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Neea Kuurne
courtesy of Neea Kuurne

We rank the best lip plumping products by results (and pain)

Plump it up

The first time I remember wishing I had fuller lips was also the first time I remember seeing Angelina Jolie, in Tomb Raider (and then again when I saw her in Girl, Interrupted). It’s really been in the last few years, however, that big lips have come to define beauty ideals, with celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Love Island’s Megan Barton-Hanson driving increasing demand for lip fillers as we (white women) attempt to emulate their enhanced pouts. 

“Google searches for lip fillers in the UK were 10 times higher than they were four years ago and have continued to increase,” Theresa Yee, senior beauty editor at trend and forecasting company WGSN told us in 2018. “Lip augmentation was the most popular non-surgical cosmetic treatment of 2016, and we are seeing a big focus on lips right now.”

For those of us not quite ready or willing to go under the needle to achieve a plumper pout, however, there are plenty of products out there that promise bigger lips without the injection – or suction cup or wasabi. Kinder on your bank account and with less permanent, slightly more subtle, results, plumping lip glosses are a fun (sometimes, see below) alternative for those looking to enhance their lips. 

To help you find the best, we have tested out some of the most popular products and ranked them, out of five, on results – and pain. Enjoy. 

GlamGlow Plumprageous Gloss Lip Treatment

Price: £18

Glam Glow’s Plumprageous Gloss Lip Treatment promises to “create the appearance of instantly noticeable fuller kissable lips” with its “triple plumping action with botanical plumping actives.” I’m testing out the clear version, but the product also comes in a variety of other tinted nude shades as well as matte options. 

After applying, I notice a slightly strange taste that I can almost feel at the back of my throat. Aside from that, there is a stinging sensation which, 10 minutes in only becomes more intense. My lips look a little plumper, however, after 20 minutes all I can feel is the tingle. 

Pain: 3/5
Results: 2/5

Soap and Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Pillow Plump XXL

Price: £10

Almost immediately after applying Soap and Glory’s Sexy Mother Pucker Pillow Plump XXL I feel a buzzing sensation on my lips, like they are vibrating at a very high frequency. I wouldn’t classify it as painful, exactly, but it is definitely unusual and I can’t decide whether it is a pleasant or quite unpleasant experience.

I am testing the shade ‘Nude in Town’ which is very flattering for my pale skin and my flatmate compliments me. So far, so good. When I look in the mirror, my lips definitely do look bigger like maybe they’ve been stung by a bee. The shine of the gloss helps, of course. 20 minutes later my lips are still tingling, by 30 mins they are feeling slightly numb.

Pain: 2/5
Results: 3.5/5

Pixi LipLift Max

Price: £12

This “peptide-infused lip plumper” has a pleasant minty scent which creates a slight cooling sensation at first, although it quickly goes away. My flatmate, who has now joined in on the action, says it reminds her of an After Eight. The colour (‘Sheer Rose’) is nice but hasn’t made any noticeable difference to the size of my lips. Would probably wear again as a regular lip gloss.     

Pain: 0/5
Results: 0/5

Too Faced Lip Injection Extreme

Price: £22

Too Faced’s Lip Injection Extreme is inspired by “medically proven blood vessel dilating technology” and boasts both immediate plumping and long-term results. After applying, there is an intense stinging that is stronger than the other products I’ve tested so far but also doesn’t last as long, and after 10 minutes the feeling has mostly gone away. I like the consistency of the product and the results are not bad either. My lips look swollen like maybe I’ve had an allergic reaction to something.   

Pain: 3.5/5
Results: 3/5

Nudestix Plumping Lip Glace

Price: £24

Nudestix’s plumping lip glace comes in four nude shades to achieve the “true my lips but better” look. I am testing the shade nude 06 for Medium/Tan skin tones which is definitely not my skin tone but the colour is nonetheless my favourite shade of the bunch. After application, there is a cooling sensation and the product feels very moisturising. Not much else happens. Not sure if it is the colour or a glossy mirage or I have gone crazy but my lips do seem a little bigger. 

Pain: 0/5
Results: 1/5

Lipstick Queen Lip Surge Plumper

Price: £18

Instant pain. My flatmate walks in after applying it clutching the wall. 

I suggest giving it a seven out of five for pain. “I would go up to 10,” she says. “The pain is real,” is the only other thing she is able to get out for the next few minutes. A pins and needles-like sensation, it feels like being stabbed by very small, but very real needles. Piercing. 

‘Smoke’ is infused with warming Cinnamon Oil which creates the plumping effect and also gives it its distinct spicy smell. It’s also, unusually, black and looks different on everyone I’ve seen it on. I don’t hate it. My lips are undeniably plumper. I doubt anyone would mistake them for filler but it is the most noticeable difference I’ve seen so far and I take a selfie (an almost unheard of occurrence). 

The initial intense pain calms down after about five minutes. After 10, it’s more of a low-level tingling sensation which at this point feels like nothing. 20 minutes in and the sensation is almost enjoyable. Is this Stockholm Syndrome?

“Wouldn’t put this on before kissing anyone,” is my flatmate’s verdict. 

Pain: 10/5
Result: 4.5/5

Tip: Lipstick Queen also offers a Lip Surge Plumper in the clear shade ‘Mirrors’ which contains a cooling spearmint oil, if the extreme pain aspect of ‘Smoke’ isn’t for you.

Project Lip Plump and Gloss

Price: £14

I think I’m supposed to use this gloss in conjunction with the plumping primer but I can’t find the primer. The gloss has a nice vanilla smell but I accidentally get some in my mouth and it does not taste good. My tongue tingles.

I press my lips together, as instructed. The tingling sensation starts off very slowly, before gradually growing stronger. It’s quite pleasant, I think. My flatmate agrees that she is enjoying it. Gradually it gets a bit stingier by my lips do seem fuller and the gloss is glittery in the best way – like maybe I have a galaxy of stars on my lips. 

Pain: 3/5
Results: 3/5