Lip Plumpers vs. Lip Augmentation Procedures

Tuesday, 17 March 2009 | Tags: , , , , ,

If youíre blessed with less-than-full lips, you may be looking at plumping options for a Jolie-like pucker. If injections make you squeamish, there are less invasive lip plumper products. We find out if they really work and compare them to a "non-invasive" cosmetic treatment.

The Basics

  • Since lips are a visible erogenous zone, belief is that if they look fuller, darker, and more voluptuous, you appear more sensual to the opposite sex.

  • Lip plumpers claim to give you that “bee stung” look by stimulating circulation with ingredients like ginger, cinnamon, niacin and even something called “micro collagen”.

  • Plumpers are categorized loosely in four ways, but most use a combination of these ingredients with a variety of claims:

    • Vasodilators use ingredients like benzyl nicotinate, which causes blood vessels to dilate. This increases blood flow and makes lips appear reddish and potentially swollen. They may work better for more mature women who have fine lines.

    • Irritants use ingredients like cinnamon, ginger, clove, peppermint, wintergreen extract, caffeine or niacin to temporarily irritate the skin cells and cause them to swell. They definitely create a tingling or stinging sensation.

    • Fillers use ingredients like collagen and hyaluronic acid to temporarily reverse the signs of aging for as long as you use the products.

    • Moisturizers rely mainly on moisturizing ingredients to smooth out lines.

  • Most of these products aren’t cheap, so try it in the store to make sure you can withstand the burning, tingling sensation.

Other Considerations

  • Before you try a plumper, try an optical illusion: Dab a bit of white lip gloss on the centre of your lower lip to give the illusion of fuller, poutier lips. Also try a highlighting liner on the centre area of your upper lip.

Be Aware

  • Plumpers won’t protect your skin from the sun. In fact the formula may attract the sun’s harmful rays.

  • Our expert says be skeptical when it comes to the idea of collagen being able to absorb into the skin this way. Collagen molecules are too large to absorb, unless they’re being professionally injected.

  • There is such a thing as too big. (Angelina Jolie’s lips may be borderline for a lot of people’s taste.) Don’t overdo it, especially with the Botox. You want your lips to appear natural, and a big change in their size is a dead giveaway.


Our tester, Roberta, felt that her lips were becoming thinner with age. Before she went to a cosmetic surgeon to try a filler treatment, she wanted to see if any of the lip plumping products would do the trick.

  • Make-up Magic
    • Cargo Reverse lip liner: $14
    • Sephora Nano lip liner: $7
    • Sephora Brilliant Shine lip gloss: $12
  • DuWop Lip Venom (Active Ingredients: Cinnamon & Ginger): $23
  • LipFusion XL (Active Ingredient: Marine Collagen): $54
  • Juvederm injections: $550
    • Lasts 1-1.5 years

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)

Plumping Test

  • The “Make-up Magic” application was performed by a Sephora expert. She applied the reverse lip liner on the top bow of the lip then the natural lip liner just outside of the lip line. She finished it off with the gloss and the result was a nice looking set of lips. Roberta thought her top lip appeared a bit fuller.

  • LipFusion XL has micro collagen that claims to plump up the lips instantly. We didn’t see any difference.

  • DuWop works by irritating the lips with cinnamon and ginger, causing them to swell. Roberta said it felt hot, but not tingly.

  • After none of our make-up options worked the way she wanted, Roberta decided to try Juvederm injections for lip augmentation, which should last a year to a year and a half. The results were immediate, and subtle. 

See the Results


If you’re serious about plumping up your pucker, don’t waste money on lip plumping products. Instead, save up for a lip augmentation procedure. It will cost more, but the results will be real, and will last up to a year and a half.


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