Lip Service: Aging and Lip Plumpers

Patient Expert

As the old saying goes, a woman's true age shows first on her neck and hands. Well, it's probably a wise idea to take a good look at your lips while you're at it. Over the years, the lips begin to thin out and lose their plump pout.

There are a multitude of reasons why lips seem to shrink. Sometimes, it's simply genetics. Chances are, if your parents' lips have thinned out, yours will too. In addition, smoking and tanning cause further damage by breaking down the collagen in your skin. Your lips are particularly susceptible to this breakdown for two reasons. First, the skin on your lips is thinner (which is why it cracks so easily when chapped). In addition, lips have no oil glands or melanin to help protect from drying and damage.

Don't mind spending some money? If you're looking for a long-term way to fix the problem, ask your dermatologist about injectable collagen fillers. These types of treatment use either bovine or human collagen to add fullness to soft tissues like lips. It usually costs about $300 per treatment and can last anywhere from six months to a year. New breakthroughs in collagen treatments now reduce the risk of any allergic reactions patients may have with injections. Your lips may seem a little too swollen when you leave the doctor's office, but this will fade after a few days.

Those of us with slimmer bank accounts can forego the fillers and try one of the many temporary "lip plumpers" on the market today. Over the past few years, the demand for these products has risen dramatically. Nowadays, you can even find them separated from other lip products on most beauty websites.

Most lip plumpers work using a simple strategy: Irritate the skin on your lips in order to cause minor swelling. Ingredients such as cinnamon, capsaicin (from peppers) and peppermint will cause reddening and mild plumping of the lips. The level of irritation on the skin is about the same as the sting from a hot pepper. Too Faced Lip Injection and DuWop Venom are two popular brands of this kind of lip plumper.

If you have sensitive skin or simply refuse to suffer for beauty, CITY Cosmetics and LipFusion provide alternatives. These two lines of lip products contain particles that attract moisture and plump up, gently swelling your lips to a fuller appearance. Both products boast the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, which guarantees a full refund from Good Housekeeping if the product is found to be defective within two years of purchase. In addition, LipFusion recently won the Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) Insider's Choice Award for best lip treatment.

Some women dislike the sticky texture of lip gloss. In that case, use these products as a primer (wait until your lips plump) and then apply lipstick. To prevent feathering into the tiny wrinkles around lips, try using a product like DuWop Reverse Lipliner. Instead of applying directly onto the lips, apply around the lips to fill in fine lines and prevent lip color from bleeding.