Lip-plumping tools are everywhere. From suction devices to shiny glosses, there’s something for everyone. I see new products surfacing all the time.
That’s no surprise to anyone though, given the huge rise over the past few years in the number of people having dermal fillers injected into their lips.
But I worry about the real damage they’re doing.
And with words like ‘filler’ or ‘injection’ sprawled across the packaging of some of these products, it’s no wonder people are being sucked in to splashing their cash in the hopes of achieving a needle-free pout.
But people are doing so unaware that they’re buying products that can irritate skin and offer poor results.
It’s difficult to maintain plump lips without adding volume, and a lot of products on the market don’t work properly or achieve the desired look.
Lots of them contain ingredients like cinnamon, capsicum (which is found in hot chilli peppers) and menthol.
They cause vasodilation, which is the widening of the blood vessels, and make lips swell unnaturally.
They do return to their normal state afterwards – but they aren’t supposed to be irritated or dilated all the time.
When the products cause blood to rush to the surface of the lips it makes them sting and tingle, which is why people perceive them to be ‘working’.
And people become addicted to using them because they see and feel those very temporary results.
What concerns me, is some people even develop bad reactions to these products, and unfortunately they’re popular among teens who are too young to get lip fillers.
But those old enough have to ask themselves, are these products really safer alternatives to lip fillers?
Injectable dermal fillers are used to increase the volume and change the definition and contours of the lips, and other areas of the face.
They’re also used to fill out creases and wrinkles in the skin, or improve the shape of cheeks.
There are other types of glosses which promise perfectly plump lips, that only hydrate them, meaning they just appear fuller.
They contain collagen, ceramides and essential oils which moisturise the lips.
Some are also made with collagen – a protein found in the body which helps to keep skin and lips smooth and plump.
Collagen used to be the filler of choice for injectors, but most popular now are the products where the main ingredient is hyaluronic acid.
It’s a molecule produced by the body and helps to retain more than 1,000 times its weight in water within skin cells.
Some of the products out there claim the hyaluronic acid molecules in them penetrate the skin.
But, there’s a difference between having a product injected into your lips and putting it on them – the results obviously aren’t the same.
The only way a person will get a tailored approach to improving their lip contours is when fillers are applied by an experienced injector.
And if people, whether 18 or 38, are turning to at-home lip-plumping devices for the perfect pout, the likelihood is they will turn to injectable fillers one day anyway.
So if they’re going to spend time and money on alternative methods, in the hopes of achieving that lip filler look, I think they should really weigh up their options.
These products also can’t rectify a-symmetrical lips or change the shape of them – which is sometimes required when injecting to achieve the best look.
Specially-designed suction lip plumpers have been sold for years and became extremely popular after the Kylie Jenner ‘lip challenge’ went viral.
People from all corners of the globe took to the internet to show their results after placing their lips into a shot glass and sucking the air out – creating a vacuum which causes their lips to swell.
I think this is the most dangerous way to plump your lips – but it’s perhaps the most addictive because results are instant and once you’ve bought the product it’s yours to use for life.
Greg Bran, MD PhD, is a double-board certified Facial Plastic Surgeon, graduate of the University of Heidelberg, Germany and scholar of the European Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery (EAFPS).
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