One of the modern standards of beauty is full, pouting, richly coloured lips. Conversely, thin lips have traditionally—and unfairly!—been associated with cruel or miserly characters, like something from a Dickens novel. Accordingly, there are many products and services designed to give you luscious lips, but what would work for you? Read on to find out more.
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Suggested Products for Treating Thin Lips
Which skincare products might you try, to see real results? Here is a selection of the ones I really rate - because they do a great job, and are a pleasure to use.
Albus & Flora is all about making everyday lip care beautiful. These are no mere lip balms – they’re more like cosmeceuticals for…Read More
This lovely lip balm is more like a gel than a balm. When you put it on it just melts in and leaves your lips feeling really soft – and…Read More
FAQ ABOUT Thin Lips
What causes lips to get thinner?
Lips seem to lose their stuffing as we get older, becoming thinner and drier with age, and it’s for all the same reasons as with other parts of the face. The collagen that plumps lips up gets gradually broken down because the delicate skin on the lips suffers the same gradual daily aggressions of daylight. On top of that, drying wind and being licked too much wears away at the skin barrier, which makes lips feel dry and less able to retain the remaining moisture within them.
Can I use lip fillers to help thin lips?
Yes – if you’ve got thin lips, you can most likely use fillers to help make them larger. Lip fillers are the only long-term solution for plumping up thin lips, and they work for most people.
How much lip filler it will take to make a difference depends on your lips. Are they a good size but just a bit flatter with age? Then a bit of volumising might be in order. Do they need defining rather than enlarging? In that case, a bit of filler in the border of the lip could do the trick.
If your mouth is small, or your lips are thin, be cautious. There is only so much filler that your lips can take before they will look distorted. Your lips need to stay in proportion to the rest of your face, otherwise they will look bizarre. Discuss your goals with your practitioner and ask the practitioner to show you photos of similar work they have performed on other clients. How do you find a practitioner who will get your lips just right? Take a look on my practitioner finder.
What kind of fillers should I get for my lips?
For any questions you may have about lip fillers, just head over to my dedicated lip fillers page where you’ll even find a downloadable lip filler factsheet to save and read later. There’s a wealth of information over there that will help.
What alternatives are there for thin lips other than fillers?
First, make sure you practise good skincare on your lips as well as on the rest of your skin. Cleansing, using sunscreen, and staying hydrated score low on the excitement scale but will help you keep your lips in good condition.
If you’re looking for a more immediate solution, but don’t want to have fillers injected into your lips, there are other products and treatments that provide short-term solutions. You could try:
A stimulating lip gloss
These contain ingredients such as menthol which irritate the delicate skin of the lips, and that irritation causes the lips to swell and redden. I dislike these products as I find it hard to think about anything else when my lips are stinging, but I know many people love them. The effects don’t last long, so you need to keep reapplying.
A home-use lip-plumping gel or lip rejuvenator
You can get lip-plumping gels containing hyaluronic acid. You simply apply the gel to your lips and allow it to sink in. The hyaluronic acid molecules pass through the thin tissue of your lips and, once inside, plump them up, holding onto moisture and making your lips swell a little. These gels are noninvasive and easy to use, but they typically require you to apply them multiple times a day for several weeks to get appreciable effects.
An in-clinic non-invasive lip-plumping treatment
Along similar lines to the home-use lip-plumping gels are in-clinic non-invasive treatments to plump up lips. One example is the Perk device. Such treatments exfoliate your lips and soak them in a solution of lip-plumping ingredients. After the treatment, you continue applying the solution twice or more a day. These treatments can give your lips a definite boost, but the lips deflate to their normal proportions over the next couple of days, making this a short-term fix – for example, to make your lips bigger for a special event.
How can I make my lips look bigger?
The suggestions above actually change the size of your lips, but you can use make-up to make your lips look bigger without actually doing anything to change their size. This is a great place to start because the cost is minimal—and you can even combine visual effects with moves that actually do make your lips bigger.
Here are four suggestions:
- Outline around your lips and then fill in the area.
- Try different shades. For example, using a colour a shade or two darker than your natural lip colour may give greater impact.
