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What is Lip Plumping?

Niki Acker
Updated May 21, 2024
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Lip plumping cosmetics give the lips a fuller appearance without the need for surgery, and without permanent effects. They are safe to use unless one has an allergy to one of the ingredients, as with most cosmetic products. Lip plumping can make use of a variety of ingredients to give the lips a round, luscious appearance.

Like other cosmetic products for the lips, lip plumping products may come in lipsticks, cremes, or glosses. Some lip plumping cosmetics include color or shine, and others do not. Most work by slightly inflaming the mucosa, or mucous membrane, of the lips, causing them to become swollen. Because of this, lip plumpers often cause a tingling, or mild burning sensation.

The most popular effective ingredient in lip plumping products is some form of Capsicum, the fruit of the red pepper plant. Capsicum contains the chemical capsaicin, which causes a burning sensation. Capsaicin is an irritant to mammals, and is responsible for the spiciness of hot peppers, and is also the active component in pepper spray. Other lip plumping products use cinnamon, menthol, or caffeine to stimulate the lip mucosa, or increase blood flow to the area.

Lip plumpers are very popular and can be found virtually any place cosmetics are sold, in a wide variety of styles and price ranges. In addition to the lip plumping ingredient, many products contain moisturizers to keep lips soft or ingredients that claim to increase collagen or fat production in the lips.

An alternative to buying lip plumping cosmetics is to use cinnamon leaf essential oil. Be very careful when using cinnamon leaf oil the first few times, as essential oil is very concentrated, and it can cause drying and burning beyond the desired amount. Never use undiluted essential oil on the skin, but mix a few drops into lip gloss, an almond oil base, petroleum jelly, or any cosmetic product of your choice to cause plumping. Spot test a small amount on an area less sensitive than the lips, such as the forearm or behind the ear. If you have no adverse affect overnight, you can try using it on your lips.

Another method of plumping the lips is to mix a bit of niacin powder, or liquid from dietary supplements, into cosmetics for the lips. In fact, niacin is an ingredient in many commercial lip plumpers. It dilates the blood vessels, causing the lips to look plumper and rosier.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a BeautyAnswered editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
Discussion Comments
By LisaLou — On Dec 17, 2011

I was curious to see if these products really worked. My lips have never been very full, and I thought this might be an easy way to make them look better.

I read several lip plumping reviews on everything from lip gloss, lipstick to lip balm. Since I use chapstick more than anything else, I decided to stick with what I was familiar with.

I bought some organic lip plumping chapstick that was supposed to create full, lush lips with just one application.

This tube cost me about $10 and I went through the whole tube and really didn't notice any difference in my lips. I did notice some tingling the first few times I put it on.

After that, I must have been used to it because it didn't tingle nearly as much. I really didn't notice any difference in how my lips looked though. If there was any difference, it was slight enough that I haven't bought any more.

By John57 — On Dec 17, 2011

I use essential oils for a lot of different things, and never thought of using cinnamon to make my lips fuller.

I have used cinnamon before, and it is a very hot oil. Just a little bit and you can really feel it. I wonder what is in the cinnamon leaf that would cause it to have this result.

When I used the cinnamon I wasn't trying to get fuller lips, but was using it for headaches. If you are interested in fuller lips, trying some cinnamon might be worth a try.

If you are making some of your own lip plumping lipstick, I would just mix in a drop or two. It is easier to add more drops of oil than to make more lipstick.

By Azuza — On Dec 16, 2011

I'm a little bit ashamed to admit this, but I tried plumping lip gloss awhile ago. I'm sad to report that, aside from the unbearable stinging sensation (seriously, it felt like my lips were on fire), I didn't see much of a change in the size of my lips.

Actually, let me rephrase that. I didn't see any change in the size of my lips. Definitely a waste of money!

I bought a pretty inexpensive brand of lip gloss though. I'm not sure if the more expensive kinds work better, but I don't see myself taking the time to try one out anytime soon!

By indemnifyme — On Dec 16, 2011

@strawCake - You mean to tell me you really don't think nice, full, plump lips look better than sad, thin lips? I can see being against fillers, but I don't see the problem with lip plumping gloss. As the article said, you shouldn't have a bad reaction to it unless you're allergic to one of the ingredients!

So, I don't really see the harm in using this product. If people want their lips to appear a little bit fuller, I don't see what the big deal is. I do think people should follow this articles advice and test these products out on a small area of skin before using them to coat both your lips.

By strawCake — On Dec 15, 2011

I personally don't understand this recent obsession with having plump lips. I feel like every time I go to the grocery store I see a new brand of lip plumping lip gloss or lip stick that contains some weird chemical to plump your lips.

And don't even get me started on the cosmetic procedures for plumper lips. I believe a lot of people are getting fillers injected into their lips these days and I think it looks awful.

I suppose using a lip gloss is better than getting something injected in your lips, but it still seems a little nutty to me.

Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a BeautyAnswered editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range...
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