The Ultimate Guide To Lip Plumpers

The early-2000s favorite lippie may be making a comeback. Here’s what you need to know.
Beauty
Written by Témi Adebowale
07.29.2021
The Ultimate Guide To Lip PlumpersMorgan Alley/Unsplash

For those who wish to enhance or change the size or shape of the lips, the most popular professional treatments include lip fillers, lip implants, and lip lifts. These procedures are generally considered safe and effective, but they come with, for starters, a trip to your dermatologist or plastic surgeon. If you are looking for a quicker fix, there is another option for a plusher, bee-stung pout — and it’s likely a product that you’ve passed right over in the beauty aisle. Enter the lip plumper.

While the lip plumper’s prominence in the beauty space had waned in recent years (compared to its ubiquity in the early-2000s), the category seems ripe for a resurgence with a variety of formulas on the market that are a step up from the stinging ones of yesteryear. Read on for a guide to the pros and cons of lip plumpers.

Lip Plumper 101

When it comes to choosing the right lip plumper, the very first step should be checking the ingredient list. “The most important ingredient in any lip plumper would be hyaluronic acid (HA),” says Cece Davis, APRN, FNP-C, an aesthetic nurse practitioner at SkinSpirit in Austin. “This gives the appearance of a fuller, plumper lip while hydrating the surface at the same time.” Pairing HA with fast-acting actives provides a quick fix. “Popular ingredients such as capsicum (from chili peppers) and bee venom temporarily swell the lips by increasing blood flow to the area, yielding a short term lip plump,” she adds.

If you are looking for a more lasting enhancement, Davis recommends looking for another skincare staple: peptides. “If the goal is to achieve a long-term outcome and build collagen in the tissue, then collagen-building ingredients, like tripeptide 38 or palmitoyl oligopeptide, are beneficial in triggering collagen and elastin growth,” she explains.

Like your favorite skin serum, results from HA and peptide formulas may require a bit of patience. The plus side, however, is that there is less risk of irritation. Part of the reason why lip plumpers fell out of favor was due to their sensitizing side effects. For some, the ingredients that cause the plumping, like bee venom, cause an allergic reaction. Even for buyers without allergies, the actives can lead to sensitization. “Oftentimes, menthols and cinnamon are used in plumpers,” Davis notes. “So, if the consumer is not fond of a tingling or burning sensation to the lips, then I would recommend avoiding those ingredients as well.” When in doubt, patch test the plumper prior to applying it to your lips.

One other note from Davis? “Lip plumpers are transferable by touch, so, if you're out on a date and you go in for that first kiss, you will leave a lasting impression on your partner with a short-term tingle to remember you by,” she teases.

Lip Plumpers vs. Lip Fillers

While lip plumpers and lip fillers may theoretically provide similar outcomes as far plumpness is concerned, the similarities end there. “Lip plumpers are a temporary effect that may last 60 to 90 minutes at most — perfect for some selfie action or a date night,” Davis shares. Those looking for lasting results, however, will want to visit a professional. “If you want a sustainable result lasting six to 12 months, then dermal fillers would be your winner,” she says.

Additionally, the benefits of lip plumpers are quite limited when compared to what lip filler can provide. “Overall, fillers yield a different outcome considering lip filler enhances shape, definition, and volume, whereas lip plumper only slightly increases the surface area through a short term swelling process,” Davis shares. It should also be noted that, with frequent use, it is possible for lip plumper wearers to develop a tolerance to the ingredients that induce the plumping effect. In such cases, the formulas won’t work as well.

With that said, lip plumpers and lip fillers can complement each other. Many patients who get lip filler will later use a lip plumper to further enhance their results. If you wish to do the same, Davis recommends you “wait three to four weeks before experimenting with anything new on your freshly filled lips.” As she explains, “it can take a full month for your lips to settle and the filler to integrate” and you don’t want to “interrupt” the healing process.

The Best Lip Plumpers to Try Now

Now that you know what lip plumpers can do, we’re rounding up some of the best short- and long-term volumizing formulas for a plusher pout.

For Serious Shade Options: Buxom Full-On Plumping Lip Polish

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Buxom offers over 70 (!) different shades of its peptide plumping polish, and you can be rest assured that there will be no dry lips here — this glossy formula features vitamins A and E for lasting moisture and smoothness. $21, ulta.com

For A Mature Mouth: Paula's Choice Hyaluronic Acid + Peptide Lip Booster

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Developed to target the signs of lip aging (think: fine lines, thinning, and dehydration), this treatment balm features hyaluronic acid filling spheres to attract moisture, peptides to firm, and squalene to boost hydration. Apply before bed and as needed throughout the day for a more youthful pout. $29, paulaschoice.com

For A Custom Finish: Too Faced Lip Injection Power Plumping Lip Gloss

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Whether you’re a glittery goddess or prefer a glass-like pout, Too Faced has something for you. The brand offers three different finishes — shimmer, glitter, and high shine — of its peptide-infused plumping product that’ll make your lips appear plump and plush. $24, sephora.com

For Vegans: Milk Makeup Electric Glossy Lip Plumper

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If you’re a fan of spicy food, this gloss is for you. The vegan formula gets its plumping power from Sichuan pepper, which adds a tingling sensation and subtle flavor; Volulip™, a plant extract that boosts HA synthesis; and collagen to moisturize and smooth. $25, sephora.com

For Nourishing Fullness: Nudeskin Hydra-Peptide Lip Butter

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If longer-term volume is what you’re after, this nourishing lippie is for you. Avocado and shea butters soften the pout, vitamins A and E soothe dry, chapped lips, and peptides maximize fullness and contour. Use twice daily to stimulate collagen and hyaluronic acid production. $18, ulta.com

For Layering: L.A. Girl Lip Plumper Tinted

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Made for use on its own or over another lip color, this rosy-hued plumper’s cinnamon-infused formula pumps up circulation to the lips for an instant tingle that leads to a fuller pout. $5, ulta.com

For a Pink Pout: L'Oréal Infallible Pro Plump Lip Gloss With Hyaluronic Acid

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We’re not sure what we love most about this drugstore plumper: the lightweight HA formula that subtly enhances the smile; the sculpting applicator for a flawless contour; or the range of perfectly pink shades. $10, ulta.com

All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.

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TÉMI ADEBOWALEis an assistant editor at AEDIT.

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