The most noticeable plumping to channel your inner Angelina Jolie. Maintains plumpness with continued use. Takes just one minute to penetrate lips. Comes in a variety of colors including clear, which can be used on its own as a plain gloss.
As the name suggests, it creates a more extreme sensation on the lips that some found too intense. Caused some irritation if it got onto the skin.
Unique peptide and hyaluronic acid booster gives lips a volumnized look. Pleasant minty tingle when applying. Moisturizes lips with vitamins A and E. Sponge applicator makes it easy to apply. Nice gloss finish.
Can be sticky. Has a strong scent, and not as lasting as other brands.
Light-reflecting, high-shine gloss. Shiny but not sticky finish that also hydrates. Offers long-lasting wear. Great color, with a mildly plumping action. Good as a layer on top of other lip colors. 100% fragrance free.
Some were not fond of the applicator, while others disliked the slippery consistency.
Instant plumping effect. Collagen-activated to plump and define lips. Smooths and moisturizes lips. Can be used as a base or topcoat. Helps set lipstick, or can be used as a base coat, too. Minty vanilla scent.
Tended to dry out the lips. A pricier product.
Visible plumping within 3-5 minutes. Hydrates well and helps diminish lip wrinkles. Comes in various shades as well as clear. Smells (and even tastes) good. Great choice for sensitive skin.
Not much product for the price. Not everyone saw results.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Filler injections will plump up your lips, but they can be pretty painful, not to mention expensive. Fortunately, you can get a similar, if not quite as dramatic, effect at home with a good lip plumper.
Not all lip plumpers are created equal, though. Sorting through all the options to find a product that actually delivers bee-stung lips can be tricky. You have to figure out what type, formula, active ingredients, and other features to keep an eye out for, so you don’t wind up with a glorified lip gloss rather than a real-deal lip plumper.
Ready to purchase a great lip plumper? Check out the product list above to see our five favorites. Or for everything you need to know about finding an effective lip plumper for your pout, keep reading our handy shopping guide.
A lip plumper is a lip product designed to plump your lips so they appear bigger. Lip plumpers typically contain ingredients that cause temporary swelling, boost collagen production over time, or have a gradual smoothing effect, all of which help give the appearance of fuller lips.
Lip plumpers usually have a thin texture, so they absorb easily into the lips. They can be worn on their own or with another lip product, such as a lipstick or lip gloss. However, a lip plumper works best when applied to clean, bare lips, so it should be the first step in your lip makeup routine.
There are two types of lip plumpers: those that instantly plump the lips and those that have a gradual plumping effect.
Instant lip plumpers
If you want your lips to look fuller immediately, an instant lip plumper is your best bet. These products work by increasing blood flow to the lips so they swell and appear fuller or plumper. The increased blood flow is usually the result of mild irritation, which may make your lips redder as well.
Because of the irritation, instant lip plumpers may cause burning, discomfort, or pain. The tingling or stinging sensation quickly wears off for most people, though. You typically will only feel irritation for a minute or so after application.
Keep in mind that the effects of an instant lip plumper are temporary. Once the product wears off, your lips will no longer look fuller.
Treatment lip plumpers
If you find the stinging sensation of instant lip plumpers too painful or want long-term plumping action, a treatment lip plumper is a better option. These products contain ingredients meant to boost collagen and elastin production in the lips so they look fuller over time.
Many treatment lip plumpers are designed to help your lips retain moisture, which can result in a plumper look as well. In some cases, the formula may include exfoliating ingredients to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, as smooth lips also appear fuller.
A treatment lip plumper doesn’t deliver the immediate bee-stung look of an instant formula, but the results are long-lasting if you use the product consistently.
For special occasions, use a clear instant lip plumper as a primer before putting on your lip liner, lipstick, or gloss – so as to get a bee-stung look.
Use a lip scrub to exfoliate your lips before applying a lip plumper. Your lips will be smoother, and the active ingredients can penetrate more effectively.
Lip plumpers come in a variety of formulas, which are all easy to apply.
Gloss/serum: A gloss or serum lip plumper has a somewhat thick consistency and usually adds a nice shine to the lips. It typically features a wand-style applicator that allows you to apply the plumper like a traditional lip gloss. This formula is typically used for instant lip plumpers. Gloss lip plumpers are easy to apply on the go if you want to plump your lips when you’re out and about.
