Nov. 30, 2011 at 3:45 AM ET
A chance to get lips like Angelina Jolie's without painful injections? Of course we were skeptical, but (we admit it) also a little tempted. In the name of research, we combed the cosmetics counters for the hottest new lip plumpers and came up with a myriad of products all aimed at boosting your pout.
Before jumping in, we wanted to answer the question, how does lip plumper work? To give you the low down on plumper, some work by irritating your lips with ingredients like cinnamon. (It sounds worse than it is.) Others have moisturizing ingredients that smooth your lips. And some are more like a makeup base—when lipstick is applied over them, your lips look fuller. Then there are the flat-out treatment products, containing ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids or retinol that are supposed to increase collagen production to give you plumper lips over time. Which lip plumper product is right for you? It all depends on if you're looking for a quick one-minute lip lift or a long-term bee-stung effect.
So, to get our research started, we handed out our favorites to a bunch of eager testers, and here are their reviews on the best lip plumpers out there:
Product name: Too Faced Lip Injection
Claim: The company says this clear gloss, applied with a brush, makes blood vessels dilate, which increases blood flow to the lips, deepening your lip color and making lips swell over time.
Tester says: "I don't know about long-term results, but I noticed an instant plumping effect. At first, I didn't like it; it feels gooey, it smells like cherry cough medicine and it tingles when you put it on. Then I looked in the mirror, and I really liked the effect. My lips looked slightly swollen and pinker. If you use it over lipstick, your lips even look poutier. But this product is not to be applied before a good-night kiss—it's too thick. Think of it as a behind-the scenes enhancer."
Product name: Avon BEYOND COLOR Plumping Lipcolor with Retinol
Claim: Smoother, fuller, younger-looking lips are what Avon's product aims for. Supposedly, the lipstick's retinol reduces lip lines, collagen retexturizes and other ingredients moisturize for "100 percent instant lip plumping."
Tester says: "I must admit, I'm a gloss junkie, and even in its pretty case, this lipstick didn't tempt me much. After trying it, I liked it even less. It's supposed to soften your lips; mine only felt dry, making me want to lick them or douse them with gloss. It felt a little cool, not tingly, and a bit chalky. I would have liked something creamier. There are 20 shades to choose from, but the one I tried was too pale to wear as lipstick. No bigger pout for me, either. A plus: It's only eight bucks!"
Product name: Origins Underwear for Lips
Claim: This lip primer promises long-lasting, no-fade protection. It's supposed to glide on effortlessly, plump, shape and fill in cracks and lines on the lips. You just apply three dots, blend and top with lipstick.
Tester says: "I had never used primer before, and when I smoothed this on, it felt really moist and wet for a few seconds, and then it was like I had nothing on my lips. It felt like a light foundation or powder for the lips. I loved it. My lips felt really soft, and though the lipstick I used over it didn't see me through the night, the primer did. My lips do feel healthier, and maybe a teensy-weensy bit fuller. Verdict? It's great as a primer. They call it underwear, but they don't mean cotton '- think really sexy, silky lingerie."
Product name: CITY Lips Collagen Plumping Treatment
Claim: CITY Cosmetics says its plumping treatment enhances collagen and visibly increases lip size. It also claims the product reduces lip wrinkles when used over a period of time.
Tester says: "This is a lip treatment, so don't think you'll have your sexy pout by dinner tonight. I liked the fact that they took the 'treatment' aspect seriously, creating a tinted gloss for the daytime and a clear one for the night which works while you sleep. I never remembered to use the night one; the tinted day gloss, however, was fabulous. I stopped using any other lip gloss because it really felt great on my lips. The application brush was better than a wand and allowed for smooth, even coverage. I did feel tingling (a little irritation too), and after a month, I have noticed a subtle yet visible lip size increase. Hey, I feel sexy! But more than that, it definitely makes your lips smoother and softer."
Product name: Eyeko's Super Size Shine
Claim: This product, which comes in an easy-flow pen with a brush applicator, is supposed to enhance the shape and texture of your lips with regular use. The company says it increases volume by compensating for lack of collagen in the lips. It's supposed to be so lightweight that it can be used as a base or a gloss and is meant to taste like spearmint.
Tester says: "I tried it, waiting for the 'minty fresh' effect, but no luck. It's a smooth everyday gloss, but it did nothing for my lack of collagen. I liked the penlike applicator, though. It was fun to paint my lips with gloss that came out of a brush. It was totally nonsticky, which was great. My lips felt noticeably softer and smoother, but I had to keep reapplying. This is definitely not long lasting, and with the constant retouches, you can run through the product pretty quickly.
Product name: DuWop Venom Gloss
Claim: This product is purportedly the queen of all lip plumpers. It's said to be a long-lasting gloss that increases circulation and lip size with its blend of cinnamon and ginger oils. The taste is supposed to be spicy, and the feel tingly. The intended result: shiny, glossy, bee-stung lips.
Tester says: "Who said 'No pain, no gain'? Whoever it was was talking about this lip plumper. As the name suggests, it's not for the fainthearted. It really stings (do not apply to chapped, broken lips!), but the results are remarkably quick and dramatic. For me, the pain was worth the plumpness, but unfortunately, the results are temporary. Lip Venom flushes, plumps and irritates beyond compare. If you need sexy lips tonight, make this truly wicked gloss your one-night stand.
Product name: N.V. Perricone Alpha Lipoic Acid Lip Plumper with DMAE
Claim: This gel-type treatment claims to reduce wrinkles and lines and enhance your natural lip color if you apply it four to five times daily.
Tester says: "I liked the light, slick texture of the product, and it has a lovely orange taste. When I put it on, my lips felt supermoist and rich with no oil-slick effect. I loved the fact that you could apply it over lipstick throughout the day, which I meticulously did. It tingled a bit, and I thought I noticed a more defined lip line, but I'm not sure how plump my lips got. They did feel soft and smooth, though. Be warned that when you open this product, the gel sprouts out of the tube unassisted.
Price: From $34
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.