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Jun. 29, 2011

How Lip Plumpers Work

by April Garbuz

Click to enlarge images

By April Garbuz, Wilton High School

Women will try anything to achieve fuller, sexier, more kissable lips. As we smear our mouth with sticky glosses, what are these lip plumpers really doing?

Lip plumpers aim to irritate the skin on your lips so they swell slightly. Natural ingredients such as cinnamon, caffeine, ginger, menthol, and capsacin (the hot part of chili peppers) cause this irritation. This ultimately increases vasodilation, or widens the blood vessels, causing more blood flow to the area. Vasodilation forces the capillaries, small blood vessels, to allow more blood and tissue fluids to leak from the capillary walls to your lips.

Another approach is the use of niacin (vitamin B3), which causes flushing of the superficial capillaries of the skin. This creates a painful stinging sensation, so ingredients that soothe the inflamed skin often accompany the vitamin.

In either approach, the results of lip plumping gloss are temporary and uncomfortable. It’s up to you to decide: how badly do you want plumper lips?

For more on the science of beauty: The Chemistry of Waterproof Mascara

__________

April Garbuz is a TalkingScience summer intern and a junior at Wilton High School. She loves science, debating, acting, and swimming. Ultimately, she'd like to be a research scientist.

 

About April Garbuz

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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