Balm/stick: A balm or stick lip plumper resembles a lip balm or lipstick. It comes in a twist-up tube that you use to apply the product directly to your lips. This formula is usually thinner than gloss lip plumpers, so it absorbs easily into the lips. Both instant and treatment lip plumpers are available in balm or stick form.
Gel: Gel lip plumpers usually have the thickest consistency and contain moisturizing ingredients. Gel is a common formula for treatment lip plumpers. They usually come in either a pot or a squeeze tube. Gel lip plumpers that come in a pot are applied with your fingers, which can get messy. You can apply a gel lip plumper in a squeeze tube directly from the container.
For a lip plumper to be effective, it’s important to choose a product that contains the right active ingredients. Active ingredients in instant lip plumpers increase blood flow to the lips, while active ingredients in treatment lip plumpers boost collagen production and moisturize the lips. Here are some active ingredients to look for in a good lip plumper:
Cinnamon: This is a common active ingredient in instant lip plumpers because cinnamon contains cassia oil, which irritates the mucous membranes when applied to the lips and increases blood flow for a plumper look. It may cause a tingling or burning sensation.
Capsicum: This is a common ingredient in instant lip plumpers. It is derived from hot peppers, so it also irritates the lips to stimulate blood flow for fuller-looking lips. It usually causes burning or tingling.
Ginger: Another common ingredient in instant lip plumpers, ginger irritates the sensitive skin on your lips, which boosts blood flow and makes them appear fuller. You may experience burning or tingling with ginger.
Mint: Mint is a common ingredient in instant lip plumpers. Peppermint and wintergreen are the most common, and they increase blood flow to the lips to give them a pouty appearance. Mint usually causes a tingling sensation upon application.
Niacin: Niacin works by dilating the blood vessels, which increases blood flow to the lips to make them look fuller. It’s commonly found in instant lip plumpers.
Caffeine: Found in instant lip plumpers, caffeine constricts the blood vessels in your lips, which can smooth fine lines and wrinkles that can make the lips appear smaller.
Hyaluronic acid: This is a common ingredient in treatment lip plumpers. It helps attract and bind moisture to the lips and boost collagen production for smoother, fuller lips.
Peptides: Another common ingredient in treatment lip plumpers, peptides stimulate collagen production and repair damaged skin cells so lips appear smooth and plump.
Microspheres: Microspheres are a common ingredient in both instant and treatment lip plumpers. They draw moisture to the lips for a fuller look.
Nearly all treatment lip plumpers come in a clear formula that doesn’t show up on the lips beyond adding a shine. However, instant lip plumpers are available in both clear and tinted formulas. Clear plumpers are ideal for pairing with a lipstick or gloss, while tinted plumpers work well on their own or with another colored lip product. Some instant lip plumpers also contain shimmer, which reflects light and makes your lips look fuller.
Because instant lip plumpers increase blood flow, they can darken the lips, which may mean you can skip adding a lip color on top.
Lip plumper prices vary based on the type and the quality of the ingredients. You’ll usually pay more for a treatment product that offers long-term results than an instant plumper. Prices generally range from $5 to $60.
Instant lip plumpers with lower-quality ingredients typically cost $5 to $18.
Instant lip plumpers with higher-quality ingredients typically cost $18 to $35. Treatment lip plumpers with lower-quality ingredients typically cost $15 to $35.
Treatment lip plumpers made with higher-quality ingredients typically cost $35 to $60.
Q. Is it safe to use a lip plumper?
A. Treatment lip plumpers are meant for daily use and typically contain hydrating ingredients, so they’re perfectly safe to use. Because instant lip plumpers are designed to irritate the skin on the lips to increase blood flow, they may be uncomfortable to wear if you have sensitive skin. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, using an instant lip plumper daily is not recommended, as you may experience dryness and flaking with frequent application. Limit your use of instant lip plumpers to a few times a week.
Q. How long do instant lip plumpers usually work?
A. An instant lip plumper typically plumps the lips for two to three hours. If you have more sensitive skin, though, the effect may last a little longer because the irritation and increased blood flow is prolonged.
Q. How long does it take to see results from a treatment lip plumper?
A. As with most skin care products, patience is required with a treatment lip plumper. It can take four to six weeks before you see increased fullness and smoothness in your lips. If you want to see results as quickly as possible, use the treatment plumper daily. Some treatment lip plumpers can even be used both day and night in place of your usual lip balm.
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