How to get full, plump, youthful looking lips.


Celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Scarlett Johansson get almost as much attention for their lips as they do for modeling gigs, TV and film appearances. Full youthful lips are one of the #1 requests at my clinic, especially from women in their 30s, 40s, and beyond: “More, please!” 

With Valentine’s Day upon us, thoughts turn to love and kisses, and kisses make us think of lips!

Not everyone wins the genetic lottery and gets blessed with Kylie or Scarlet lips. But there’s no need to pout. There are plenty of ways to subtly enhance your lips and create a plumper, more youthful appearance.

Here are a few recommendations…

1. Avoid dark lipstick.

Dark lipstick tends to emphasize how “small” your lips are compared with the rest of your face. If you have light/fair skin, choose lighter lipstick shades—think: rose, peach, and neutral tones, not deep, wine-colored reds.

2. Try highlighting, contouring, and other makeup techniques. 

With a little bit of practice, you can use strategically-applied makeup to make your lips look significantly fuller. Here’s a brilliant YouTube tutorial by Kristina K with a few lip-plumping tips.

One really simple trick: place a small dab of clear gloss in the center of your lower lip. The gloss will catch the light in the room, creating a sort of “magnifying glass” effect, and your lips will immediately look fuller.

3. Try a lip plumping serum.

Lip serums typically look like a “normal” tube of lip gloss, but they’re packed with additional ingredients like cinnamon, menthol, hot pepper, or niacin, which is part of the B-vitamin family. Once you swipe a few drops onto your lips, your lips will tingle and burn slightly, and there’s a subtle swelling/plumping effect. Some women can’t stand the sensation, and others don’t mind it. If you want to give it a whirl, I like Lip Venom by Duwop.

4. Do a DIY sugar scrub.

Mix a teaspoon or two of sugar with coconut oil and a dab of honey, then massage into your lips to smooth and exfoliate.

5. Hydrate and moisturize, but don’t lick.

Keep your water intake up to moisturize from the inside out. But you’ll also need an outer layer of protection in the form of a good lip balm, since lips have no oil glands for protection. In the winter the cold and wind can easily dehydrate our constantly exposed lips. Lip tissue also has no melanin, so choose a balm with UV protection for daytime use.

Licking your lips to moisten them actually makes them worse. Saliva contains digestive enzymes including amylase and maltase that break down the lip’s protective barrier, causing burning, flaking, and dehydration.

5. Consider injectables. 

At my clinic, I use several types of fillers based on my patient’s needs. Volbella, Juvederm, and Restylane are our most popular lip-plumping treatments and can be used to define the lips, add volume and to minimize fine lines.  It’s a quick procedure that stings a bit. The effect is subtle and natural, and one injection lasts for six to twelve months.I sometimes use another injectable, Sculptra, to support the skin around the mouth, which softens folds and wrinkles, creating a more youthful appearance.

Investing in any type of cosmetic enhancement—whether it’s an injection, a laser treatment, or something more invasive, like cosmetic surgery—is a very personal decision. It can be an exciting investment, but it’s definitely not something to rush into. Do your research, talk to other women about their experiences, and talk to your physician to share your hopes and expectations and explore all of your options.

5. Smiles and kindness. 

It’s fun to explore makeup options, serums, and medical advancements, yet at the end of the day, your genuine smile is the ultimate enhancement for your lips, and since smiles are contagious, it’s good for others too.

But maybe Audrey Hepburn gave the most important beauty advice, “For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.”

~Dr. Sue

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