Get the latest from TODAY
It’s an epidemic. Teens across the country are turning to shot glasses — not to shoot booze, but to create grotesquely puffy lips.
Known as the #KylieJennerChallenge — inspired by the model and daughter of Bruce and Kris Jenner who has gained recent attention for her full lips — teens are using Instagram to instruct others how to plump their lips.
Its simplicity makes it all too easy to do, not to mention dangerous: Teens place a shot glass over their lips and suck for several minutes. When they remove the glass, they have exaggeratedly full lips thanks to the suctioning.
There are already over 65,000 posts on Instagram with the hashtag #KylieJennerChallenge, including everything from gruesome, swollen pouts to parody posts.
“It’s swelling. They are creating [a] hickey,” says Dr. Debra Wattenberg, a New York City dermatologist at NY Skin Rx. “There is no plus to this in my opinion. There is nothing to be gained other than injury, swelling, and scarring.”
Most teens who take the Kylie Jenner Challenge will have exaggerated lips for a few hours. But, Wattenberg believes the challenge presents other dangers, such as the shards of glass that could shower your face if the glass breaks mid-challenge.
Many who try it will sustain ugly bruises, while some will develop blisters and dry flaky skin around the mouth. For teens who have cold sores, suctioning can trigger a flare-up, and if they share their shot glass with friends, they’ll spread cold sores (or any other virus or bacteria they’re carrying). And, teens who do this habitually could trigger a chronic inflammatory reaction and scar the tissue, leading to disfigured lips.
“I highly discourage people from doing it,” says Wattenberg.
Jenner, who has said in the past that she's "bored" by rumors she's had lip injections, addressed the challenge via Twitter on Tuesday: “I’m not here to try & encourage people/young girls to look like me or to think this is the way they should look," she wrote. "I want to encourage people/young girls like me to be YOURSELF & not be afraid to experiment w your look.”
Michele Borba, a parenting expert and TODAY Parents contributor, says the challenge may be a new phenomenon, but serves as just another example of teens making, well, dumb choices.
“Think back, we all did [stupid things],” she says. “Those challenges have always been there and what’s fueling them more is the Internet … in the olden days, the peer pressure was other kids and now it’s millions.”
While the peer pressure encourages teens to engorge their lips with barware, they're still developing cognitively, meaning they sometimes don't think twice before making terrible choices.
“Social [approval] matters often more than what’s right,” says Borba. “The cognitive part of their brains that really helps them make decisions isn’t fully developed. You put it all together and it means that teens' decisions [are poor].”
Borba believes parents can discourage their teens from joining the Kylie Jenner Challenge by showing them the pictures of those who have bruised and misshapen lips from trying it out. But this means parents need to know about current trends.
“Be savvy and be aware. Do be aware of what is going on and keep your eyes and ears open because at least that gives you a talking point,” she says.
Wattenberg says teenagers that want to have fuller lips should try over-the-counter lip plumpers or makeup instead: “Become a talented makeup artist in enhancing lips and create bigger lips with lip liners and the right color.”