Buying Beauty - We Test Lip Plumpers
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By Darcy Meadows

We Test Lip Plumpers
N. V. Perricone
Girl Cosmetics
Joey New York

OK, now for $16,000, do you remember Bette Midler's great performance in the 1988 tear-jerking film, Beaches? Do you remember Barbara Hershey's scene-stealing lips? I thought so!

Lots of us want dramatically fuller-looking lips, lips like Angelina Jolie's, or Lisa Rinna's. But we don't want, or can't afford, those nasty collagen injections! (Angelina and Lisa have never revealed how their lips got so full -- what do you think?)

Just in time, cosmetic manufacturers have come up with what are generally referred to as "lip plumpers." So we at Fashion Finds decided to test the claims made by these so-called "lip plumpers," all of which claim to enhance the fullness of your lips. My mom always warned me that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

We chose five different brands: Joey New York's Super Duper Lips, BeneFit's Lip Plump!, Girl Cosmetics' Lip Enhancing Lip Gloss, Lierac's Coherence Lip Contour Fixing Care, and lastly, N. V. Perricone's Alpha Lipoic Acid Lip Plumper with NTD Complex.

It's important for you to remember that all Buying Beauty tests are 100% independent, performed without the knowledge of the cosmetic manufacturers. We're the only people who tell it like it is. We buy the cosmetics at department stores, drugstores, and sometimes online. As is true throughout Fashion Finds, our journalism is presented without fear or favor. We take money from no one we cover. We can't be bought.

My neighbor, Debbie, offered her assistance in testing these products, as well as my friend, Layla. My sister, Robin, and I rounded out the fabulous four testers.

I asked each woman to take notes on the essential attributes of each product: most importantly, did they truly act as "lip plumpers," were any of the products offensive in any way, what about their fragrance, texture and taste (just in case you end up tasting the plumpers the entire time they're on your lips), durability, as well as whether there were any irritations or allergic reactions. All the testers were instructed to use each product for four complete days, unless allergic reactions occurred.

For the testing, it was very important that we followed the directions exactly. Some of the product instructions were long and rather tedious, while others were quick, to the point, with even a touch of humor.

Joey New York's Super Duper Lips is a gel formula that claims to enhance your lips' fullness, plumpness, and thickness, while making them softer. Super Duper Lips comes with a lip lining pencil in a natural enhancing shade. The instructions read, "Apply a generous amount of gel to the entire top and bottom of the lips including the areas beyond the lips. After 2 minutes, with fingertip, gently massage gel into the lips and surrounding area using patting and circular motions on and off for 7 minutes. Then, with warm water, tissue off gel. Lips will appear plumper, fuller, and softer. Use as needed."

BeneFit Lip Plump! requires that you buy two products: one is a base to be applied under any of BeneFit's other lip gloss colors. Lip Plump! instructs, "Apply with wand and pat, pat, pat with fingertip. Wait 2 minutes before lipstick." The instructions continue, and I kid you not, "Apply on lips."

Girl Cosmetics' Lip Enhancing Lip Gloss. We tested the gloss in the shade "Jupiter," which is a light shimmering, sugary pink shade. The only information provided is "Tested on rock stars -- not animals." I can just see Britney Spears in a Girl Cosmetics testing cage for a week.

Lierac's product is cream textured, and claims to give you smoother and fuller-looking lips, to diminish fine lines, and overall, to enhance and give the appearance of younger looking lips. It instructs, "Apply a small amount of product to the lips and lip contour area with light massaging motions. Allow to dry for an instant, then apply makeup as normal. For optimum results, it is recommended to repeat the application last thing at night, after removing makeup."

N.V. Perricone offers a gel formula that is intended to clear up any fine lines around your lips, enhance the fullness of your lips, and make them appear younger-looking in the process. Perricone instructs, "Smooth a small amount over the lips and a narrow margin above and below the lips -- covering any fine lines at edges of lips. Apply lip color as usual. As a refresher during the day, pat Lip Plumper over lip color for added benefits."

Debbie was the first tester. She is half Caucasian and half Mexican, with thin lips. She first tested Lierac Coherence Lip Contour Fixing Care. "I liked this product a lot, because I have naturally dry lips, and the cream texture really added moisture back into my lip area. It also did appear to add a slight amount of fullness to the lips. With the moisture and softening aspect alone, I would consider this product for my regular routine."

Debbie next tried Girl Cosmetics' Lip Enhancing Lip Gloss. "The product was really sticky and thick, which I did not like at all. I don't normally wear lip gloss anyway, so something this obtrusive and nasty tasting is not up to my standards." Debbie did, however, like the shade of the lip gloss, and hoped it would enhance the look of her lips, but she didn't notice much of a change in thickness or fullness.

