It's gonna get sappy up in here.
Okay! So as a veteran beauty editor, I believe that everyone could be better looking. EVERYONE.
Including me. Look at my yellow hair in these pictures, for God’s sake! Don’t worry (you weren't worried), I had it fixed later that night. I keep going to the worst colorists because I’m such a slacker and schedule same-day color appointments with people I’ve never heard of at the salons where I have VIP comp cards, and then two weeks later my hair is fried and yellow. Yellow-yellow. Meth-head yellow.
Anyway. What was I talking about? How everyone can be better-looking.
Uh-huh. So I am shallow and looks-obsessed basically to the point of legitimate mental and emotional impairment. The good news is, you’re probably not as obsessively vain as I am, so this idea I've brought to your attention -- that you always, always could be better looking than you are now -- won’t distress you as much as, day in and day out, it tortures a narcissistic, insecure control freak. Like me.
(On the bright side, these types of personality really do make the best beauty editors. It's why I have such high hopes for young Julie!)
But! If, like me and like, let's face it, Julie, you are tormented not only by vanity but also by a terrible little math problem multiplying and dividing forever in your head that equates rather exactingly your own hotness with the rest of the world's ability to love you, the answer is...LIP INJECTIONS.
Most specifically, Juvaderm injections by Dr. Anne Chapas, my incredible dermatologist here in downtown New York.
Let's talk about Dr. Chapas! Oooh, I just love her; she is nicer than any therapist or psychiatrist I've ever known, including my own mother and father, respectively, and it's not even a cosmetic derm's job to be nice -- just to be good. And now Dr. Chapas has a huge, gorgeous new practice right where downtown begins in New York -- Union Square -- and it is called, duh, Union Square Laser Dermatology.
The space is tremendously chic and sleek and you just want to live there -- sort of like how you feel at an Equinox gym -- and also made me think happily of the days of the Warhol Factories, several of which were on Union Square (in fact, my favorite silver Andy statue was right below us out the glamorously oversized loft-y windows).
Now I know I said that this was Cat and Julie’s most excellent beauty adventure, and, yes, it was exciting for Julie! See, here she is watching me fill out paperwork after I’ve arrived half an hour late.
You can’t tell from a photo, but I am asking her why she hadn’t filled out my paperwork for me "to save time" (as I sipped the coffee she brought for me, and for which she was never reimbursed):
And here is Julie not getting any good cosmetic appointments for herself and instead standing in my treatment room calling in products for me as I vamp for the camera with a stupid Vogue magazine (FACT: my tights are DKNY and I love them, obviously, sleazily):
Julie is the best assistant ever, end of story, and anyway, let's move on to lips!
OK, so Dr. Chapas is, like, my obsession. There is no nicer doctor -- especially in glam dermatologist world -- who will take tons of time with you, who will hug you and remember everything about you, who won’t judge you even though you’re a wreck (and I’m always a wreck).
The first time I met her it was during the very darkest of my many dark Adderall years, and one night when I’d been up for days, I hyperfocused and spent three hours hunched over myself digging what would turn out to be huge, crazy, extremely bloody, ugly, and did I say crazy crazy crazy wounds into my bikini line with a Tweezerman.
I was convinced I had ingrown hairs “under the surface” of things (incidentally, no one should ever mix Adderall and tweezers, ever) (besides, what a waste of the brilliant Tweezerman!).
Needless to say, self-care (being your own “good self-parent," the books call it) was not my strong suit at the time and the wounds, which were on the right side of my pubic area, along the crease of my leg (so it was so painful to walk, especially in magazine girl YSL platforms and all the rest of the prissy garbage I used to wear to work) got infected, and I limped around the Lucky offices for two weeks.
Finally my boss freaked and basically screamed at me and forced me to go to the doctor, since I clearly wasn't going to take initiative and go myself.
