Similar to getting hair extensions, Botox, or eyebrow microblading — getting lip filler — injectable hyaluronic acid — is a completely optional beauty enhancement. The kind offered by professionals can get pricey, especially considering these services may require multiple sessions to achieve the level of fullness you desire. If you want to give the look of fuller lips a very temporary test run before deciding whether or not you want to take the injectable route, lip plumpers in the form of glosses and balms are the next best thing.
According to board-certified dermatologist Michele Green, who is based in New York City, topical lip plumpers are enriched with active ingredients — including cinnamon, ginger, peppermint, and the same ingredient found in injectables, hyaluronic acid (more on this later). Simply put, these ingredients create a plumping effect by temporarily swelling the lips. “The skin reaction [caused by these ingredients] results in localized swelling, which gives the lips a temporary plumping effect,” Green explains. Fortunately, these ingredients are considered safe and effective, according to Erum Ilyas, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group.
However, when it comes to finding the best lip plumpers, the process can quickly become overwhelming with complicated ingredient lists and seemingly countless options. Board-certified dermatologist Peterson Pierre of the Pierre Skin Care Institute in Thousand Oaks, California, recommends looking for lip plumpers enriched with hyaluronic acid. According to Pierre, the moisture-attracting ingredient offers a plumping effect since it can hold 1,000 times its weight in water. He also recommends looking for lip plumpers infused with moisturizing and conditioning ingredients such as shea butter and ceramides to leave your lips feeling smooth and moist.
Board-certified New York City-based dermatologist Hadley King also recommends lip plumpers enriched with humectants (such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin), emollients (which include fatty acids and ceramides), and occlusives (like beeswax) for maximum hydration.
You’ll also notice that some lip plumpers are formulated with peptides. “Peptides are composed of amino acids. Some peptides stimulate collagen and elastin production, which work by increasing moisture as well, producing localized swelling in the lips,” Green explains. Cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson agrees that all of the aforementioned ingredients offer a temporary plumping effect.
Intrigued? Keep scrolling for a few of our favorite lip plumpers across all price points — each formulated to provide hydration, shine, and, of course, fullness.