My 3 Favorite Lip Plumpers, At Every Price Point

Plus a cautionary note before you use these miracle products!
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Mary Ellen
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Plus a cautionary note before you use these miracle products!

Humans, upon becoming sexually aroused, experience increased blood flow to the skin’s surface. This means that when you feel sexy, you experience skin flushing and slightly fuller lips. In the most basic terms, when you see someone you want to have sex with, your lips will swell a bit. So, on seeing a pair of full, plumped-up lips, we are inclined to think of sex, instinctively.

Big, pneumatic lips are sexy, and while it’s a look I adore, I can’t very well get it from injections (too scary and invasive for me) or from walking around constantly aroused (implications r.e. social norms).

Thankfully, lip plumpers have really come into their own in recent years as a cosmetic staple for anyone looking to give their lips a little something extra.

This is what my lips look like pre-plumpers.

This is what my lips look like pre-plumpers.

They contain ingredients like mint, cinnamon, capsicum (the stuff found in hot peppers) and ginger, and work by slightly irritating the lips and surrounding skin, thus increasing blood flow and making your lips swell. They’ll usually give your mouth a tingly/prickly feeling that starts soon after application. (For this reason, it’s important to never apply these kinds of products to lips that are peeling, bleeding or sore already.)

Lip plumpers contain ingredients that are actually meant to irritate your skin, making your lips swell and redden. 

Lip plumpers contain ingredients that are actually meant to irritate your skin, making your lips swell and redden. 

BUT FIRST!

Lips that are a little dry or rough can tend to look worse with maximizing products on them, so to prep them, try a homemade lip scrub.

Put a little coconut oil or raw honey in a clean cup, add some granulated sugar and mix. Gently work into your lips with a very clean, soft toothbrush (sterilise it in boiling water first) and wipe off with a damp cotton pad. Now your lips are soft and ready to inflate.

DIOR LIP MAXIZER

This is one I will always keep in my makeup bag. Pretty packaging, easy application, and the most delicious creamy-mint scent make this a winner. There’s a little tingle, but nothing unbearable.

It slicks on a sort of barely-peach, nude-pink with a very mild hint of shimmer, and isn’t sticky or grainy. It plumps nicely, and the slightly peachy shade adds to the illusion of enormous lips.

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I also love that this gives your lips a glossy shine rather than that incredibly wet, vinyl look that some of these products lean towards. Dior lip glosses tend to need a fair bit of reapplication, but there’s plenty in the tube, and I absolutely wear them out. I also don’t mind reapplying because it tastes real good.

SALLY HANSEN LIP INFLATION

I picked this up at the supermarket as an impulse purchase along with my daily dose of Coke and Skittles. This stuff certainly does make your lips swell up--it has the same plumping ingredients (ginger and cinnamon) as Lip Venom. With a noticeable tingle, the plumping action can be seen about ten minutes after application.

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It makes me feel like I’m doing that stupid 2011 party-girl “duck lips” thing all the time, without even trying! It’s got a particularly weird smell that wafts up from whence you open the tube--I can liken it to stale cinnamon buns and teen perfume.

One thing I’m not keen on is the glassy, overly shiny look it gives lips: I’m not a huge fan of the wet, slippery-looking dolly mouth for everyday wear. But for such a knockdown price, it’s a welcome substitute for the times when I run out of Dior and am too broke/too far from the city to repurchase. That's OK, though, because it appears to be discontinued as only a few are left for purchase on the internet.

DUWOP LIP VENOM

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This is probably the original lip plumper--the first of its kind. It was formulated to achieve a post-coital-like swell on the lips of actresses being made-up by the DuWop team.

We must give DuWop massive credit for their innovation and originality in this regard but, Lord have mercy, this stuff tingles pretty hard! There’s quite a strong cinnamon scent off it, too--great if you like it, but as it happens, cinnamon makes me heave. But I get over it in the interests of having bigger lips.

This is ten minutes after removing the Lip Venom, my lips still retain the plumping effect.

This is ten minutes after removing the Lip Venom, my lips still retain the plumping effect.

If you can get past the rather sharp fizzy feeling, you’ll be rewarded with a great plumping effect. The bottle is a mere 0.12 fluid ounces and looks like it won’t last the weekend, but only a little is needed to cover both lips and give a nice, high-shine gloss.

Plump lips are all about sex. We see big, full lips and our instincts make us think of having sex with someone, this is crucial because boning each other is the primary objective of the human race. Or something like that. I’m not sure.

Oh! And a word of caution: don't wear these in bright sunlight or your lips will explode and it will be painful. Always apply an SPF lip balm beneath a lip plumper for added protection, although it's probably best to steer clear of plumpers if you plan on catching some rays.

Never wear lip plumpers in the sun! 

Never wear lip plumpers in the sun! 

Have you checked out any pump-em-up lip treatments lately?