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Updated October 2022
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Buying guide for Best drugstore lip plumpers

As we age, our lips lose collagen, appearing less plump and full than before. Lips aren’t immune to the fine lines we develop elsewhere on our faces either. This aging process starts in our twenties, and the difference can be noticeable by the time we hit our middle years.

Lip injections can certainly puff up your pout, but they’re invasive and expensive. That doesn’t mean you’re doomed to thin lips, though. Drugstore lip plumping products are an economical way to juice up your lips. These products cause short-term swelling of the lips, helping to temporarily restore youthful fullness. Most add volume with ingredients that mildly stimulate or irritate your lips.

However, with the number of drugstore lip plumpers increasing, it can be hard to know which one to choose. Our buying guide covers everything you should consider when shopping for drugstore lip plumpers.

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Starting in their twenties, both women and men start losing 1% to 2% of the collagen in their lips per year.

Key considerations


While you’ll find the occasional volumizing serum or lipstick, most drugstore lip plumpers are formulated as lip glosses. Lip gloss acts as the perfect medium for lip plumping ingredients because glosses apply and spread more easily than traditional lipsticks. Some lip plumping glosses deliver a subtle sheen, while others are packed with high-voltage shine. Lip glosses are often transparent, but you can also find plumping glosses at the drugstore in an array of pretty hues and sparkly glitters.

Lip plumping serums are designed for ongoing use. Serums are designed to penetrate the lips rather than simply sit on the surface. This allows them to combat collagen loss over the long run, compared to the temporary volume of plumping glosses and lipsticks. Serums are among the pricier drugstore lip plumpers, and they must be applied regularly to make a difference.

Lip plumpers can occasionally be found in lipstick form. This is a less popular delivery method, since lipstick formulas are usually thicker and harder to apply. These products tend to be more about delivering the desired lipstick shade than maximizing volume.

Active ingredients

There are two types of active ingredients found in most drugstore lip plumpers: those that lock in moisture and those that irritate the lips.

Many lip plumping glosses use natural products to lightly irritate the lips, increasing blood flow. This causes light swelling of the lips, which can last for several hours, adding volume and tightness. These formulas include mildly stinging ingredients like menthol, cinnamon, wintergreen, caffeine, and capsaicin, which comes from chili peppers. Some more expensive formulas even use bee venom for a stronger sting. These products are designed to create a physical response, so check the ingredient list if you have a history of skin irritations or allergic reactions.

Some plumpers use ingredients like hyaluronic acid to hydrate the lips so they appear naturally larger. Hyaluronic acid is a molecule that’s extracted from sugar, so allergic reactions are highly unlikely. This hard-working molecule can absorb a large amount of water, giving your lips a fuller appearance without creating a stinging reaction.

Other lip plumpers use peptides, natural molecules used to make proteins, to increase collagen levels in the lips. Peptides are often a key ingredient in long-term plumping products like serums, but they aren’t very effective as instant plumpers.



A clear plumping gloss might be the most versatile, but a tinted gloss can really amp up a lipstick or lip liner when layered on top. Drugstore lip plumpers come in a range of shades, from neutral nudes to fun pops of color. For a nighttime look that dazzles, opt for a drugstore lip plumper that sparkles with multi-colored glitter.

Hydrating formula

When used repeatedly, plumping formulas can take their toll on your lips. Ingredients that repeatedly irritate or swell your pout can also dry and crack your lips. Some plumping formulas include ingredients like shea butter, avocado oil, ceramides, and other moisturizers to help keep your lips healthy.


While drugstore lip plumpers are budget-friendly, waste isn’t good for your wallet or the environment. Squeeze bottles make it easy to overdo the application of a lip plumper, and roll-ons often require multiple swipes. A doe-foot applicator makes it easy to apply a lip plumper without wasting product or making a mess.

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Collagen is the most plentiful protein in the human body. It’s a primary component of connective tissue and helps keep the skin plump and firm.


High-end lip plumpersUnderwhelmed by drugstore formulas? Take it to the next level with a higher-end lip plumper.

Lip plumper devicesLip plumping glosses can be goopy and stick to your hair. For a mess-free pout, try a lip plumper device.

Lip sleeping masksLip plumpers can leave your lips dry, irritated, and even chapped. Restore hydration with a lip sleeping mask.

Habitual straw use can contribute to thinning lips and fine lines.


Drugstore lip plumper prices

The good news is that drugstore lip plumpers won’t break the bank. You do get what you pay for, though, so here’s what to expect.


It’s possible to find drugstore lip plumpers for less than $5 per tube. Lip glosses in this price range often provide subtle results that are short-lived. Cheaper formulas may use lower-quality ingredients, which can mean increased irritation or lackluster results.


Most drugstore lip plumpers cost between $5 and $10. You’re more likely to find plumpers from recognizable, trusted cosmetic brands in this price range. Their effects last several hours, and they use better ingredients. They come in a variety of colors, too. Products in this range are more likely to include effective moisturizers to prevent dry lips.


The most expensive drugstore lip plumpers can cost up to $20. If you’re paying this much for a drugstore product, the results should be significant and last most of the day. These drugstore lip plumpers often use mostly natural ingredients and effectively moisturize your lips while plumping.

If you use lip plumpers regularly, make sure you moisturize your lips afterward with a balm or lip mask.



  • Try out your lip plumper before your big date or special occasion to make sure it creates the effect you’re after.
  • If you experience a lot of pain, irritation, swelling, or redness after using a lip plumping product, immediately discontinue use. Avoid products with similar ingredients in the future as you may be allergic.
  • Overlining your lips with a lip pencil can help accentuate the fullness of your lips.
  • Use a lip balm with SPF on a daily basis to prevent sun damage and help ward off signs of aging.
  • If you have a history of reacting to skin products, lip plumpers may not be a good choice for you.
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Stop using a lip plumper if you have any adverse reaction like excessive pain, redness, or swelling. This could be a sign of an allergic reaction.


Q. Can I apply a lip plumper over lipstick?

A. Reviews are mixed. Some experts say you’ll get better results applying a lip plumper directly to the lips, whereas applying it over lipstick can lead to uneven results. Others recommend always using a thin layer of balm or lipstick underneath a lip plumper to help protect the lips. If you have a history of skin reactions or sensitive skin, including a barrier layer is wise. You can always use a lip liner in a shade that matches your natural lips underneath a lip plumper.

Q. How much do lip plumpers sting?

A. Today’s lip plumpers feel nothing like older products, which most agreed were highly uncomfortable. Still, many modern products use irritating ingredients that produce at least a minor tingle. If this sensation bothers you, look for formulas that include cooling ingredients to help reduce any side effects. Discontinue use if a lip plumper makes your lips cross the line from full to painfully swollen – you could be having an allergic reaction.

Q. How often can I use a lip plumping gloss?

A. It’s best to save these formulas for special occasions. Your skin can build up a tolerance to the irritating ingredients used to swell your lips if you use lip plumpers too often. This can lead to less dramatic results over time. Frequent use can also lead to dry, damaged lips. If lip plumping is more of a daily concern, consider investing in a serum that will rebuild collagen over time.

Q. How long do the results from a lip plumper last?

A. Results vary by formula, but most quality lip plumpers work for two to eight hours. For best results, apply a lip plumping gloss about 10 minutes before your big entrance to give the formula time to work without wasting precious volume in transit. To maintain lip health, you shouldn’t apply most lip plumpers more than twice a day.

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