Debbie next tried Joey New York's Super Duper Lips. She laughed at the idea of the time it took (7 minutes), but reported, "It actually seems that 9 minutes does the trick, after which my lips did indeed look fuller. It left them feeling really soft, and the fullness lasted for several hours after the application." Debbie's only complaint was that the next day, her lips felt chapped and looked red. She continued the use of the product for four days, as we were all instructed to do, and the chapped lips remained until after discontinuing use.

Next up was BeneFit's Lip Plump! Debbie didn't mind the texture or application. The base was easy to apply, and Debbie used the two minute "drying" period to finish her other make-up. "This product was more user-friendly, because I didn't need to keep massaging and rubbing in the formula for a long period of time. I liked only having to pat it in for just a few minutes, then let it dry, before adding any lipstick." Debbie also liked the accompanying shade of lip gloss, "Classic red -- very sexy!" As for the "plumping" effect, she reports that sadly, there was no change in the appearance of her lips.

Debbie last tested N.V. Perricone's Alpha Lipoic Acid Lip Plumper with NTD Complex. "I really liked this product!" she reported, happy about its skin healing properties. "I think this and the Lierac were my favorites because they not only focus on the fuller appearance of your lips, but focus on the overall healthiness of the lips and the lip area." She liked the "slick, thin" texture of the product, and jokingly said it tasted like pound cake! She reported, "It gave me a tingling sensation a few moments after applying, and really left the lips super soft and fuller looking. Hours after applying, my lips were still very supple." She didn't see a dramatic change in the fullness of her lips, but did see enough. And added to the other benefits this product provided, she said she would definitely use it again. She smiles coyly, "Maybe even over the Lierac, for the pound cake thing, alone!"

The next product tester, Layla, is an eighteen year old Caucasian with nice, full lips. I included her in testing these products to see if they could enhance her already full lips. Layla started with Lierac's Coherence Lip Contour Fixing Care. She first reported that she did not like the scent at all. The application was "easy and quick, with no having to wait to finish your makeup." Layla liked that Lierac wasn't heavy or thick feeling, but rather light, once completely applied. "I could feel a thickness to my lips, so I know it was doing something! My lips are already pretty full, so I didn't see any drastic changes in thickness. However, using it for four days and before bed, I noticed that my lips, overall, looked much healthier. Very smooth and younger looking, even though I'm still a young 'un!"

Next, Layla tested the Girl Cosmetics' Lip Enhancing Lip Gloss. She reported that it had a nasty taste that remained until she wiped it off. Layla liked the color of the product, and said it made her lips feel thicker, but didn't look any different. "This product has an unflattering taste to it, and was really thick. I didn't like the heaviness to the product, and didn't see enough difference in my lips to use this product regularly."

Layla tested BeneFit's Lip Plump! next. She found the texture of the base coat (the plumper product, itself) "thick and sticky," which she did not like. But after a few minutes, the stickiness seemed to go away. Once she applied the lip gloss (we used BeneFit in "Groovy" for the testing) it was soft and supple. "I liked the color and the softness provided, but this product did nothing for me! With the others, I could at least feel a difference, even if I couldn't see it directly. But this product, did nothing at all."

N.V. Perricone's Alpha Lipoic Acid Lip Plumper with NTD Complex was Layla's next test. She found the taste and fragrance of the product was the most appealing compared with the others. She liked the light texture, and the fact that you can reapply the product over your lipstick, throughout the day, just for enhancement and softness. "It was definitely doing something, because there was a slight stinging sensation, and my lips felt softer than usual." There were no adverse effects. As for adding a noticeably fuller appearance, she didn't notice anything.

The last product Layla tested was Joey New York's Super Duper Lips. She followed the instructions exactly, "I held off on this one 'til the last, because of the 9 minute application, and I hate to say it, but it didn't give me any results at all!" She didn't mind the taste or fragrance, and the gel wiped off easily when finished, without leaving a greasy or sticky residue. However, as for the dramatically fuller lips they promise, "Nada!".

Robin was next. She is Caucasian; her lips are normal thickness. She first tried N.V. Perricone's Alpha Lipoic Acid Lip Plumper with NTD Complex. I told her how to apply it, and after a few minutes she called to me, "Um, Darc, it's stinging!" But Robin did enjoy the texture and feel of the N.V. Perricone product, noting that it wasn't sticky or heavy feeling. It smoothed her lips very nicely. And some plumpness was added, which she wanted to make sure was reported.

Next she tried BeneFit's Lip Plump! Robin hated the base primer Lip Plump! product, because it left her lips sticking together. There was no sign of her lips becoming any smoother or drier with time. She waited the 2 minutes BeneFit recommends, then went ahead and added the BeneFit lip gloss. The stickiness diminished a little, though not completely to her liking. As for making her lips look plumper, Robin reported, "It did nothing!"

Robin next tried Girl Cosmetics' Lip Enhancing Lip Gloss. "This was by far the easiest and time-friendly product." But Robin reported that it had a nasty taste that seemed to stay with her until the product wore off. "The color was helpful in adding the impression of fullness with its shimmering shade," she reports, "but as for fullness in general, I didn't notice my lips looking any fuller than normal."

