Wait — Is Topical Lip Filler A Real Thing? Here's What The Pros Say
By 2023, we can all say one thing for sure: Beauty is not pain. In fact, more and more people have hopped on the opposite bandwagon, opting for gentle, nourishing skin care products over harsh granules and irritants (remember those infamous apricot and walnut shell scrubs?).
The world of plastic surgery is slowly but surely moving toward a similar goal, with less-invasive procedures, like lip fillers, gaining popularity every day. But still, not everyone wants to resort to needles for a plumper pout.
Luckily, modern cosmetic advances mean you just might be able to skip the injections for a painless, naturally plumper look. But is "topical lip filler" legit? Here's what the pros say.
What is topical lip filler?
The term "topical lip filler" has become more prevalent in recent months, thanks to new at-home plumping treatments like the Ourself Lip Filler. Topical products like this one obviously aren't invasive, but they're not considered plumping glosses either—they're part of a different product category entirely.
Traditional "sting and burn" plumping glosses generally include ingredients such as capsaicin (an ingredient found in peppers), menthol, cinnamon, and even bee venom, dual board-certified facial plastic surgeon and founder of AIREM Modern Beauty Rituals Eunice Park, M.D., explains.
What's more, the pain that comes with a significant plump isn't always worth it. "These ingredients act as an inflammatory agent that causes a mild swelling of the lips, leading to a temporary plumping effect," Park notes.
Rather, think of these new products as a treatment step—they're not an ultra-sticky gloss designed to top off your makeup routine. Instead, they work to make the lips plumper beforehand, and many even have lasting effects.
How they work.
"Larger molecules tend to stay closer to the surface of the skin and account for plumping and smoothing near the skin's surface," board-certified dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, M.D., FAAD, tells mbg. "Smaller molecules of hyaluronic acid penetrate deeper into the skin and are responsible for hydration of the deeper level of the epidermis," she adds.
And as Park notes, "Newer lip plumping formulations are based on mixed molecular weight hyaluronic acid, which leads to a hydrated effect and avoids the sting and burn ingredients." The best part? These treatments also nourish your lips, which means that juicy, plump look will only get better with regular use. Not to mention, the lips will take on a more even shape and appear less wrinkly, thanks to the increased hydration.
Is it permanent?
Now, the significant caveat: These lip treatments aren't a one-and-done type of product (nor is anything at-home-friendly, really). That being said, the glorious plumping effect will stick around if you regularly use these treatments.
"Most topical lip plumpers give hydration, which can claim plumper lips after using. The more hydrated the lips are, the better, and collagen will help to keep the skin on lips looking less deflated looking," medical esthetician and founder of JTAV Clinical Skin Care Joie Tavernise explains.
So, if you're working toward generally hydrated, healthy lips, you may start to see those plumping effects stick around. "Healthy skin is more resilient to damage from external factors, and therefore able to repair itself more readily and protect itself over time," Marcus adds. "In this way, hyaluronic acid can have lasting effects on the appearance of the skin."
Think of it like a supercharged skin care product: Sure, the results aren't permanent after just one use, but you can achieve lasting results if you stay dedicated to the cause. And if you've tried countless plumping products without noticeable results, let this be your final shot—you can see the shocking before and after photos on the Ourself product page here for even more proof. What's more, some products contain naturally derived lip color enhancers, meaning your lips will appear fuller and more pigmented, sans makeup.
It's worth noting that these products can be pretty pricey—not as much as the cost of most injections, but it's still important to keep that in mind.
All of this to say: If you've been considering lip fillers for some time but you're not sure if you want to go through with it, you may want to start with an at-home plumping product. Especially when paired with a juicy gloss, you might be surprised at just how powerful these supercharged formulas can be. Who knows? Maybe your thirsty lips just needed some proper hydration.
Beauty is not meant to be painful, and when it comes to lip plumpers, new and improved at-home treatments offer even better results than the infamous burning formulas of the past. For even more ways to keep your pout plump, check out these nine at-home-friendly tips.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including skin care, women’s health, mental health, sustainability, social media trends, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends and innovations, women’s health research, brain health news, and plenty more.