Lip plumping glosses are magic. I became enamored with them as a tween, fascinated by how the tingly formulas bloated my lips within mere seconds. I’ve since learned that the formulas are less sorcery and more science: the plumping effect is often caused by irritants, like capsaicin or menthol, to stimulate blood flow. Consequently, lips appear swollen (albeit temporarily). Nevertheless, I’m still captivated by the illusion they can create.
I’ve collected countless glosses over the years. Of all the formulas I’ve loved, none have made such a permanent home in my purse as the Too Faced® Lip Injection Glossy ($19). (Reach into my bag and you’ll find no fewer than two — sometimes up to four — tubes of the stuff rolling around.) The formula comes in a six-shade spectrum: jellybean purple, bubblegum pink, two nudes, and — my personal favorite — a juicy coral that pairs well with warm weather. The shades run super-shiny and semi-opaque, and I usually wear them alone for a wash of color. I’ve also tried them over matte lipstick when I when I want a bit of a boost, and the plumping power is just as strong.
That plumping power comes thanks to capsicum frutescens resin — an irritant derived from a species of chili pepper — and benzyl nicotinate, a chemical compound that increases blood flow. On their own, these ingredients can be drying, which has proved an issue with other plumping glosses I’ve tried. However, the Too Faced Lip Injection Glossy is spiked with avocado and jojoba oils to maintain suppleness. Thus, my lips don’t feel like the Mojave after the gloss wears off.
Within 20 seconds of applying the gloss, I notice a slow, steady tingle building. Then, the tingle erupts into a roiling prickle, popping around as if you’ve dipped your lips in Pop Rocks®. Eventually, the feeling settles into an even simmer. And, while your lips might feel as if they’re smothered with fire ants, there’s no visible sign of perceptible irritation — which is more than I can say for a handful of lip plumping glosses, many of which leave a telltale red ring around my vermillion border.
One thing I did notice: a flattering boost in volume. I’ve even asked friends whether they notice a difference, and the answer has been a unanimous yes. That said, there’s only so much volume a topical product can provide. And, of course, gloss can’t change the inherent shape of your lips. Instead, I like to think of it as a way to accentuate my pout, and I apply it when I want my lips to look their plumpest, shiniest selves.
But, these results come at a small price. As you may have gleaned, this gloss is not for the faint of heart: to slick it on is a commitment. In my experience, the burning lasts for around 20 minutes and simmers to a mild heat around 35 minutes. Only when you’ve been wearing it for 40 minutes does the sensation completely subside. (Yes — I’ve timed it.) Admittedly, though, I pile this stuff on thick, so this timeline isn’t necessarily accurate if you apply a normal amount.
Unfortunately, as is the case with many sensations, the more you experience this tingling, the more tolerable it becomes. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that my lips become almost immune to the buzzy feeling of the gloss during periods of prolonged and frequent use. I presume — both from logical deduction and from pure observation — that less discomfort equals less plump.
As a result, I do occasionally take a hiatus from plumping glosses. This isn’t solely because of the reduced plumping I’ve seen from using it too frequently, but it’s also out of consideration for my boyfriend. We’ve learned the hard way one too many times that it’s best to be gloss-free before you lock lips — though I reckon he’s used to the tingly feeling by now.
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