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Which plumping lip gloss is best?

While there are many techniques and tricks for making lips look plump and beautiful, none are as effective as applying a good plumping lip gloss. These products have evolved from their early days and are more effective and long-lasting than ever. Add over lipstick to give dimension to your pout, or use it on its own for a sheer, effortless effect. If you’re looking for a reliable plumping lip gloss, Too Faced Lip Injection Maximum Plump Extra Strength Lip Plumper in High Gloss is the top choice.

What to know before you buy a plumping lip gloss

Ingredients for plumping effect

There are two broad categories of plumping lip gloss: those that use hyaluronic acid to create plumping and those that use an irritant. Hyaluronic acid is a moisture-retention agent and subtly increases moisture in the lip, leading to hydrated, soft lips. It creates a mild plumping effect with no stinging. The second type of plumping lip glosses that use an irritant rely on various ingredients, such as peppermint, cinnamon and pepper extract, to irritate. These make lips noticeably plumper for a few hours. If your goal is dramatic plumping, an irritant-based plumping lip gloss is the way to go. Be prepared for some stinging, though.

Clear or tinted

If you’re applying a full lip, including contouring and highlights, you’ll want to opt for a clear plumping lip gloss to go over your lipstick and liner. On the other hand, if you prefer a one-step process, opt for a plumping lip gloss with a tint to it. You can find these ranging from subtle nude shades to more dramatic reds. A clear gloss is more versatile and is compatible with all your lipsticks, whereas you may need several tinted ones to suit a variety of looks.

Discomfort threshold

Simply put, irritant-based plumping lip gloss isn’t for everyone. If you’ve never tried one before, the heat and tingling generated by the irritant can be uncomfortable. The stinging is usually only pronounced in the first few minutes after application, but if you are sensitive, you may want to start small and see how you adjust before applying it to your whole lips. And while it’s rare, some of these types of lip plumpers can cause allergic reactions. Lastly, you’ll want to keep your lips off anyone else’s until you’ve cleaned the plumping lip gloss off, lest they also react to it.

What to look for in a quality plumping lip gloss

Clear or sheer color

Layerability is the key with plumping lip gloss unless you’re going for a nude lip. So look for a plumping gloss that isn’t heavy-handed with its pigments. 

Moisturizing ingredients

Even if its main plumping ingredient is a sting-inducing peppermint or pepper extract, you want a gloss that’s also good for your lips’ moisture retention. Look for ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid to ensure you’re getting a lip gloss that both plumps and moisturizes. 

Not oil-based

If you want gloss without a greasy feel, steer clear of glosses with high oil content. They’ll sit heavy on your lips, particularly if you’re layering them on over liner and lipstick, and will feel sticky over time.

How much you can expect to spend on a plumping lip gloss

You can purchase drugstore brands starting at around $8. Specialty brands range from $20-$40. 

Plumping lip gloss FAQ

How long does lip-plumping gloss last?

A. The answer to this varies from individual to individual and depends on how sensitive you are to the irritant used to cause the plumping. On average, you can expect a plumping lip gloss to cause noticeable plumping for one to two hours, with some products producing effects up to four hours. You’ll probably need to reapply through the night to keep the effect going.

Is lip plumper harsh for lips?

A. Although the effects of lip plumper come from irritants, they are generally considered safe. Look for any signs of flaking or ongoing irritation, and discontinue use if it persists. Also, be sure to moisturize lips after use.

What’s the best plumping lip gloss to buy?

Top plumping lip gloss

Too Faced Lip Injection Maximum Plump Extra Strength Lip Plumper in High Gloss

Too Faced Lip Injection Maximum Plump Extra Strength Lip Plumper in High Gloss 

What you need to know: One of the key names in the lip plumping space, this upgraded formula achieves a good level of plumping.

What you’ll love: Offering a range of both clear and tinted glosses, this highly effective lip plumper will work well with whatever look you’re hoping to achieve.

What you should consider: This stings. This may feel intense if you have sensitive skin or haven’t used lip plumper before.

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora

Top plumping lip gloss for the money

NYX Professional Makeup Filler Instinct Plumping Lip Color

NYX Professional Makeup Filler Instinct Plumping Lip Color

What you need to know: This budget drugstore brand consistently produces high-quality alternatives to more expensive products, and this lip color fits that bill.

What you’ll love: This line offers a good range of colors, and its mix of lipstick and gloss gives just enough coverage while creating moderate plumping.

What you should consider: This lip plumper tends to dry out quickly, so be prepared to reapply.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Buxom Full-On Plumping Lip Polish Gloss

Buxom Full-On Plumping Lip Polish Gloss

What you need to know: This is at the top of many lip plumping lists, with its strong plumping action and a full range of shades.

What you’ll love: A reliable and lasting lip plumper, this lush formula makes lips look great.

What you should consider: With no colorless option, you’ll have to be sure to match this gloss to your intended lipstick look.

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora and Ulta


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Maria Andreu writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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