There’s no denying the Kylie Jenner effect is still going strong. The beauty mogul is better known for her pout these days than her famous family is. And she has arguably popularised the trend for creating fuller, pouty lips with the help of lip injections.
But you don’t have to turn to the needle if you’re looking for a plumper pout, as there are alternative, commitment-free ways to fake a fuller lip. Make-up tricks can work like magic, as well as the latest batch of lip plumpers.
The latter come in many forms and finishes, including masks, balms, lipsticks, oils and glosses, but they all work in one of two ways. Some are short-term lip boosters – these use mild irritants or inflammatory ingredients such as, peppermint, capsicum pepper or cinnamon, to increase the blood flow and swell the lips temporarily. The other type relies on hyaluronic acid or collagen-producing peptides to plump over time.
While it’s important to manage your expectations, lip plumpers are not going to mimic the filler treatment, but they are the next best thing that goes some way to creating subtle shape, volume and smoothing lines. These make a great alternative to those looking for a more natural option, without the pain, price tag or up-keep of the non-surgical procedure.
How we tested
With so many lip plumpers on the market, we put the latest to the test – those that work both short-term and overtime and those that create the illusion of a fuller lip too. To make this winning line-up the tube not only had to be able to fake fullness but also offer added benefits whether it be colour payoff, moisturisation, or even line-smoothing. These are the best ones we found.
The best lip plumpers for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Dior addict lip maximizer: £29.50, Johnlewis.com
- Best for long-wear – Fenty Beauty gloss bomb heat universal lip luminizer + plumper: £19, Boots.com
- Best for hydration – PCA hyaluronic acid lip booster: £42, Dermoi.com
- Best value for money – Maybelline lifter gloss plumping lip gloss: £8.99, Superdrug.com
- Best lipstick and plumper in one – Too Faced lip injection power plumping cream liquid lipstick: £20, Boots.com
- Best for plumping vertical lines – StriVectin anti-wrinkle double fix for lips plumping and vertical line treatment: £29.50, Feelunique.com
- Best all-in-one – Indeed Laboratories hyaluronic+ tinted lip treatment: £14.99, Lookfantastic.com
- Best fun tingling sensation – Milk Makeup electric glossy lip plumper: £21, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for nude shades – Nudestix lip plumping lip glaze: £24, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best colour range – Mac powerglass plumping lip gloss: £19.50, Lookfantastic.com
Dior addict lip maximizer
This bestselling lip gloss has both instant plumping powers with its minty formula, as well as long-term thanks to the superstar hydrator and key ingredient hyaluronic acid. Choose from nine flattering shades, but we recommend 010 translucent pink for a suit-all shade. Swipe on the high shine formula and watch the shimmering light-reflecting particles create the illusion of that voluminous I’ve just been kissed perky pout. The versatility is brilliant, use it as a lip plumping base (if you wipe off excess), as a brilliant gloss on its own or as a topcoat.
Fenty Beauty gloss bomb heat universal lip luminizer + plumper
Best: For long-wear
Fans of the much-loved gloss bombs from the brand, need to give this new non-shimmer gloss-plumper-hybrid a go. Enriched with ginger and capsicum pepper extract, this is a fiery plumper that tingles like you’ve eaten chilli – not in an unpleasant way but a rather addictive one. Moisturising shea butter and vitamin E lock in moisture, so lips stay comfortable feeling, as well looking plump.
We put the sheer cherry red on trial, but three more gorgeous shades have just launched. We found the colour paired well with smokey eye make-up, worked beautifully layered on top of our favourite red lippy or used on its own for a sheer wash of high shine colour.
PCA hyaluronic acid lip booster
Best: For hydration
Keep dry, chapped lips at bay with this irritant-free formula that boosts hydration courtesy of moisture-boosting super-ingredient hyaluronic acid. Coupled with collagen-stimulating peptides that minimise lines and boost volume, think of this as a skincare extension for your lips. We found with continuous use for two weeks our lips felt much softer and smoother with a definite plump to them that disappeared when we stopped using it.