Which is where I met Dr. Chapas (whom I had just written a story about for the magazine, but had never been with in person), who was so lovely and so kind as I wept in her office. I couldn't help crying: I was so humiliated to be there with this disturbing self-mutilation story and these horrifying-looking and clearly grossly infected weirdo wounds.
I was supposed to be the glam Conde Nast editor, you know, who had interviewed her over the phone last month or whatever. Not this.
But unlike a lot of other top-tier Manhattan dermatologists I've been to, who inject Botox into socialites and Kelly Ripa-types all day and who probably would have been weirded out by my freakshow, Dr. Chapas couldn’t have been more gentle, or more warm or more empathetic and kind (or more amazing with my treatment; I only have minimal scarring to remind me of all that), and I’ve been going to her ever since. Eventally, she cleared up my acne, too. And she gave me and Julie free Latisse!
But okay, I really will start talking about lips now. God, I write a long story. I'm sorry.
So. Basically, I have a smallish mouth, which is fine. I definitely have a smaller upper lip, though my bottom one is naturally sort of plump. Whatever.
I told Dr. Chapas I wanted to look equal parts Bardot and “sexy baby,” and she totally got it! We were using Juvederm, the dermal filler injectable with the smooth consistency of gel which famously lasts, like, six months, or even a little longer.
We were also going to be using some big needles! Luckily, nothing frightens me less than a syringe. I thought Dr. Chapas was going to shoot me up with novocaine first, but I think I was confusing her with the dentist. Do other doctors use novocaine? I dunno. Irrelevant, because instead she sprayed the inside of my lips and gums with this bad boy:
A topical (and I believe icy-cold, though I could be making that up) numbing spray that completely worked, right away, so that when the big needles full of sexy fillers got stuck in there – repeatedly (maybe six punctures in all), and more on the top lip than the bottom – I barely felt a thing.
Barely. I felt one of them like a needle-pinch, but honestly, that was it. A bikini wax is 60,000 times more painful, and I go to the least painful place in the city, Completely Bare. So the moral is, when you get your lips done, do ask for the topical numbing spray.
I've spared you the injection photos, but you can admire here how I sexily spat and drooled blood and things:
And my mouth was numb for like two hours after, because I sat in a Walgreens waiting for a prescription to be filled eating out of a Whole Foods to-go container and salad kept falling out of my mouth, and people were looking at me! So don't do that.
The "after" pictures from Dr. Chapas' office don't really do the loveliness justice -- I'm sort of swollen all around my mouth and drooly in them, and it was only after that went down a few hours later that I could see the hotness. Check 'em out with a little lipstick enhancement at a party a few days later (the terrible yellow hair is gone, too, though I remain passive-agressively livid with that colorist):
And here again, looking definitely different (though not overtly so -- I had to tell all of my friends I'd gotten them done, though my sister and my eyebrow stylist Maral at Warren-Tricomi at the Plaza noticed straight away):
CONCLUSION: I'm totally getting lip injections for the rest of my life -- they make me look way prettier, end of story. I posit here, then, that they are similarly a good look for every woman on the planet, and that if you'd like to stop thinking about things you don't like about your looks and start liking something about them instead, that you get lip injections, too.
Oh, and also I forgot to say that they are squishy and soft and normal like lips are, not weird. The guy I hook up with said he was into them, which could possibly be a lie but whatever.
And yes, I did get them free (but I get everything for free and always have, so it doesn't influence my reviews ever at this point) and I don't know what doctors in your area will charge you. But knowing what I know now, I would pay $500, say, for this out of pocket if the beauty well dried up for me. For sure. And I'd go to Dr. Chapas, and you should too, if you're in the New York area or visiting.
Obsessed. Questions? Comments? Lip stories? What procedures or beauty treatments have delighted you this way in the past, if any? What should I try next?
Cat is on Twitter and has stopped saying "swag" almost completely. The amazing Olivia took the photos in this story. Dr. Anne Chapas and her to-die-for fantastic practice, Union Square Laser Dermatology, can be reached at (212) 366-5400 and at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Monday!