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Lip Plumpers: Lips You Can Smack or Totally Whack?

Lip Plumpers: Lips You Can Smack or Totally Whack?


“I am allergic to wheat, but I continue to eat pasta because I love the rosy glow I get when the hives begin to form.” If you heard a woman utter this statement, you would probably consider her ridiculously superficial, would you not? Well, I hate to break it to you, but this is basically the message conveyed by every woman who uses over-the-counter lip plumpers.

Thousands of women have recently joined the lip plumper craze in an effort to achieve a fuller, poutier look to their lips. These products range in price from drug-store cheap ($4) to specialty store mega-pricey ($50), and come with trendy names like Lip Venom, Naked Kiss, and even Too Faced Lip Injection. Over-the-counter lip plumpers temporarily increase color and fullness in the lips as the result of a mild allergic reaction. Ingredients in these plumpers, such as ginger, cinnamon, and peppermint oils, are irritating to the sensitive skin on the lips. When this irritation occurs, users feel what is billed as a “tingling sensation,” and lips begin to swell as the body works to stabilize the affected area. This reaction is what causes the red, puffy appearance that users seek.

While red, puffy lips are exactly what women who use these products are after, it seems to me that the gain may not be worth the pain. Many women have attested to the fact that these products do, indeed, work, giving them lips that seem slightly fuller and much moister. However, not one of these women has been able to claim that she has reaped any long-term benefit. For the most part, these products may help you look slightly more kissable at the beginning of a date, but when kissing time finally arrives, your lips will be back to normal.

In my research of over-the-counter lip plumpers, I have come across mostly unfavorable reviews from users. Many women say that these products are painful to use and only provide minimal results, if any. Furthermore, users must be careful to apply these products only to the lips and to avoid contact with any other skin, which will also become red and swollen from irritation. Some women even report that when they washed their faces after using these products, the “venom” spread all over their faces in a hideous rash. Furthermore, the men who kiss these women who have plumped up their lips may also be subjected to intense burning and redness. What is the point of having luscious lips if you can’t share the love?

What is my personal experience with lip plumpers, you ask? Well, let me tell you. Last weekend, I decided to combine my research with a little sister bonding, so off my sis and I went to the nearest Sephora store. We both tried the much-touted DuWop Lip Venom there. At first, we both enjoyed the tingling we felt when we used the gloss. However, our delight with this effervescent rush was short-lived. My sister was the first to feel the ill effects: I could see her face grow redder and her eyes grow larger as she struggled to play off the immense discomfort she was experiencing. I laughed till the tears came to my eyes as she frantically swabbed her lips with one-ply tissue. Then it hit me—like a ton of scorpions. Let me tell you, sister, this ain’t no tingle! I thought my lips were well on their way to spontaneous combustion as the light tingle grew to an overwhelming burning. I tried to wipe the poison off of my poor little lips, but only succeeded in spreading this devil juice all around my mouth and chin. Not cool, I tell you, not cool at all. We both left the shop with eyes red from the pain and the entire area surrounding our lips mottled and burning with terrible scarlet blotches.

When I agreed to take on this assignment, my intention was to scour the earth and try every OTC lip plumper I could get my hands on. Unfortunately for my readers, Lip Venom was my first and LAST foray into the world of “tingling” lip enhancers. I simply could not muster the courage to subject myself (and my poor little sister) to another experience with these products. I did briefly consider buying one of the less expensive and less potent plumpers available on the shelves of my local drugstore, but since the mere mention of the word “tingle” now makes me cringe, I decided to forego that purchase. I have come to the conclusion that I would prefer to have slightly skinny lips than to look like I was smacked in the face and sunburned at the same time. If I decide some day in the distant future that I am again dissatisfied with my less than pouty pucker, maybe I will just save myself the money and soak my lips in Tabasco.

Ladies, is it really worth all this pain to achieve Angelina-like, bee-stung lips? I say not. And, anyway, how is it that appearing “bee-stung” is sexy? It sounds painful and hideous to me, but I am just a lowly beauty writer. And did you miss the beginning of this article, where I clarified that these products are designed to trigger an allergic reaction? Maybe I just need to do a bit more research to understand why so many women are investing their money in a “beauty” treatment that is painful and only offers minimal results.

On that note, stay tuned for my next article; it’s shaping up to be a real doozy. I am traveling to meet with a remote tribe whose women have taken to walking on their hands all the time in an effort to keep their breasts perky. It makes nursing very difficult, and carrying water from the spring is a real bitch, but after a two-year trial their men all agree that the results are mildly spectacular.

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