Even if you absolutely Kannot stand the Kardashian-Jenner clan, you have to admit that if they have a talent for anything, it's transformational makeup. Case in point: Kylie Jenner's lips. There's something going on there. The 17-year-old reality star's selfies have been the source of injection speculation for months.
Back in September, Buzzfeed concluded she was definitely just using makeup to improve her pout, only to re-energize the real-or-not cycle a few weeks later. By the end of October Jenner herself was tweeting, "how long are we gonna talk about this lip thing" and big sis Kim Kardashian West was confirming that it really is all makeup tricks.
Kylie's secret: Liner. She doesn't use lipstick or gloss, according to Kim, she just exaggerates her lip line with liner and colors it in. That's it? Hm, interesting move, Jenner. We'll give you that.
Turns out there are a slew of tricks that can have a dramatic effects with low effort. Here are a few expert tricks you you can try to plump things up.
Scrub them soft
To make things pop, you've got to create a smooth surface for color to latch onto, so get rid of any dry, flaky skin by exfoliating. Buy a lip scrub that has exfoliating ingredients, like Sugar Lip Polish ($22, fresh.com) or create your own concoction. Combine a bit of olive oil with some sugar, then gently massage the mixture into your lips with your fingertip, using tiny, circular motions. (In a pinch, you can also smooth a drop of Vaseline over your lips then give them a quick going over with a soft-bristled toothbrush.)
Max out moisture
You can plump up your lips by applying a super-rich, super-hydrating lip balm. Try Burt’s Bee’s Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm ($4, burtsbees.com) It's loaded with kokum, cocoa, and shea butters. Another way to go: Look for a lip treatment that contains hyaluronic acid, a humectant that helps moisture bind to the skin for a fuller look. You’ll find this ingredient in Dermalogica Renewal Lip Complex ($26, dermalogica.com). “Let the balm really sink in for a few minutes, then blot away any excess with a tissue,” says makeup pro Mally Roncal, who’s worked with everyone from Beyoncé to the high priestess of pucker, Angelia Jolie.
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Go above and beyond
And if you really want drama, Kylie Jenner-style: Take a lip liner that matches your natural color (or in a shade slightly deeper), line your mouth, extending the shape just outside your natural lip line. “Rather than accentuating your Cupid’s bow, draw a straight line across, from point to point,” Roncal says. “Then fill in your lips with the same liner.” Tip: For the most natural look possible, work with a creamy, soft-tipped pencil. If the tip is too sharp, just run it over your hand to give it a slightly blunter edge.
“Put a dot of clear, shimmery gloss in the center of your top and bottom lip,” Roncal says. It'll catch the light and create an almost 3-D effect for an illusion of fullness.
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Use a plumping treatment
Yep, these exist and they actually work, too. Some contain cinnamon or mint, like DuWop Lip Venom (duwop.com, $16). These formulas work by (slightly) irritating the skin and bringing blood to the surface of your lips, so they temporarily swell. "Basically, lips appear more rosy and plump—like you've been making out for about 30 minutes," says celeb makeup artist Spencer Barnes, who's worked his magic on everyone from Olivia Wilde to Jessica Chastain. You can make a DIY treatment by mixing a bit of cinnamon or cayenne pepper, straight from your cabinet, with lip balm. (Heads up: Don’t freak if you feel some tingling or stinging—it isn’t dangerous and will subside after a minute or two.)
To finish off the look, says Barnes, brush a pale, shimmery highlighter like Benefit’s Watt’s Up ($30, benefitcosmetics.com) or a golden eye shadow across the top of your lips, just above the Cupid’s bow. It'll add dimension and make your mouth look even more va-va-voom.