If there’s one beauty trend that’s enjoying a prolonged moment in the spotlight, it’s the desire for voluminous, plumped pouts.
But it hasn’t always been that way.
‘Historically, beautiful women had tiny lips. However, in recent years, full and plump is the trend we’re choosing to follow for lips,’ says Dr Rosan Humdani of Obagi Medispa. ‘It’s popular for a number of factors – the top two being social media engagement and celebrity following. Seeing some of the most-followed celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Kylie Jenner with plumped pouts makes us want to emulate their style.’
Speaking of social media, it won’t take you long to discover a plethora of tips and tricks online to boost what nature blessed you with. When beauty blogger Farah Dhukai (above) posted a video tutorial on Instagram in November instructing her loyal fans to rub wasabi into their lips – yes, you read that right – to achieve the fullness they’ve always dreamt of, we were left wondering whether the secret to the perfect pout lay in the depths of our sushi delivery bag.
‘Get soft, plump, full lips without needles or sucking on cups or objects,’ Farah wrote below her video tutorial, which has now been viewed over 13 million times. She went on to explain: ‘This trick is a great way to get plump lips that look like you’ve had lip fillers!’
The video showed her squeezing wasabi on to her lips, rubbing it in, leaving it for one minute, removing it, and immediately moisturising with a lip oil. And what does she promise our lips will look and feel like after? ‘They’ll be extremely soft, wrinkles will be filled in, they’ll have a natural pink colour, and they’ll be so plump people will think you’ve had them done!’ (What she doesn’t explain is why you’d want anyone to think that.)
So does it really work? There are mixed opinions among experts. Cosmetic chemist Ginger King has her reservations: ‘Wasabi doesn’t work the same way as the regular spicy foods we’re used to,’ she explains. ‘The hotness is different to the spice created by chilli peppers, for example, which make use of capsaicin, an irritant known to produce a burning sensation with any tissue it comes into contact with [lips, nose, eyes, and of course, the tongue]. That irritation can cause tissue to swell – if you can stand the sensation, that is. Wasabi, on the other hand, stimulates the nasal passage and mucus membranes more than the tongue, which is why sushi is such a good choice if you have a stuffy nose.’
But don’t write it off just yet, as New York-based cosmetic dermatologist Dendy Engelman adds: ‘Natural wasabi… is antimicrobial and packed with phytochemicals, vitamin C, potassium, and calcium, all of which stimulate circulation.’ So there may be an element of truth to the idea that the rush of blood these things stimulate would speed a delivery of nutrients and oxygen to your lips, which in theory could make them smoother and more nourished (even if they aren’t necessarily fuller).
But Dendy warns: ‘Wasabi in a tube is not 100 per cent natural – and if you choose fresh wasabi instead, there will be preservatives. Additionally, if your lips are not healthy to begin with and you have open cuts, this method will only make it worse.’
So with the evidence suggesting that wasabi is best reserved for sushi rolls, what alternatives do we have? We’ve taken a look at the options, from home remedies to injectables to lip glosses that give the illusion of volume – not a green sachet in sight.
The make-up solution
Make-up artist Katharina Brennan has worked in Dubai for more than 10 years (she did the make-up for this week’s cover shoot). She says using a lip gloss is the easiest way to make your lips appear fuller.
‘The gloss reflects light and gives the illusion of ultra-hydration. For everyday looks, I would suggest a peach or soft pink gloss.’
Try Benefit Dandelion Ultra Plush Lip Gloss (Dh427, desertcart.ae).
‘Use a nude lipliner to fill in your lips before using coloured lipsticks. This will ensure your lip colour will stays longer and it will also create a slightly bigger base for your lipstick.’
If you decide to follow the current trend for lining along the outer ridge of your lip, tread carefully, she says. ‘I personally am not a big fan of overdrawn lips, since it doesn’t look very natural. If you really want to do it, I would suggest doing it very subtly.’
One of the simplest techniques is to add a little highlighter to your Cupid’s bow (on your upper lip). ‘I would suggest a shimmer in rose or beige. Just tap it on and don’t try and make it look too perfect.’ Stay away from dark lipsticks, as they will absorb light and make lips appear smaller and thinner. Finally, ‘everyone knows exfoliation is good, yet most people forget their lips. It is easy to exfoliate your lips by using a soft toothbrush. With the added bonus of promoting circulation, your new fuller pout will be flake-free’.
‘Women spend a lot of time looking for products that maximise the lips’, says Lipstick Queen founder Poppy King. ‘It seems like every day there is a new lip-plumping creation, most of which are uncomfortable to use and end up in the black hole of your bathroom drawer.’ The eight shades of gloss in her Big Bang range (Dh185, Bloomingdale’s Dubai) have a ratio of shine to shimmer to create the illusion of fuller lips.
The home treatment
Fillerina Lip Pen Grade 3 (Dh289, Bin Sina)
The gel inside this easy-to-use pen has six hyaluronic acid molecules with different molecular weights. It sounds complex, but the brand promises that with continued use, you can expect plumping effects that last up to three to four months, with a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
It isn’t just older skin that will benefit – if you smoke, regularly drink with a straw, or have a habit of pursing your lips, this product will smooth the fine lines that have developed around your mouth. Spread a uniform layer of gel over lips, up to five times a day.
The cosmetic solution
Envy Kylie Jenner’s pout? After months of denying it (leading to irresponsible fads such as the lip challenge, which we do not recommend) Kylie revealed to the world that her trademark pucker is thanks to injectable lip fillers. The results are instant and long-lasting, and there are plenty of clinics in the UAE that will recreate the look for you. While it’s a drastic change, fillers now are more natural than they used to be; made from hyaluronic acid, a substance found in the body, they can be injected, and are broken down by the body over a few months.
Roberto Viel, founding partner of London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery, uses them. ‘We only use fillers made with hyaluronic acid like Juvederm. These are safe fillers for the lips that last around six to eight months. The fillers are not permanent and can be removed with hyaluronidase [an eraser enzyme] if you aren’t happy with the results.’ From Dh2,250; call 04 375 2393.
The lunchtime treatment
Fotana for Lips
‘Once upon a time it used to be that if you wanted fuller lips, the only way was to have fillers,’ says Rebecca Treston, of Rebecca Treston Aesthetics at Euromed Clinic Dubai. ‘But this quick and easy treatment is pain-free and has no downtime. In less time than your lunch hour, your lips will look fuller and more youthful.’
It involves a series of targeted heat pulses into the mucosa of the lips, which triggers a collagen reaction to give a fuller look. Lips don’t lose their natural shape, but become more plump and enhanced. It takes a few months post-treatment to really notice an optimum effect, although it can be a little sooner. The clinic recommends a minimum of three sessions and a maximum of six, spaced one month apart so the collagen has time to grow. Dh850. Call 04 394 5422.
Lip service: 5 must-haves
Lush Bubblegum Lip Scrub (Dh63, Lushmena.com)
Elemis Lip Revive (Dh120, Elemis.ae)
Dermalogica Climate Control Lip Treatment (Dh65, Basharacare.com)
L’Occitane Shea Melting Honey Lip Balm (Dh49, ae.loccitane.com)
Sephora Lip Mask (Dh12, Sephora.ae)