I Tried TikTok’s 3-Second Lip Plumping Hack & It Was Such A Fail

Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
From using fake tan as lip liner (it works, I hate to say) to contouring your mouth with bronzer (also undeniably smart), TikTok is obsessed with all the ways in which you can boost lips naturally. While lip filler and even the 'lip flip' (a plumping procedure which enlists Botox) are still pretty popular this year, it seems more of us would rather use makeup to enhance our lips — no needles or reversals required.
If you're a makeup wearer with a TikTok account, you might've already mastered the art of over-lining your lips, or perhaps you've discovered plumping lip stains. But there's only one lip trick to take social media by storm this month — and it involves an eyeliner pen.
TikToker @alissakrn recently went viral for showing their followers how they achieve more of a pouty lip look. With lined lips and some lipstick in the centre, they proceed to pick up a brown liquid eyeliner pen and draw two very small lines from the outer corners of their lips inwards. The result? Lips which appear larger and more defined. Considering the many millions of views, it wasn't long before TikTokers like @jawashare stitched the video, amassing millions of clicks, too. "The thing is, I do get it! I used to do this trick all the time [...] it makes your lips look so nice and pouty."
The comments prove that this hack is something of a revelation for those looking for a quick fix to amplify their lips. But does it work off camera? Before I get into my review, a quick caveat: my lips, your lips — all lips — are perfect as they are. But makeup is fun, and if you want to enhance the shape and size of yours for whatever reason, that's entirely your prerogative. R29 is a judgement-free zone. Plus, if you don't like the way it looks, you can always just wipe it off.
I'm really into brown eyeliner at the moment, as it looks a little more subtle than jet black — namely Dior's Diorshow On Stage Liner in Matte Brown, £29. I never thought I'd be using it on my lips, but in the name of Beauty In A Tik, I had to give it a go. The trick, according to TikTok, is to dress your lips like you usually would. I used my favourite VIEVE Modern Lip Definer in Brat, £15, sketching outside the lines ever so slightly to lift my lips. Then, I filled in the centre with the Morphe X Ashley Strong Lip Gloss in Gilded Spirit, £12, which is a classic nude hue.
I'll be honest, this hack took multiple attempts. I started by drawing the line from the inner corner outwards, but it didn't quite work and left me with thick splotches. You have to be really light-handed, too. I went back to the drawing board and made like TikToker Alissa, drawing the lines very gently from the outer corner inwards.
On close inspection, the lines were incredibly obvious, and I realised I resembled someone... That's when it clicked. I had basically turned myself into The Joker.
Maybe because I was wearing lip gloss (or it could be down to the scorching weather) but the eyeliner smudged immediately and left me with muddy patches at the corners of my mouth, like I'd very much just enjoyed an enormous bar of Dairy Milk. Still, I really wanted this trick to work. What were the viral TikTokers doing that I wasn't?
On my third attempt, I blotted the corners with my finger to make the lines a lot less apparent, and then patted a little translucent powder over the top. On camera, this looked pretty great. Sure enough, my lips did appear more "pouty" and full. But IRL? Not great. Not great at all.
I wondered if it would pass the boyfriend test and asked mine if he noticed anything different about me. Apart from telling me my hair looked flatter (erm!) and that my foundation was too light (thanks!) he didn't notice — until I pointed it out. "It's weird when you look straight at it," he said, "but if you don't, it looks quite...normal. As if it's just a little crease."
I guess that's exactly what I was going for. The whole point of this hack is to mimic the tiny lip dimples typical of larger lips. Throughout the day, though, anything I ate or drank smudged the lines further outwards until I was left with two suspicious dots on the outer corners. Then they just disappeared into my foundation base...
I'm not the only one to be disappointed by this 'hack', with others pointing out that the results are very Joker-esque. "It was so obvious that my friend asked me if it was a leftover food 💀," wrote one TikToker underneath Jawaria's video. Another said: "I did the same thing and my friend said, 'Hey I think there's a smudge there'. FML"
Others have pointed out that focusing on something as small as lip line dimples is questionable. "I have it naturally and I never knew this was a thing," observed one. "People focus on the smallest things." Another wrote, "Its like a beauty mark, a face being 10x more beautiful just because of a dot."
Yes, the hack makes lips look a little bigger, but it certainly isn't practical. If you really do want to make them appear plump, though, there are two TikTok hacks which I believe really work a treat. First up: Mario Dedivanovic's 'lip lift'. This involves over-lining just your Cupid's bow and the very base of your bottom lip, keeping inside the lines elsewhere. The result is lips which appear twice as ample. If you're not satisfied, Huda Kattan's 'bow and arrow' lip plumping hack enlists strategically placed lip liner and liquid bronzer to add shape and definition to the Cupid's bow and chin. This gave my lips a serious boost and even my colleagues noticed.
Whether your TikTok likes are chock-full of videos such as this one, or you're not that bothered about your lips, makeup can be removed at the end of the day. Unlike cosmetic procedures, hacks like the above are pretty harmless. But will I be practising it again? Unless for Halloween, it's not very likely...
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.

More from Makeup

R29 Original Series