Like eyebrows, the trend in lips right now is big. Everywhere you turn—but mostly on Instagram—big lips are dominating. There has been much debate about why this is happening and whether it’s all Kylie Jenner’s fault, but the facts are the facts: The trendy look is bigger lips.
Not everyone was born with an Angelina Jolie pout, but you can approximate one—without looking bizarre. Here’s how.
How to use makeup to overdraw your lips
The first trick is one Jenner herself swore she was employing before admitting to the world the obvious fact that she’d gotten lip fillers. You can use makeup to fake bigger lips, but you’ll have varying degrees of success. Knowing how to do this correctly is key. What you need, babe, is lip liner.
Gilda Wabbit, a professional drag queen in Louisville, Kentucky, told us how it’s done: “Take a lip liner in your favorite color and draw the shape of your lips slightly larger than your natural lips. Then fill in that shape with the lip liner and apply your favorite lipstick on top. Smack your lips together a few times and go! Not only can you make your lips look larger this way, but you can change the shape of your lips as well. If you want a more defined Cupid’s bow or seek more symmetry in the curve of your bottom lip, overdrawing your lips like this can provide that as well. Two birds, one lip pencil.”
Try to stick with a neutral tone if possible and make sure the tip of the pencil is sharp. Be more heavy-handed in the corners of your lips, too, to create a dimensional, contoured effect.
Plump your lips with these products
You might recall from your youth certain “lip-plumping” glosses that did little more than sting like hell. Good news! These days, lip-plumping products not only hurt, but they work, too. Well, some of them do.
The two big winners in the gloss category are made by Buxom and Too Faced. The Too Faced Lip Injection line has been around for years and gets consistently high reviews for all of its various forms, which range from color tints to “extreme” formulations. Buxom also has a plumping gloss with extremely good reviews. It’s a staple of any makeup bag owned by a small-lipped person who wants to be a bigger-lipped person. Insider tip: Buxom usually has small, travel-sized versions of its plumping gloss available near the checkout counter at Sephora, so you can try a cheaper option before diving all the way in.
Buxom also offers a lesser-known but effective plumping liner. Don’t ask how it works, but know that it does. Buy a shade close to your own lip color to overline your lips and thank us later.
There are also masks and creams that purport to plump lips, but the reviews on those are much more mixed, which you can see for yourself here. They might soften, renew, or otherwise pamper your lips, but the plumping is debatable.
Finally, we have the most special product at all: Water! Always stay hydrated as, like, a general rule, but also if you want nice plump lips and skin.
What to know about lip fillers
The old “fake it ‘til you make it” approach is cool and all, but so, too, is the “one and done” method. There are downsides to sticking with complicated lip liner routines and trying out ever-changing gloss formulas. They’re time-consuming and require constant reapplication. If you’re serious about making your lips look bigger, you can just make them bigger. Don’t feel bad; lots of us do it.
We went back to Dr. Schwartzburg, the injector at Manhattan’s Skinly Aesthetics who told us about botox a few weeks ago, to get the skinny on big, fat lips. He told Lifehacker that how you’re injected, what you’re injected with, and how your lips ultimately look are all dependent on what you’re going for and what qualities your lips already possess. Knowing exactly what you want and how to ask for it is a crucial part of not getting what you don’t want, which is an overdone, obviously-injected appearance.
“There are a variety of brands that can be used in the lips, and I use them all,” Schwartzburg said. “I never employ a cookie-cutter approach and decide on which filler to use based on multiple factors, including the goal that the patient is trying to achieve, the anatomy of the lips and the intrinsic qualities of fillers.”
He gave tips on what technique to ask for in order to get the most natural-looking result, too: The “Russian” technique.
“There have been multiple techniques described and previously utilized, including a fanning technique, microdroplet technique, retrograde and anterograde techniques, injection along the superior and inferior vermilion borders and cupid’s bow, serial puncture and linear threading. All of the above mentioned techniques have a range of drawbacks and deficiencies that can be summarized as unnaturally-looking,” he said, noting that they can result in swollen-looking “duck lips” or a “top shelf,” which happens when the vermillion border—or very top of the top lip—is obliterated and sticks out, sometimes far enough to cast a little shadow.
The Russian technique, he said, “relies on injecting the filler in retrograde fashion in the superficial dermal/subdermal plane, which tents and stretches the lips in the cranio-caudal (inferior to superior) direction. It does this by creating linear struts of filler in the superficial lip plane that doesn’t allow the lip to collapse and creates an upward lift instead of an outward protrusion, characteristic of classic (and antiquated at this point) injection techniques.”
To sum that up for the average person, it means the injector won’t touch your vermillion border—thus, you will not get a “top shelf” lip. Before you head to an injector, call ahead and confirm that they know how to do this technique. Schwartzburg pointed out that it’s “challenging” and requires some mastery. It’s best not to let someone practice on your face, especially since you’re paying them a few hundred dollars to inject your lips with filler that takes months to dissolve. But yes—lip fillers are only temporary.
If you’re not scared of needles but are nervous about filler, you can try a botox “lip flip,” which affects the muscle above your mouth and gradually turns your top lip outward.
“Lip flips can be hit or miss. I think they are a great option for someone who is trying to explore lip augmentation but is on the fence about lip filler. It is critical to keep in mind that a lip flip can’t create volume, as it can only create an appearance of a taller and more upward-bound upper lip,” Schwartzburg said, noting that many patients opt for a lip flip and a half-portion of filler.
No matter what you do, you’re beautiful as you are. But it’s fun to play with your appearance, so never feel bad about doing it, if you want to.