3 Tips To Naturally Plump Your Skin & Restore Collagen, Expert Approved
Jello skin. Honey skin. Dewy dumpling skin. What do each of these buzzy beauty looks have in common? Aside from sounding yummy, their main goal is to appear like a fresh baby cherub: youthful and glowy, with glistening, plush skin about to burst with moisture.
Plump skin is often the ticket for any youthful look since skin naturally starts to sag and become drier with age. While skin aging is a natural process that happens to us all at some point, you can take methods to re-plump your complexion if you please (sans injectables, if you don't want to make the appointment). Below, find a few expert-backed, natural ways to infuse your skin with juicy hydration:
"Humectants are basically 'water magnets,'" board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D., founder of SKINFIVE, says about the ingredient category. "They work to help pull moisture from the air into the upper layer of your skin to keep the skin cells hydrated, plump with a firmness and bounce."
If you're looking for an instant (albeit temporary) plumping effect, pat a humectant serum on damp skin before sealing everything in with moisturizer. Your skin will look bouncier almost immediately. "Think of the skin as an actual sponge," adds Shamban. "When it is dry, it is thin, brittle, not pliable, rough in texture, dull, and sallow in color. Run it underwater, and it is instantly plump, dense, and smooth. Even the color is brighter." The humectants are what help usher that water into the "pores" of the sponge and hold it there, making the appearance juicy and full of moisture.
Facial steamers can also give your skin some bounce—assuming you do it correctly. "Facial steaming may provide a hydrating effect with water vapor, which may keep your skin moisturized, plumper, and supple," board-certified dermatologist Ife J. Rodney, M.D., founder of Eternal Dermatology, says regarding facial steaming. As the heat naturally opens up your pores, those water vapor molecules can shimmy their way through the dermis and plump your skin with hydration.
Just make sure you don't overdo it, as steaming can also cause dehydration if you do it too often. "Just like over-exfoliating, over-steaming may trigger a process called transepidermal water loss," says board-certified dermatologist Kim Nichols, M.D., founder of NicholsMD of Greenwich. "This is when water passes from the dermis through the epidermis and evaporates from the skin's surface." It results in a parched, often wrinkled appearance—the exact opposite of what you're trying to achieve. You can find out how often to steam your face here.
If you're hoping for more of a long-term plump (skin longevity trumps quick fixes, after all), you might want to look into collagen supplements. We likely don't need to remind you that collagen is what naturally keeps your skin firm and taut, but your supply begins to dip around your mid-20s1.
One way to boost your natural collagen production (and secure plump, youthful-looking skin) is by consuming hydrolyzed collagen, which has been shown to help maintain dermal thickness and support elasticity and natural moisture levels2. Here, you can browse our favorite high-quality collagen supplements, all backed by a nutrition Ph.D.
Bonus points if you choose a formula with hyaluronic acid as well since ingesting the buzzy humectant can plump your complexion from the inside out; after all, 50% of the body's total amount of hyaluronic acid resides in the skin3.
To plump your skin in the short term, lean on humectant serums and a quick facial steam. Supplying your skin with enough water will help the dermis literally rise to the occasion (just make sure you don't over-steam, as that can certainly backfire). Then for a longer-term approach, tend to your collagen production; here's our full guide to restore collagen in the face, if you need a refresher.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.