Lip Plumping, what is worth it and what is a lot of lip service?

Moist, luscious, plump lips have been coveted by most women throughout history. Unfortunately, most of us are not genetically blessed with these lips. Luckily, skincare science has given us plenty of methods of improving the look of lips.

Aging Lips

Lips often age more rapidly than the rest of our face does. This is partially due to the fact that the skin on our lips is thinner than skin elsewhere and does not contain sweat glands. Without sweat glands, lips don’t have the natural oils that protect skin from drying out.

The thinness of the skin and lack of oil lead to more rapid loss of moisture, leaving a dry and shriveled. Other factors that lead to thin, unsightly lips are genetics, natural aging, UV exposure, dry air, certain medications, and smoking.

What Women Want

Women who seek lip augmentation fall into one of several categories:

20-40. Many younger women, in their 20s, 30s and 40s have nice volume but want more. Younger women, in general, can handle more volume in their lips without it looking unnatural.

50+. Women who are older than 50 often want a moderate amount of volume that will make their lips look like they used to, but not bigger than they were. Other women don’t want larger lips but want something that will minimize the lines around their lips.

Lip Plumping Topicals

There are multiple options for women wanting larger lips. The simplest method of plumping the lips is to apply lip plumping products. The goals of lip plumper should be to boost hydration, repair cells that are already damaged, protect the cells from future damage and increase volume.


Ingredients such as hyaluronic acid are hydrophilic or “water-loving” to attract water into the lips. Barrier enhancing agents, such as ceramides, stearic acid, palmitic acid, and cholesterol hold moisture in the tissue, not allowing it to escape as easily as it otherwise would. Occlusive agents, such as squalene, olive oil, mineral oil, and silicone cover the skin surface to prevent water loss. All of these ingredients increase hydration, which naturally creates fuller-looking lips.


Ideally, any product that is applied to the lips will also help to repair cells that have been damaged by the environment or by the natural processes of aging. Damaged cells from free radicals, which ultimately cause visible damage such as wrinkles, poor texture and even cancer. Antioxidants are a class of ingredients that neutralize free radicals and help cells to repair themselves.

Examples of antioxidants include vitamin C, ferulic acid and vitamin E. Growth factors are long-chain proteins that our cells need to function properly. Using lip products that contain growth factors helps to repair damage and to restore collagen and elastin that have diminished during the aging process.


The most effective way to prevent future damage is to keep the lips protected from UVA and UVB rays. It is important to use physical block sunscreens and to remember that sunblock is needed every day. UVA rays are the ones most responsible for skin aging, and they are not affected by cloud cover, altitude or time of the year. Chemical block sunscreens are broken down by our bodies about two hours after they are applied and are then no longer effective. Chemical sunblock ingredients include PABA, avobenzone, homosalate, and oxybenzone. Physical block sunscreens reflect the UV rays and stay effective until they are physically removed from the skin. These ingredients include titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and ecamsule. It is important to re-apply after eating or drinking.

Volume enhancers.

Most lip plumping products also contain ingredients that cause a mild amount of inflammation, which increases blood flow, resulting in a slight amount of swelling and, thus, the increase in volume. Peppermint and cayenne pepper are examples. This increase in volume is temporary when they are used alone, but if supplemented by ingredients that are helping the lips to retain moisture, repair themselves and not be further damaged, it will bring about long-term enhancement in volume.

Injectables If a woman wants more enhancement than a topical product can provide, she should consider having neurotoxins or fillers injected.


Neurotoxins, such as Botox or Dysport, can produce a “lip flip.” To achieve this, small amounts are injected right above the upper lip. This causes a subtle upturn of the lip, which usually lasts about three months. This is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to produce just a small amount of extra volume. There is usually no downtime and the results are visible about a week after the treatment.


For women who desire more volume, a longer-lasting solution or struggle with lines above and below the lips, filler is the best choice. Fillers that are appropriate for the lips are those made from hyaluronic acid, such as those in the Juvéderm and Restylane families. When injected, hyaluronic acid works much like a sponge, binding with water and filling up the space. Fillers also stimulate some collagen production, which adds to the effects of hyaluronic acid. Most fillers last about 10 months when injected into the lips, and full results are usually seen in about five to seven days. Thin fillers, such as Juvéderm Volbella and Restylane Silk, are beautiful options for filling in and minimizing fine lines around the lips. They are also both used to augment the vermillion border. When this is done, the lips do not look larger, but do appear to be more defined. Juvéderm Ultra Plus and Restylane are injected into the wet-dry border of the lips to increase volume. Usually, one syringe of either gives a natural, but noticeable improvement in the size of the lips. If a woman wants a marked increase in the size of her lips, two or more syringes can be injected. It is common for the lips to swell just because a needle has been put into them, and it is not unusual for there to be bruising since the lips are vascular. Therefore, women should get lip injections when they will have five to seven days of a few social obligations. After injections, women should not apply makeup for about 24 hours. This allows the puncture holes to close off and decreases the chance of infection since makeup tends to harbor large amounts of bacteria. Any heavy pressure, including heavy kissing, should be avoided for 12 hours, as should drinking from a straw since that involves pursing the lips. Otherwise, normal activities can be resumed immediately. Heat cansoften any filler and, if combined with massage or heavy pressure, could thin them. Therefore, a hot tub, steam room or any sort of heat-based treatment should be avoided. If not, you should refrain from touching the lips until they have gotten back to room temperature. Chemical peels, microdermabrasion and dermaplaning are all fine to do 24 hours after the injections.

Don’t Neglect Lifestyle

All of these treatment options work best in conjunction with a lifestyle that promotes healthy skin in general. Don’t smoke, eat well and drink plenty of water which will enhance the results of topical products, neurotoxins or fillers. When all of these are combined, beautiful, moist, lush and plump lips are the result.

Source: September 2019 © Skin Inc. 5, By: Lisa Jenks, M.D.