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The first time I stumbled onto a lip plumper was back in 2006. I was on a trip to New York City, and I wandered into Sephora and, along with several friends, swiped on a tester of lip gloss that promised to plump lips. We all felt the tingling sensation that lip plumpers are known for, and while it made me shy away from lip plumpers, one of my friends loved it and bought it there.
Lip plumpers have definitely changed since then, so I was interested to try a sample we received, Vivant Skincare’s Maxilip Lip Plumper ($19.95, amazon.com), a lip balm that promises to give you fuller, firmer, and smoother lips. By applying the balm three to four times daily, the user is supposed to experience a semi-permanent plumping effect.
In a 29-day study Vivant did on their lip plumper, women age 22-40 experienced a 40% increase in volume, 30% reduction of surface folds, 60% boost in hydration, and a 70% increase in protection, comfort, and softness. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the study to see how these numbers were obtained or what the parameters of the study were.
Maxilip achieves this through the use of petrolatum, palmitoyl oligopeptide, perfluorodecalin, and benzyl nicotinate. With the hopes of having Kat Dennings’ lips by the end of the day, I applied my Maxilip and kept applying it over a weekend.
Petrolatum: A Great Occlusive Moisturizer
Many of you should be familiar with petrolatum as a nourishing agent; most grandparents have a stockpile of Vaseline hidden somewhere in their bathrooms. Although there has been some backlash against petrolatum recently, there is a good reason why it has been trusted for decades.
Petrolatum is an occlusive moisturizer; when applied topically, this forms a protective barrier that moisturizes skin, thus preventing trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) (Conditioning Agents for Hair and Skin). However, when paired with allergens or other harsh irritants, petrolatum traps them in its barrier, causing a longer-lasting and more intense effect on the applied area (Allergy).
Palmitoyl oligopeptide: Smoothes Skin
A peptide is a chain of amino acids, much like a protein; although there is no real distinction between the two, proteins are generally longer.
Palmitoyl oligopeptide is composed of an elastin sequence (valine-glycine-valine-alanine-proline-glycine) that stimulates the growth of fibroblasts in the human body, thus accelerating angiogenesis, a process in which new blood vessels form from already-existing blood vessels (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology). It can be used to mimic parts of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, activating genes important to cellular regeneration. This helps to strengthen and smooth skin cells (Cosmetics & Toiletries).
It’s also increases collagen production, and one study shows that when used twice daily over a period of six months that it’s been shown to firm skin (Dermatologic Therapy).
Perfluorodecalin and Benzyl Nicotinate: Increases Oxygen
Perfluorodecalin is a fluorocarbon used to transfer oxygen more efficiently throughout the body (Biotechnology and Bioengineering), sometimes even substituting as a red blood cell (US National Library of Medicine).
Benzyl nicotinate acts in a similar way; applying it topically increases oxygen in the skin, thus increasing blood flow to the area (Journal of Biomedical Optics). This has a lasting effecting on the affected area; over a five-day period, repeated application caused baseline oxygen levels in the skin to be fifty percent higher than on the first day (The AAPS Journal).
With the two paired together in Maxilips, lips are going to be targeted with higher oxygen contents, leading to plumper lips that have a lasting effect when used regularly.
Personal Use and Opinion
I generally find the tingling sensation associated with lip plumpers a bit unpleasant, so I’ve avoided them. Maxilip Lip Plumper does tingle, but promises that tingling will decrease over time. The product smells like a mixture of Red Bull and Smarties, which wasn’t a smell I loved, but wasn’t offensive.
I applied the balm five times over the course of the day, and each application stung. I did notice, however, that each application stung marginally less than the previous one. My lips felt smooth and soft, even when drinking coffee or eating lunch wore off the balm. While I wouldn’t exactly call my lips fuller, I would say that they did look more pronounced or enhanced. I tried it over a weekend and while I personally felt it enhanced my lips, I’m not sure it was evident to those around me. This does have some effect, but it’s not huge or long-lasting (unless you continue using the lip plumper).
Vivant Skincare Maxilip Lip Plumper uses four important ingredients to give users a more defined lip; petrolatum acts as a moisturizing barrier to the lips, trapping palmitoyl oligopeptides, benzyl nicotinate, and perfluorodecalin in the area to increase collagen production and blood flow.
When the company says this provides semi-permanent results, it means that regular use increases oxygen and collagen, but that you have to continue using it for those results to stick. My lips feel as soft as silk, and look more defined than before, but perhaps not much plumper. While the smell is a little off-putting to me, I found that over the weekend it definitely kept improving my lips.