If you binge-watched Outer Banks season 2 over the summer (*raises hand*), there are two things that likely caught your attention: JJ’s quick wit and Sarah Cameron’s perfectly plump pout. In fact, TikTokers were so in awe of actor Madelyn Cline’s lips that there was a #SarahCameronLips challenge, as they called it, going around in September where lash glue was placed right above the lips to get the sought-after look. Innovative? That’s one word for it. However, there’s an easier trick for getting a fuller lips that doesn’t require glue: Plumping lip glosses. Luckily, with some new advancements, these formulas aren’t quite as irritating as they were back in the day (you can probably feel an uncomfortable tingly sensation just thinking about them).
According to Dr. Lara Devgan, MD, MPH, FACS, a renowned plastic surgeon and founder of Dr. Lara Devgan Scientific Beauty, part of the reason for the popular look is because “the lips are the centerpiece of facial femininity and add a tremendous amount of subtle beauty to the face.” Additionally, much of the credit for popular culture’s surging interest in fuller lips is due to Black and brown women. But, if you’re not quite ready to try lips fillers just yet, these formulas are a great stepping stone. “Lip plumpers offer an easy and extremely effective way to achieve a visible improvement in lip volume and caliber without taking the leap of going to see a plastic surgeon for lip augmentation,” the plastic surgeon adds.
Eager to learn more about plumping lip glosses? Below, the experts share everything you need to know.
How Do Lip Plumpers Work?
Dr. Devgan says there are many different types of lip plumping products on the market, some of which are medical-grade. “The best types of medical-grade lip plumpers harness the power of mixed molecular weight hyaluronic acid, niacin, and ceramides to achieve hydration, moisturizing, and vasodilation of the lips,” the plastic surgeon explains. “These improve blood flow to the lips and thereby deepen the pink color, increase the size and volume, and improve the glossiness and smoothness of the surface of the lips.”
Alternatively, Dr. Devgan notes that the nonmedical lip plumpers available aren’t as good for you because they increase lip size by irritating the lips with the use of ingredients like cinnamon and capsaicin (which is found in chili peppers). Adding to that, Dr. Smita Ramanadham, a plastic surgeon in New Jersey, says these glosses “can include bee venom which essentially ‘tricks’ and replicates the swelling effect you might see from a sting.” (The expert warns that these products are not recommended if someone has an allergy to bees.)
Dr. Ramanadham says that typically you’ll notice tingling within two to five minutes after applying a plumping gloss (some formulas more so than others), and the effect can last anywhere from one to three hours. As a note: Some people will want to steer clear of plumping glosses. “There are a few dermatologic and medical conditions, like angioedema [a swelling disorder], [and those with the condition] should not use these glosses so it's always important to seek advice from your dermatologist if there is a question before use,” Dr. Stefani Kappel, MD, FACMS, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Newport Beach, CA tells TZR.
New Advancements In Lip Plumpers
Dr. Ramanadham explains that since plumping glosses have become popular again in recent years they have seen new and more efficacious advancements, with many formulas using safer ingredients. For starters, Dr. Ramanadham says hyaluronic acid and niacinamide are now commonly added. “Hyaluronic acid is found in our skin cells and results in plump, hydrated skin,” she explains. “This causes the lip to attract and maintain water.” Then there’s niacinamide, which the plastic surgeon says is a breakthrough ingredient that causes vasodilation. “The blood vessels within the lip enlarge causing then to become engorged and plump. This can also cause a natural tint to occur within the lips.”
In addition to glosses, Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, a dermatologist in New York, is noticing other up-and-coming products cropping up on the market. “There are now also LED light options available to treat your lips by boosting collagen production and increasing circulation, which can result in a more [voluminous] and nourished lip appearance,” she explains. “There are also lip masks available now designed to help plump and hydrate.” More options is good news for anyone who is still searching for their perfect lip plumping product.
If you’re now itching to get your hands on a plumping lip gloss, shop the five formulas recommended by the experts, below.
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.