Updated: Feb 4
Lip plumpers tend to create a ‘plump’ effect by swelling the lips by irritating them with certain ingredients. Read more...
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Are lip plumper glosses effective on all skin/lip types?
Lip plumper glosses are effective for all skin and lip types based on how they work. They create a ‘plump’ effect by swelling the lips by irritating them with certain ingredients. The thin skin of the lips is very susceptible to irritation and will swell temporarily in response. Essentially they are creating what is referred to as irritant contact dermatitis to the lips. It is true, however, that some people may have potentially slightly thicker skin and require either more product or more aggressive ingredients to achieve the same results.
Do the ingredients in different lip plumpers tend to be the same?
Most lip plumpers use ingredients that are known irritants for the skin to trigger slight swelling. The most common ingredients to find in lip-plumping glosses include:
Cayenne pepper (from chili peppers)
The result of the irritation to the lips achieved by these ingredients is slight swelling. This swelling gives the perception of plumper lips.
Can I make a DIY lip plumper?
Of course, you can DIY this! Making your own lip plumper may be easier than you think. After all, most of us have had an experience with a food item that resulted in our lips seeming a little more prominent!
The simplest recipes involve just melting your favorite balm, mixing in ¼ tsp of cinnamon oil or cayenne pepper, letting it cool in the container then applying it to your lips. You can do this with any lip balm, gloss, or lipstick if you need a little color in your product.
DIY Lip Plumper Recipe
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt your lip balm. Mix in the cinnamon oil. Fill the storage jar with your new product. Add a little lipstick if you need a hint of color!
Can hyaluronic acid actually plump lips when applied topically?
If hyaluronic acid is used topically in lip plumpers, its effect is mainly by getting into the very superficial layer of the epidermis to retain some moisture to make the skin appear plumper. The effect seen is mainly because the skin appears more hydrated. In this sense, it’s effective at making the lips appear supple. Because the lips appear more hydrated they will seem plumper. Hyaluronic acid topically is not nearly as effective as traditional lip plumpers that work by irritating the skin to create a “plump” appearance. Hyaluronic acid is too large a molecule to actually get through the skin. It generally gets into the superficial layers of the epidermis and then attracts moisture to it. It can pull the moisture from within the skin but can also work well if a moisturizing lip product is applied on top.
That being said, hyaluronic acid injected into the lips certainly works to plump the lips effectively and lasts for months.
How does topical hyaluronic acid work for lips?
Hyaluronic acid is too large a molecule to actually get through the skin. It generally gets into the superficial layers of the epidermis and then attracts moisture to it. It can pull the moisture from within the skin but can also work well if a moisturizing lip product is applied on top.
Are there any risks with using lips plumpers?
Most topical lip plumpers work by irritating the surface of the lips to swell them. Usually, peppermint oil and wintergreen are used. it is true that traditional lip plumpers can be very irritating to the skin. I often have patients that complain of persistent chapped lips after repetitive use. Although the effects of HA-containing plumpers will not be as pronounced, they are probably better for your lips as they promote hydration.
Do results from lip plumpers last, or does it require constant reapplication?
Typically the effects of lip plumpers last for a few hours. This isn’t bad to get through an evening event but may not last through a work day!
What are the best practices for using lip plumpers?
My only caution about using lip plumpers is to try to avoid daily use. The more frequently you use them, the more likely you will start to deal with chapped lips. After the swelling subsides from irritation the thin skin on the lips that was inflamed tends to shed or peel - almost like Elmer's school glue stuck to your skin. The lips can start to feel raw and crack or bleed easily. To use these once in a while for a night out is not going to be problematic so enjoy the effects! After a stretch of teenagers I saw several years ago with bruised lower lips and necks from the “Kylie shot glass lip plumping strategy” and even one kid that came in who could not get the shot glass off their face after trying, lip plumpers from a little irritation is a welcome option!
Do you have any favorite topical hyaluronic acid for the lips?