In my youth, I was no stranger to lip plumpers. I remember those little glosses like it was yesterday. Well, let me rephrase: I remember the stinging, tingly sensation like it was yesterday. With one sticky swipe your lips would start to feel warm and practically start to vibrate. The formulas often contained slightly irritating ingredients—like certain essential oils, menthol, or even hot pepper—which trigger a localized inflammatory response. This would cause swelling, and a temporary plumping effect. As they say: Beauty is pain, or at the very least temporary discomfort.
These days I stick to only hydrating numbers. As I've gotten older, I’m all about skin strength and integrity—and far less about the aesthetics of it all. Caring for your skin’s health and longevity will set you up for success now and far down the line. And offering your lips ample hydration will have the pleasant side effect of adding a subtle, supple look. (OK, I’m less concerned about the aesthetics of it all, but not entirely devoid of vanity. You caught me!) And one of my favorite ingredients to get naturally plush lips is a very famous humectant: Hyaluronic acid. Yes, the star ingredient of many-a-hydrating serums makes a fabulous addition to lip balms.