TikTok is the home of funny videos and dance tutorials, but it’s also a place where new beauty trends are born every day.
If you’re spending a decent amount of time on this hilarious app like I am, you’re probably familiar with the newest trends and viral videos going around. You may have seen the $10 lip plumper from Amazon that went viral after some big accounts, such as makeup artist Glamzilla, tested it out and showed a very obvious lip enhancement by the end of her video.
What followed was a waterfall of videos where creators showed their own (also very obvious) results after using the Derol lip enhancer.
And while lip enhancers are not a new player in the beauty game, this is definitely the first time I've ever seen them explode in popularity on this scale. Which makes me wonder, why did lip plumpers, although being around for quite some time, never quite get their moment of fame until somebody made a viral TikTok about them? Are lip plumpers worth the hype?
Why Do Lip Plumpers Sting?
Lip plumpers offer a quick and non-invasive effect of plumper, fuller, bigger, and color-enhanced lips. However, this effect doesn't come without a price.
Lip plumpers usually come in the form of a transparent or colorful gloss, balm, stick, or gel, and they work by irritating the lips and making them swell up to achieve the desired effect.
Lip plumpers usually contain similar base ingredients as a standard lip product does, but they have a few additions such as cinnamon, ginger, mint, caffeine, etc. These ingredients have a natural constricting effect, which means they can constrict the blood vessels and deliver a cooling sensation when used on the skin.
A common active ingredient in lip plumping products is capsaicin, a chemical naturally found in chili peppers.
However, most of them are sensitizing ingredients, which means they can irritate and sensitize the skin with long-term and frequent use, and this can actually lead to puffiness, which is precisely what happens when you apply them to the lips.
Besides that, an ingredient that's commonly included in lip plumpers is niacin, which is added in a liquid or powder form and has a very similar effect, such as the natural alternatives mentioned above, but it's generally considered to be much stronger. Niacin can actually make your lips sting and tingle, and it's also famous for delivering the icy sensation felt after applying a lip plumping product.
Lastly, another common active ingredient in lip plumping products is capsaicin, the chemical that’s naturally found in chili peppers that gives them the fiery-hot taste. So basically, if you cut open a chili pepper and rub the insides on your lips, you’re likely to experience the same burning and stinging sensation, and you will most likely see your lips swell up, too.
Can You Get a Severe Reaction from a Lip Plumper?
Lip burning sensation can be the result of sensory nerve or skin damage in the lips and surrounding tissues. Chemicals in your skincare and lip products, certain foods, and even sun exposure may cause a burning sensation and swelling of the lips. This tells us that, yes, lip plumpers may very well trigger a severe reaction in some people.
And although they’re generally safe to use, I would still advise you to do a patch test of the product before applying it directly on the lips, especially if you’re allergic to some of the ingredients mentioned above.
Do a patch test of the product before applying it directly on the lips.
You can do a patch test by rubbing a small amount of product on a smaller area of the body such as the inner elbow or behind the ear. If a severe reaction occurs, it will usually happen relatively quickly, within 5-10 minutes of applying the product.
However, bear in mind that the skin will most probably show redness and you’re likely to experience tingling or even burning, as this is what lip plumping products are supposed to do. But if the reaction becomes unbearable and the area starts to swell abnormally, you may want to avoid applying the product on the lips or anywhere else altogether.
Even if you can tolerate the unpleasant sensation, try to use the product in moderation. It's important not to overuse a lip plumping product because the constant irritation and burning sensation could lead to dry and chapped lips as well as lip trauma or ulcers.
How Long Does a Lip Plumping Gloss Last?
No matter which brand you choose, most women agree that the results are subtle and rarely last for longer than an hour without reapplication.
This study shows that a single application of a lip plumping product caused significant swelling during the first 15 minutes, which stayed unchanged until the 30 minute mark, and started decreasing in intensity a little after 30 minutes.
Are There Painless Lip Plumpers?
The intensity of the pain depends on a couple of factors, including your pain threshold, the amount of product applied, and the frequency of reapplication.
Some people who have a higher pain threshold could feel a mild tingling sensation and notice very little swelling and redness, while others with a lower pain threshold are probably more likely to experience a higher intensity burning, pins-and-needles (prickling) sensation, and notice moderate to severe warmth, swelling, and redness. Besides that, applying a lot of product frequently could potentially lead to higher chances of irritation, sensitivity, burning, and dryness.
Applying a lot of product frequently could lead to higher chances of irritation and dryness.
However, there’s a hack to make the application of a lip plumping product a painless experience and that’s to apply a numbing cream on the lips at least 10-15 minutes before applying the product.
Numbing creams can be purchased over-the-counter at the pharmacy, and they’re entirely safe to use on the skin. But bear in mind that applying a numbing cream won't protect the lips from potential dryness and irritation; it will just numb the area so that you don't feel the unpleasant burning sensation.
In my opinion, lip plumpers seem like the type of product many people grow tired of very quickly, which is why it's not surprising that they never stuck around, no matter how many famous brands came up with this kind of product. Also, the chances are that everyone will most likely forget about them once the current TikTok fame subsides.
Lip plumpers are messy and sticky, they burn and cause irritations, and most importantly, they don't offer long-term results. So, no matter how cheap they are, they’re just not worth it. They may be all the jazz for someone who wants short-term, temporary results, but that too will probably become a hassle, and people will eventually not be bothered with applying it anymore after a while.
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