Store-Bought Lip Plumpers: Do They Actually Work?

Pumped-up lips are major right now — but lip injections are a pretty big commitment, not to mention painful.

So you might be tempted to head to Sephora and purchase some creams, glosses, and other potions to plump your lips without needles.

But products like these seem too good to be true. If they actually worked, then why would people still opt for injections? We talked to a few experts to figure out whether store-bought lip plumpers are the real deal.

Ron Robinson, an independent cosmetic chemist and founder of, explained that there are three types of lip plumpers in stores.

The first uses botanical extracts — herbal or plant-based — that work to hydrate and boost collagen in the lips. This in turn makes lips appear smoother and wrinkle-free, which gives the illusion of full, plump lips.

The second comes in the form of scrubs and exfoliants. Scrubs and exfoliants also work to smooth away dead skin, which can make lips appear more plump.

The third variation of lip plumping products uses ingredients such as cinnamon, capsicum, or mint to irritate the lips. When the lips are irritated by these ingredients there is an increase in blood flow to the area which, you guessed it, can make lips appear more full.

This all sounds great. But again — does it work?

Dr. Sheila Nazarian, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and RealSelf contributor, gave us some real talk on whether lip plumpers are worth it or a waste of your hard-earned cash.

She says that scrubs, exfoliants, and other products that irritate your lips to make them appear puffier can work — but the results are temporary. Normally, your lips will go back to normal in 30 to 45 minutes.

“Bodies are meant to react in a certain way and these products take advantage of the body’s reaction,” Dr. Nazarian said. “Lip plumpers give you a temporary dilation in the lips and soon, you stop feeling that.”

Of course, most people will purchase this stuff anyway because of the immediate result — but unless you plan to keep reapplying every half hour, it’s probably not worth it.

And when it comes to the first type of product we mentioned — the kind that plumps your lips with collagen or hyaluronic acid — you’re better off not even trying.

Products that use hyaluronic acid seem like a good idea, since hyaluronic acid is the main ingredient in lip filler injections. But hyaluronic acid particles are too big to even penetrate the skin without being injected. Simply put, rubbing hyaluronic acid on your skin doesn’t do anything but lock in moisture, Dr. Nazarian explained.

Both Ron Robinson and Dr. Nazarian said that these products are totally safe and will have no adverse effects, even if they aren’t the most effective thing.

Although Dr. Nazarian deemed lip plumping products safe, she doesn’t recommend their use. The results are mostly smoke and mirrors. Dr. Nazarian recommends investing in products that will moisturize and protect the lips instead, such as SPF. She also recommends to stop investing $20 to $40 on lip plumping products and to save up for the real deal if you’re dead set on getting bigger lips.

Either way, at least they’re a better option than the Kylie Jenner lip challenge.

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