Joey New York's Super Duper Lips was Robin's next testing product. She is the mother of three, and not exactly psyched about a 9 minute application for plumper lips, but for the sake of the test she agreed to do the time. She thought the gel was very sticky and thick, "But when you wipe it off, it doesn't leave a residue, thankfully." As for fuller lips? "Even with a 9 minute application, I didn't see any difference! And I absolutely hated the lip pencil that comes with the product. It was chalky and very unnatural looking."

Lierac Coherence Lip Contour Fixing Care was the last product Robin tested. She liked the silkiness of the product, and how it made her lips and the area around very soft and supple. She also used it before going to bed and after taking off her makeup, which left her lips feeling very soft in the morning. "It was very beneficial to the skin around the lips, and made my lips feel soft. I'd use it on a regular basis just to keep the skin so healthy and to reduce any fine lines around the lips. As for thickness and plumpness, though, again I saw no difference."

As usual, my test results are the last to report.

I'm Caucasian, with pretty thin lips. In fact, I usually joke that I have a bottom lip and then teeth. In other words, my upper lip is very thin, and could use as much "plumping" as possible!

I first tested BeneFit's Lip Plump! At first, the texture felt sticky and annoying. Additionally, if you don't normally wear a lip color, it would be somewhat hard to use this product, because like a concealer, it has a peach shade, that washes out your natural lip color. I'd definitely suggest using a color, or at least a slight gloss when using BeneFit. After applying and massaging the product as directed, it became less sticky, and when applying lip gloss, it became very silky and smooth feeling. I did not notice any significant plumping at all, unfortunately. I pressed on without much enthusiasm.

Second, I tried N.V. Perricone's Alpha Lipoic Acid Lip Plumper with NTD Complex. This product made the testing process a bit more interesting. It did, in fact, seem to add a tiny bit of fullness to the lips. It wasn't an incredible addition, but it did seem to cause the tiniest bit of fullness. I was very impressed with how soft and moisturizing the product was to the lips and lip area, without leaving an oily residue. I liked the clear gloss texture a lot, and it definitely softened the skin. As for the pound cake bonus, I'm taking the Fifth!

I next tried Girl Cosmetics' Lip Enhancing Lip Gloss. I hated it! The product was gooey, sticky, thick, and did indeed have the nastiest taste of any lip product I've ever used! As for the main purpose of this test, it did not add one ounce of fullness or plumpness to lips.

Lierac's Coherence Lip Contour Fixing Care was the next product I tried. It has a not-so-great fragrance and taste. I liked the skin care angle touted by this product, as with N. V. Perricone. I find that products that take care of one problem, while simultaneously correcting or preventing other problems, is definitely a bonus! Lierac works on the fine lines in the lip area, as well as keeping the lips healthy and soft. I honestly did not see any proof of this product "plumping" or enhancing the lips, unfortunately. But I'm with Debbie on the issue that I would use this product to keep the lips and lip area healthy, moisturized, and young looking, regardless of fuller appearance or not.

I last tried Joey New York's Super Duper Lips. I was very skeptical about this one, because the directions instruct you to distribute the gel evenly over the lip area, let stand for 2 minutes, and then massage it into your lips for 7 minutes, at which time it will bring a dramatically fuller-looking lip area, and "more kissable" lips. I was surprised that 9 minutes really doesn't seem quite so long once you actually commit to the deal. However, contrary to my pessimism, Joey did add fullness and a plumpness to my lips. Since my lips are very thin, it didn't exactly stop traffic, but people did notice I had fuller-looking lips. And it lasted several hours. I'd say it did pretty good in the testing, except that like Debbie, my lips became chapped and dried out after the first use. We used the products for four days, so I kept using it, but was I glad once I could stop using it and smooth on the Carmex!

The final lip plumping test results can be simply summed up: Save your money!

Overall, Lierac was liked by 2 testers and disliked by 2.

The Girl Cosmetics product was disliked by all.

The Joey product did nothing for anyone but me, and it irritated my lips as it did others.

Benefit? Disliked by all.

Perricone? Liked by 1 tester, with middling ratings from two testers, and one forget about it.

If you want your lips to look inflated, head for your cosmetic surgeon. That's what celebrities do. (Fashion Finds doesn't encourage cosmetic surgery, nor do we recommend against it. The choice is extremely personal. Please consider your options before committing to cosmetic surgery. If you choose to have surgery done, please be sure your surgeon is board certified, and speak with other of the surgeon's patients. --Gina)

For the rest of us? There's nothing now on the market to recommend. But you can be sure that the cosmetics giants in Europe, the US, and Japan are working long hours trying to come up with lip plumpers that actually work.

Please let us know about your experiences with lip plumpers, and surgical lip plumping too!  Click here to send us an email.

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