Thanks in part to a certain new mom from Calabasas, who also has a penchant for colorful wigs and liquid lipstick, getting lip fillers is now about as pedestrian as having a facial in some beauty circles. While the cosmetic industry will surely thank her for the uptick in bookings, the truth is that naturally full lips have long been considered attractive. And the good news is that there are plenty of products and techniques you can try before resorting to the needle.
First things first: hydration. Finding a lip balm that works for you is crucial — your lips actually look smaller when they're dehydrated. It's a weird analogy, but think of how a sponge shrinks as it's wrung out, then enlarges when it absorbs water again.
Lip-balm preferences are seemingly as hardwired as being a morning or night person, so the best lip balm for you is whichever one you'll remember to apply. By Terry's Baume de Rose is an expensive — but truly unrivaled — moisturizing pick, and Charlotte Tilbury's new Collagen Lip Bath, which launches in May, is very promising. Collagen doesn't perform topically in the same way it does subcutaneously, as the molecules are too big to penetrate the skin, so take that part of the name with a grain of salt. Either way, it's excellent for hydrating, and contains peppermint extract to give a subtle plumping effect without the telltale burning sensation of a lip plumper.
And about that burning sensation: The reason so many lip plumpers are painful to use is that they work by causing inflammation, which makes blood rush to the area. The irritation makes your body release chemicals like histamines and prostaglandin, which gives a temporary plumped effect. Quite often, they use the same ingredients found in spicy dishes to harness those properties — which explains why your lips might look especially luscious post-spicy pad thai. Exfoliation has a similar effect. As well as removing dead skin cells, the stimulation of manually scrubbing will give you a short burst of added volume. You can buy a lip scrub for this, but many people find using lip balm on a cotton bud or a toothbrush just as effective.
Now, all that's left is to find the perfect lip-enhancing makeup. Use a lip liner that matches your lipstick closely, and sharpen it to a fine point. Draw ever so slightly over the edge of your lips, being especially careful around your Cupid's bow. Then, apply your lipstick. A classic makeup artist trick that really works is to apply gloss to the center of your lips for a more 3D effect — clear is fine, and much more utilitarian than buying one coordinating gloss for every lipstick you own. A dot of highlighter on your Cupid’s bow can help enhance this effect, too. It might not be quite as dramatic as Kylie's transformation — but it's an excellent, and needle-free, place to start.