years ago, Kylie’s Lip Kits turned Kylie into a Kajillionaire just as she was peeking around the corner to her twentieth birthday. 

Yes, she was a Kajillionaire who wasn’t old enough to toast her kajillions with a glass of champagne.

To my knowledge, though we’ve not discussed it officially, Kylie and I only have one thing in common: We are both a bit self-conscious about our lips and their unwillingness to fully show themselves. 

We’ve handled this in different ways. 

Me? Oh, I’ve handled it by doing essentially nothing about it for the entirety of my life. Yes, I did treat myself to a few fillers at fifty and continue that practice once every 18 months or so, depending on when I think, “Wait, when was I supposed to do that again?”

Kylie? Oh, yes, she also gets fillers though likely more than once a year and likely more than just a few pokes and likely at a spa much more costly than mine probably because the aesthetician lives in her basement with all treatments locked and loaded for whatever whims pop up throughout the day. 

Kylie’s lips are not only visible, but they are also super-duper visible and always at the ready for a quick duck-face should the social media need arise. 

Frankly, I’m too lazy for all of that. And, frankly, that may have been why it was so surreal to find myself standing at the Ulta checkout recently handing over that soon-to-be-mine Kylie Lip Kit to the cashier. 

Had I done it?

Did I become hip? 


This purchase was actually the last stop on a weeks-long journey to Panicville that was related to a coming live television appearance. The “live” was what got me on that train, as if a recorded show would include lip edits before broadcasting.

Perhaps my coping method was to focus on my lips rather than on the completion of full, intelligent sentences in response to questions that I actually supplied. Perhaps the broken record of “What will I wear will my hair look okay how do I do makeup how long is this appearance what if I trip and break my neck while walking to set what if I have to poop in the middle?” was a distraction provided by my own subconscious as that appearance loomed. 

But at least I had it all under control.

In case you still hold any confusion about my age, I also went to the TikTok for tips on how to apply “on-camera” makeup. This was not my first foray into 47-second classes. Much earlier this year I did the same makeup deep dive for podcasts that included video. 

It was actually then that I discovered the variety of shades now used to contour and shape-shift and morph any unique facial characteristics into a much more vanilla look. 

Since then, I have made the jaunt to various makeup aisles and stared at various inventories while praying for someone to slide into my orbit with an offer of “Oh, hey, you are probably lost, yeah? Over thirty? Yes, this can be confusing. Here, let me just put everything you need in your basket, then maybe @ me on the socials for my pre-recorded lessons. ”

That never happened. 

Instead, I put a million miles on the car going back and forth from purchase to return to purchase to return in a trial and error that landed heavily on the error side unless I was leaning towards a late-in-life career as the new mascot at McDonald’s.

Eventually, I did get to a point where my appearance at the dinner table did not kick off minutes of awkward silence. Sort of an “Oh, okay … this isn’t so bad … “ application to all of my face parts  … except those pesky lips. 

Did you know that you can’t just try on all the lipstick in the store? Sorry, Sephora. I’m new. 

Which, I suppose, is how I landed at Ulta. Is that where Sephora sends people who don’t meet its hipness requirements? Well, thank goodness for that! 

It was at Ulta that the universe finally threw me a bone. Perhaps, that bone was actually for my husband who was a bit tired of hearing my daily screams of frustration and had begun matching them with his own daily screams of “Go somewhere and ave someone apply exactly what you need and tell them money is irrelevant.” I do hate when he is right. Not the money part. The “Get help” part.

As I stood in Ulta offering a way-too-long explanation to the first person I saw (they did have on a name tag), this angel of mercy flew in, raised her hand to stop my chatter, and said, “Okay, I got you.” She then flitted a few aisles over while sending an “I’m obsessed with Kylie’s Lip Kits” over her shoulder while waving at me to follow. As I arrived at the display, she handed me a box with a rather confident, “Get this shade, it’s perfect. You’ll love it.” 

What in the name of lipnation?!?

I started to delve back into my tales of woe but she stopped me again. “You can bring it back if it doesn’t work, but it will work. I promise.” 

Mkaaaaaaaaaay, friend. 

Also, it worked.

How had she done it? How had she solved a months-long problem in less than five minutes? Who was this paint-by-lipkit protege? Where had she been hiding all this time? Why hadn’t I just come here first and have somebody apply exactly what I needed? Wait, did this mean my husband was right? God dammit! What was happening? 

Yes, yes, and all the yesses. 

Not only am I now the proud owner of a Kylie Lip Kit, but I am also a frequent user. Unlike most lip things I buy, it has not been relegated to the back of a drawer, never to be seen again. I now understand how those kajillions were built as I now support the system (well, not so much a system as a gloss, a liner, and a stick … none of which I can typically remember to use at the same time, but still …). 

Am I finally hip? 

Ulta-mately, yes, I suppose.

Although when I watched the playback … well, I was too far away from the camera for my lips to really matter.

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