How to Formulate Lip Plumpers

Lip Plumper

Lip plumpers are a popular product used to achieve fuller lips. With so many on the market, how can they be formulated to stand out?

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Why are lip plumpers so popular?

The look of fuller lips has been desirable for many decades. Exaggerating the lips using colour is known to have started with the Sumerian civilization. Crushed berries, insects, henna, or clay would be used to provide more colour to the lips. The first commercially produced lipstick was sold in 1884 before lipstick became a huge success in the 1900s. Stars like Marilyn Monroe perfected the full-lipped look and helped pave the way for the trend of pouty lips. The early 2000s was the first time a lip-plumping product came out. The brand Too Faced released their Lip Injection gloss which now has multiple renditions. Famous actress Angelina Jolie was also named World’s Most Beautiful Star in 2006, her full lips being a sought-after feature by many. Perhaps the more extreme leap in popularity for lip plumpers came from the “Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge.” When famous celebrity Kylie Jenner posted a picture of plumper lips, young fans were eager to look like her. The prevalence of Injectable wrinkle fillers increased by 243% from 2000 to 2013. Lip augmentations that don’t include filler were up by 35%. It wasn’t just younger people wanting fuller lips, though. Fuller lips are a sign of youth, as lips tend to get thinner as we age. They are also a sign of sensuality, which can boost one’s confidence. For those who didn’t want cosmetic procedures, products like lip plumpers were the perfect solution.

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What makes or breaks a lip plumper?

Common topical lip plumpers cause blood to rise to the surface and swell the lips. This works by aggravating the skin on the lips using irritants. Milder irritants include cinnamon oil or menthol, giving the tingly sensation on the lips when put on. Stronger irritants could be an ingredient like bee venom. Bee venom is one ingredient known to be used in certain formulations but is not suitable for those with sensitive skin or allergies. Many consumers like the prickly feeling from these ingredients as the immediate sensation imply that the product is “working.” However, keep in mind that lip plumpers should not be painful. Painful plumpers have been known to be featured on popular influencers’ posts and videos specifically for their irritation. Usually, the feedback given is negative because they’re shown to cause such discomfort. As well, it’s important to note that these irritants only give temporary plumping effects. Therefore, a good lip plumper that would be better than others should meet the following criteria. Not too irritating, provide fullness to the lips all day, moisturizing, comfortable to wear, and be layerable.

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How to formulate a lip plumper that stands out

Level of irritation

Not every lip plumper needs to be irritating. Those with sensitive skin may prefer ones that don’t. This is entirely dependent on your brand’s vision and target market. As recommended earlier, milder irritants are likely a better choice. They generally are not painful to most and do provide initially visible plumpness. 


Long-lasting fullness

Whether or not you decide to use irritants, a good lip plumper should be effective throughout the day. The point of lip plumpers is to provide fullness to the lip. Consumers are more likely to be happy with a product that does not need to be reapplied in order for that effect. Formulations will need to include ingredients that draw moisture to the lips or promote vasodilation (increasing blood flow to the lips). Ingredients like collagen, hyaluronic acid, peptides, niacin (a form of vitamin B), or caffeine

work to do this. Cosmetic chemists can work on special blends of these ingredients and others to create the perfect formula for long-lasting fullness. 


Moisturizing formulas

It is always beneficial to add something moisturizing to soothe the lips while simultaneously plumping them. Drying lip products are generally disliked, and they bring to mind the opposite of lush, plump lips. Choosing the right blend of emollients and oils is essential for lip plumpers. Ingredients like argan oil or shea butter are well-known by many consumers to be moisturizing. Oils also add shine to the lips, which is great for a gloss formula.



Like any lip product, lip plumpers should be comfortable to wear. Formulas should not be too heavy on the lips. A lightweight feel is a great point to market and is typically well-received by consumers. If formulating a gloss, ensure it’s not too sticky. If it’s lipstick or balm, it shouldn’t be too waxy or stiff. 



Often, lip plumpers are used alongside other products as their main purpose is to simply plump the lips. So, it is always wise to create a formula that works well with many others. Testing the product on top or under other lip products is a great way to gauge just that. 

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Is it necessary to add a lip plumper to your line?  

As a brand, it is always important to assess which products should be created. Lip plumpers can be a great addition to your selection of lip products, but they’re not completely essential. Techniques like lip contouring are also popular and help consumers achieve the look of fuller lips. Promoting and marketing certain colours of lip products like dark lip liner or lighter lipsticks alongside regular lip glosses can save resources but still be on-trend. But, as lip plumpers are so popular and in demand, it could be worth it to produce one. Like with any product, this is highly dependent on your brand’s needs, goals, visions, and target market. 

Further reading:,the%20body%2C%20resulting%20in%20plumping.