Lip plumpers are a mostly safe way of getting larger lips without having to endure a needle, so you definitely should have these products on your radar, and consider buying yourself a tube. In this article, I explain exactly how different lip plumpers work and with what ingredients. I compare lip plumpers to lip injections, and list the potential side effects of using one. I’ll also explain how lip plumper should be used correctly.
In this article:
- What Is Lip Plumper and How Does It Work?
- What Are Common Lip Plumper Side Effects?
- Lip Plumpers vs. Lip Injections
- How to Use a Lip Plumper
What Is Lip Plumper and How Does It Work?
A lip plumper is any product that, once applied to the lips, makes them plump up, so they look bigger and more luscious. Lip plumpers can come in the form of a lip gloss or lipstick (even with color!), or as a lip balm or serum.
The formula of lip plumpers will often be very nourishing and moisturizing to the lips, while the plumping effect itself comes from some sort of an irritating ingredient. The irritating ingredient will cause blood to rush to the lips, which will make them swell and appear larger.
The most commonly used ingredients in lip plumpers are menthol, cinnamon extract, or hot pepper extract – which brands will sexily call capsicum, but we know what’s really up. Other ingredients you may see include niacin, also known as nicotinic acid, which sometimes shows up as benzyl nicotinate.
Occasionally, you will see lip plumpers that are not meant to have an instant effect, but are instead supposed to be a long-term solution to the loss of lip plumpness that occurs as we age and our bodies stop re-producing collagen as rapidly. These lip plumpers are most frequently made with hyaluronic acid, a humectant ingredient that pulls moisture into the skin and improves its overall functioning, and with various kinds of peptides that are said to slow down the aging process by promoting collagen production.
There are also many versions of lip plumpers that combine both mild irritants for an instant effect and these ingredients that should have a long-term effect.
What Are Common Lip Plumper Side Effects?
The mild irritants found in lip plumpers are usually not so powerful as to cause adverse reactions. Most people expect a hint of a tingle or itchiness after applying a lip plumper, as that is to be expected.
They can also expect the lips to turn red and slightly swollen – well, that’s the desired effect, of course. You don’t need to worry if you experience any of those aforementioned side effects of lip plumpers.
Some side effects, however, are completely undesirable and if they are experienced, the lip plumper should be wiped off immediately. These side effects include a burning sensation, which is a sign that your lips are too sensitive to tolerate the lip plumper.
You should also wipe it off if your lips swell to a ridiculously large size, or if the swelling or redness effects spread to the skin that is outside of your lip line.
While most lip plumpers include moisturizing ingredients, in some cases it is possible for lip plumpers to cause the lips to become dry, chapped, cracked, or peeling. If that happens to you, stop using the lip plumper, or reduce how often you use it.
Lip Plumpers vs. Lip Injections
Most people choose lip plumpers because they want to avoid invasive procedures like Restylane or Juvederm lip injections. If you’re debating between going under the needle or opting for the over-the-counter solution, I hope I can help clarify things for you.
First, let’s talk results. With injections you can expect instant and radical results, as your lips will be injected with a derivative of hyaluronic acid. The effect is extremely plump lips, since they will have been injected with more material. The results will last between 6 months and a year.
On the other hand, the results of a lip plumper are slightly less pronounced. Some lip plumpers will work by bringing a rush of blood to your lips, which will make them a touch fuller and larger, and will last from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Other lip plumpers will work slowly over time to increase collagen production and to hydrate the lips, which will make them fuller in a very subtle way. With those kinds of lip plumpers the effect will be natural, as your lips will only grow to the size that they naturally can when they are at their healthiest.
If you want something subtle and temporary, opt for lip plumpers, while if you want an extreme and long-lasting effect, then try injections.
Next there’s the question of discomfort. With hydrating and anti-aging lip plumpers there is absolutely no discomfort – the lips feel moisturized. Lip plumpers that are infused with an irritant like capsicum or niacin will cause a slight tingling sensation to the lips that will fade after a few minutes.
With injections, however, the discomfort is being stung with a needle has to be taken into account. Many doctors will use a numbing cream beforehand if you’re especially nervous about the pain. Afterwards, your lips might still feel a little too swollen for a couple of days.
Lastly, there’s a question of price. Lip plumpers from the store will cost you between $15 and $80 for a tube that should last you for at least a few months. A single lip injection that lasts around 6 months will cost between $400 and $1000 per treatment, so in other words, if you’re on a budget, perhaps lip plumpers are a better option.
How to Use a Lip Plumper
Using a lip plumper is easy as pie!
- Begin by making sure that your lips are perfectly clean. If you’ve been wearing makeup, you can wipe it with a makeup remover.
- In order for the lip plumper to better penetrate into your lips, exfoliate them first. You can use a store-bought lip scrub, or you can make your own with the help of some sugar and honey or olive oil. Rub the scrub on your lips for a few seconds to make sure all the dead skin is gone, and then wipe it off completely. If any oil stays on your lips, it can prevent the lip plumper from getting in there and doing its job.
- You’re finally ready to apply your lip plumper! Most lip plumpers come with an applicator of some sort, so simply dispense the product and wipe it on your lips. Give it a few minutes to sink in.
- If you’re using a two-step lip plumping system, you can now apply your second lip plumper the same way as the first one.
- Now that your lips are all plumped up and juicy, you can finish off with a sweep of lipstick or lip gloss if you like!
Photos via @gabysglamm, Instagram