- Add clear gloss to make your lips reflect more light. Try a small amount of gloss on the middle of your lips rather than painting over your entire lip area.
- Make your upper lip look deeper by applying a little highlighter to your Cupid’s bow, the dip above the lip.
What natural remedies are there for thin lips?
If you’re looking for something you can do without buying any specialist products or forking out on treatment, then the best thing you can do is to exfoliate your lips, either using a damp cloth or a homemade scrub of sugar and honey. Exfoliation should increase circulation in your lips and make them a little fuller. Also, having a fresh, smooth surface makes your lips reflect more light, which gives them greater presence.
You can also run an ice cube over your lips, just make sure it’s not too far below freezing. If it’s sticking to your fingers when you hold it, then it’s too cold and can stick to your delicate lips and cause damage. However, once the outside of the ice cube is all slippery, you can run it over your lips to provoke a flushing response—a bit like the rosy cheeks you get in a cold wind.
A slightly less conventional, but perhaps more enjoyable solution is to kiss somebody. Kissing stimulates and enlarges your lips, giving them a quick-and-easy temporary boost. Repeat the treatment as needed!
Why is my top lip disappearing?
If you find your top lip is disappearing, there are probably several culprits, some of which are more obvious than others.
First, your lips simply get thinner as you age. The collagen that keeps your lips plump gets broken down by time and exposure to environmental factors, reducing the volume of the lips. When your lips get dry, they are less able to retain the naturally occurring hyaluronic acid that keeps them hydrated. This makes your lips smaller, too.
Second, in most people, the top lip is thinner than the bottom lip, so you notice the difference on the top lip first. Chances are that your bottom lip is getting thinner too, but the change isn’t as obvious—at least, not yet.
Third, your teeth also get smaller as you age—they don’t shrink, by the way, it’s just erosion from everyday use. A consequence of this is that your teeth gradually push your lips out less and less, which has the effect of making your lips look smaller. Keeping your teeth in good shape can slow down this gradual attrition. Getting veneers that increase the volume of your teeth (some veneers do this; others don’t) can also give your lips a bit more support.
How do I fix a thin upper lip?
You can fix a thin upper lip either visually, using make-up, or physically. You may also want to combine both approaches for greater effect.
The main way to fix a thin upper lip physically is by having fillers injected to plump it up. You can also try non-invasive means of plumping up lips, such as soaking them in plumping solutions or running an ice cube over them.
If your upper lip is looking thin, but your lower lip still looks okay, you may be tempted to have just your upper lip plumped up. Lots of people seem to think this is exactly what they need, but once your top lip becomes the same size as your lower lip, it will make your mouth look unbalanced. It’s much better to have both lips plumped up, keeping them balanced, so that the proportions of the upper lip to the lower lip are 1:1.6. (This ratio, 1:1.6, is called the golden ratio or divine proportion and tends to look pleasing to the eye.)
As ever, find a good practitioner and discuss what is realistic for you. And in case you haven’t read my lip fillers factsheet, you only want a temporary filler, one based on hyaluronic acid, in your lips.
Why are my lips losing colour?
It’s an age thing. As we get older, our colouring tends to fade. The pigment fades from our hair and eyebrows, and the natural colouring in our lips becomes less pronounced.
But if you find your lips—and perhaps your face—going a really ashen colour, consult a medical professional. The most likely cause of such pallor is anaemia, followed by heart disease or lung disease.
Alice answers your question. Want to ask Alice a question? Pop it in here and check back in a few days for the answer.
How many millilitres of lip filler should you get?
I’d leave it to your practitioner’s artistic judgement. There’s a popular saying in aesthetic medicine, that why you go to see a great practitioner is because you are paying for ‘the skill, not the ml’. ie you want them to use their artistic eye to judge what is appropriate for you, bearing in mind the size of your lips, and what the rest of your face looks like, rather than just using up what they have in the syringe, regardless.
Is bruising normal for lip filler?
Yes, there is always a risk of bruising with any needle-based procedure, however good your practitioner is. If the needle nicks a tiny blood vessel... it's just bad luck.
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