#TuesdaysWithLarry: Do Lip Plumpers REALLY Work?

Also - how safe are they?

Fuller, “over-pouted” lips have got to be trend of this decade. It’s most probably triggered by my "favourite" TV family, the Kardashian-Jenner Klan, who is also known for overly applied concealer, overly bold eye brows and using more contouring than what NYX can make (which has over 30 products to date!) - it’s all about more, more, more on the face. 

Let’s get it right: Kylie Jenner’s lips aren’t natural. Lips do not “blossom naturally with time” – they are not a flower, but they are boosted with filler injections in 2014. 

There is also the North Asian-Kpop category of pouty lips, which supposedly creates a younger, “innocent” look, and can be seen among some north Asian stars who wear gradient lip colour.

It is funny how those with naturally beautiful, full lips always try to tone them down instead of embracing what genetics gave them, while so many want to draw/inject/plump their average-sized lips.

To achieve these pouts, consumers have been reaching out for lip-plumping products, or in some cases, sucking on a shot glass to force blood into their lips (with many unfortunate incidents ending with the bursting of blood vessels and damage to their lips #ObviFailedAtScience).  

Now, the pressing questions to ask are… “Do lip-plumping products work?” and more importantly, “Are they safe?”

Let us go through the facts. How do we plump lips? INFLAMMATION.

According to Google, inflammation is explained as "a localised physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.”

The only way to cosmetically increase the size of your pout is by irritating the lips and allowing blood to flood into the area, causing a puffed-up effect (just like a mosquito bite).

How do lip-plumping products do that? 

First of all, they introduce irritating ingredients into the balm, gloss or lipstick that can allow this swelling to occur.

Ingredients like menthol, caffeine, capsaicin (found in chili), cinnamon, ginger and wintergreen (that is why some lip plumpers/balms smell like medicated oil), trigger this plumping action to work. 

For some, this will feel like a mild tingling, while to others it might feel like you left chilli oil on your lips. To combat the reaction, brands often add hydrating and conditioning factors to the formulation that leave the lips feeling comfortable and supple.

This means that your lips will look enlarged and fuller after using the lip-plummping product, but due to localised reaction, it can never have that natural, dimensional pout that comes with youth.  

There are also some bad news for those of you who love lip-plumping products.  The constant irritation that is used to create luscious lips can lead to various issues that include drier-looking lips, flakiness, thinning (with long exposure), and ulceration.

All of the above will leave the lips frail, with a high possibility of the lips looking older and more wrinkled.

Unless you insist on being a #YOLO girl/boy, please understand the circumstances you will develop if you continue to use lip plumpers, and do not regret it when your lips goes from pout to shrivelled, preserved cai por (preserved turnip).

There are easier ways to create a fuller lip and to sustain that natural pout you have. Here are some of them:

Start with a lip balm

Start by protecting your lips – using a lip balm with SPF is very important as it helps to prevent sun damage to your lips. Sephora Collection Rouge Balm SPF 20 offers both a wash of colour and sun protection.

If your lips is constantly dry and flakey, use something that is ultra-conditioning, like Lano Lanolin 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm (available from Net-a-porter) and apply a layer before bedtime. You’ll wake up to plumper, smoother lips the next morning as the lanolin balm is great for penetrating your lips to seal in moisture.


Boost your lip shade with lipliners

Lipstick Queen (available at Escentials) offers a super friendly range of colours for consumers. You can go slightly beyond the outer line of your natural lip shape to give yourself that pout. Focus this over-drawing on the centre of your lips where the cupid bow is and the lower curvature of the lips. 

If you over-draw the entire lip, especially on the corners, it will bring a constant downward look to the facial proportion, which makes one look sad. #PoutyLipsNotClownyFrown


Use lip colours wisely 

Focus on using brighter or neutral colours on the outside of the lips, and the lighter shade in the inner lips. This will give an illusionary amplification of the lips.

For those who want a touch of colour but need that pout without the liner, Maybelline Lip Blush Bitten Lips is very useful when you do not follow their instructions. Apply the brighter part of the sheer lipstick along your lip line and the paler part in your inner lips.

Yes, this is my sexy pout

Or, if you are a simple girl that does not want any complicated colour coordination, try the NYX Ombre Lip Duo in Ginger & Nutmeg to create that Nineties pout as a base for your opaque lipstick.

This is a very traditional method, but it works:  On left: Nyx Ombre Lip Duo and lipstick; on right: Nyx Ombre Lip Duo only 


Now pucker up those lips and do not even try to harm them ever again!  

For more from Larry, check out #TuesdaysWithLarry: Let's Talk About Guyliner and #TuesdaysWithLarry: The Strangest Beauty Requests I've Received.


Report a Problem