Maybelline lifter gloss plumping lip gloss
Best: Value for money
Gone are the days when you have to compromise and put up with stickiness if you want an ultra-glossy finish from your high street lip gloss. There are eight shimmering shades to choose from that create the illusion of a bigger lip with these light-reflecting particles. Boasting a dose of super-moisturiser hyaluronic acid, we used this consistently for one week and beautifully soft and smooth lips without needing to use anything else.
Too Faced lip injection power plumping cream liquid lipstick
Best: Lipstick and plumper in one
The iconic plumping formula from Too Faced now comes in this liquid lipstick with some serious staying power. Promising to stay put for eight hours, the bold matte colour certainly did that without needing to reapply. It even stayed put during a night out eating and drinking with the girls.
Expect your pout to heat up and tingle straight away, leaving a smooth even and plump finish that even more mature lips that find it harder to wear matte liquids can pull off.
StriVectin anti-wrinkle double fix for lips plumping and vertical line treatment
Best: For plumping vertical lines
This 2-in-1 lip treatment will plump your vertical lines around your lip, as well as the lips themselves with its hyaluronic acid and peptides formulation. It’s a great option for those with smoker’s lines or those that find their lipstick feathers outside the lip line.
On one side there’s a lightweight serum to dab around the lip where lines are prominent. Flip the tube over and you’ll find your glossy lip plumper that enhances your natural lip colour when used on its own, or as we found, as a topcoat for our favourite lipstick. Use twice a day, and expect to see results after a week.
Indeed Laboratories hyaluronic+ tinted lip treatment
This tube ticks so many boxes for us. It’s super hydrating, just like your favourite lip balm but with the added benefits of leaving a gloss like shine, a natural tint (there are 4 shades to pick from) and of course a plumping effect.
Another hyaluronic and peptide formula that provides continuous lip care and all at a purse-friendly price. We kept this in our handbag for two weeks for on the go top-ups and became slightly addicted to re-applying as it made our lips look and feel so good.
Milk Makeup electric glossy lip plumper
Best: Fun tingling sensation
With the fieriest sensation out of all the tubes we tested, this even gets to the point where lips feel slightly numb. That’ll be the Sichuan pepper’s heat kicking in, and while this one’s going to be like Marmite – we really loved it. Just like a bit of spice in your cooking, it gets rather addictive to use. Our testers thin top lip swelled with a lifting effect that noticeably made lips look bigger.
It’s not just a short-term effect though, as it’s also enriched with plumping lip care ingredients that work overtime, including collagen and hyaluronic acid that leave your pout softer, super smooth and comfortably hydrated.
Nudestix lip plumping lip glaze
Best: For nude shades
Finding your perfect nude, for that natural “your lips but better shade” has never been easier with the Nudestix collection, but for a fuller-looking lip try going a shade or two deeper. Boasting a peptide packed formulation to plump lips with continued use and moisturising ingredients that will rival any lip balm, expect your pout to always feel comfortably hydrated. Coupled with the long-wearing glossy finish is, this has replaced our testers trusty lip balm as lips stay deeply hydrated, smooth and plump with ongoing use.
Mac powerglass plumping lip gloss
Best: Colour range
Reach for this tube for that high shine finish we were all obsessed with in the Nineties but without any of the stickiness. After a quick swipe, you instantly feel the pleasant cooling and tingling effect the formula has on the lips. That’ll be thanks to the ginger, capsicum and menthol crystals that swell and plump your pout.
There’s no drying out the lips either, as it’s also enriched with moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid, as well as avocado and coconut oil. We found the S-shaped wand a bonus for curving to the lip and making mirror-free application easy. Plus, there’re 18 sheer shades to pick from to match every taste and skin tone.
The verdict: Best lip plumpers
For a glossy lip plumper that leaves your pout smooth, comfortably hydrated with brilliant shine, our IndyBest goes to the Dior addict lip maximizer. If you’re looking to spend less, make the Indeed Laboratories hyaluronic+ tinted lip treatment your go-to.
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For more beauty buys, check out our review of the best tinted moisturisers for a natural, glowy look
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.