Lip products have always been my most innocent guilty pleasure. The others- namely coats and bags- require ample credit cards and closet space. To satisfy the insatiable thirst of my pout, all I need to do is pass by a cash register and pick up the first lip gloss, balm, or salve I see on the counter. When I did just that many years ago and realized that I had purchased a so-called plumper called Lip Venom by DuWop, my feelings were conflicted. I sincerely wanted fuller lips...but not at the cost of subjecting them to torture. I simply could not tolerate the uncomfortable burning sensation and disposed of my short-lived lip plumper for good.

Fast forward many years later, and my outlook on lip plumpers has evolved. I have in my hands Hydropeptide Lip Plumper ($38), a very different product from its predecessor. Instead of a spicy sting, this plumper treats my lips to a refreshingly mild tingle and strawberry taste. The texture is neither too sticky nor too wet, and the color is a natural pink without overdoing the shine factor. My lips appear noticeably fuller and smoother. And it's no trick of the eye with light reflectors (which is how a product like Be Fine Lip Serum effectively works), but a visible volumizing effect that lasts as long as the gloss stays on my lips.

According to Hydropeptide, the plumping effect lasts even longer than that. Independent studies over an 8-week period involving thirty-six women ages 21 to 65 showed both immediate and long-term results. Within 10 minutes, 97% saw smoother-looking lips, while 100% indicated that their lips felt fully hydrated. Within 5 weeks, 100% said that their lips were healthier and 89% younger-looking. These are some pretty powerful testimonials, which I can't honestly corroborate since my lips are typically well-nourished and moisturized. But that's not to say my lips haven't benefited from the intelligent ingredients brimming in Hydropeptide's formula.

With the exception of BHT, nearly all of Hydropeptide's ingredients have a very good safety profile. Isononyl isononanoate is a gentle emollient that forms the base of the formula and imparts a silky feeling. Known for its penchant for peptides, Hydropeptide uses a relatively unique one, Tripeptide-29, which has not made an appearance in any other products we've reviewed. According to literature online, this peptide has shown to build and repair collagen, which would fill out thin lips and fill in the cracked skin of damaged lips. The product gets its mild tingle from menthoxypropanediol, a cooling derivative of menthol.

The vitamins and botanical extracts present in the formula deliver different sorts of plumping actions. Lemon fruit extract helps maintain healthy capillary walls, resulting in better blood circulation to the lip area, which is also the effect of lactobacillus/capsicum frutescens fruit ferment extract. Benzyl nicotinate (a vitamin B derivative), otherwise known as niacinamide, naturally dilates the blood vessels in the lips, producing a rosy color and increased volume. Finally, meadowfoam estolide, an edible oil extracted from the seeds of the meadowfoam plant, provides lubrication without a greasy feeling and reduces transepidermal water loss.

Perhaps the formula would benefit from the inclusion of hyaluronic acid or Matrixyl, but alas, you can't have everything. My lips appear to have all they need for now with Hydropeptide's plumper.


Isononyl Isononanoate, Polybutene, Flavor, Isopropyl Palmitate, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Polydecene, Meadowfoam Estolide, Tripeptide-29, Lactobacillus/Capsicum Frutescens Fruit Ferment Extract, Benzyl Nicotinate, Sodium Saccharin, Titanium Dioxide, Caprylyl Glycol, Castor Oil, Polyquaternium-37, Iron Oxides, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, BHT, Red 6 Lake, Red 7 Lake, Trideceth-6, Menthoxypropanediol.