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A guide to the best lip plumping treatments

Meet the best next-generation lip plumping products, that treat as they transform


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Pop culture’s obsession with fuller lips has played out in a decade defining beauty movement. From injectable filler to topical plumpers and make-up enhancing techniques, big lips are big business for the industry.

“There has always been an association between fuller lips and perceived femininity and beauty,” Ida Banek – founder and CEO of aesthetics clinic Ouronyx – tells Bazaar. “More recently, social media influencers are seen as drivers for idealised beauty standards” – something which she notes can contribute to anatomical distortion. “This has impacted Gen Z’s perception of their own face, with the pressure to meet sometimes unrealistic expectations” (look to many of the #PlumpLips videos on TikTok, which have racked up 485 million views, to see what she means). Meanwhile, her older clientele can be needle-cautious, despite an injectable intervention potentially enhancing the harmony of an ageing face. “As we age, the supporting collagen, reposition of fat pads, muscles and bone loss collectively contribute to a more caved, flatter appearance of our lips,” she says.

But whether or not it’s deemed desirable and/or necessary, lip filler isn’t for everyone. And, regardless of where you stand on the motivations for seeking fuller lips, there are also issues to consider when reaching for more temporary enhancers. Topical lip plumpers (by way of glosses, masks and balms) may be considered by many a risk-free route to a subtly fuller pout – but in reality that isn’t always the case.

The deal with lip plumpers

Consultant dermatologist Dr Angela Tewari tells us that traditional lip plumping products are often effective due to ingredients that “trigger an increase in blood supply to the lips so they look plumper”. Typically, “the irritants will be certain fragrances such as hydroxyperoxides of limonene and linalool and these can make skin sore, red and itchy”, while “other lip plumpers include small amounts of the active ingredients in peppers such as capsicum extract” – a lower-grade irritant that will tingle the lips as oppose to stinging them. While most are completely safe for short term use, “the result will only last for an hour or so and you need to keep reapplying them to get a continued effect”.

To side-step any long-term issues, Dr Tewari recommends investing in products that prioritise skin health. In place of traditional active ingredients that plump, like capsicum, menthol or cinnamon, look for a humectant “such as hyaluronic acid which acts as a moisture retainer,” she says. Meanwhile “almond, jojoba oil or vitamin E should give a nourishing boost to the lips”, and ingredients offering barrier protection is the icing on the cake – negating the need for a separate lip balm, too (here look for ingredients like shea butter and squalene.) Luckily, many of the new generation lip plumpers prioritise lasting skin enrichment over reactive swelling, with smart agents like the aforementioned that treat as they transform.

Below, find Harper’s Bazaar’s pick of the best lip plumping products that deliver accumulative benefits as well as granting instant gratification without the irritation.

The best effective and safe lip plumping treatments

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