After diligently researching the topic I narrowed my experiment down to five natural lip plumpers that had received the extremely legit seal of approval from numerous bloggers: toothpaste, peppermint oil and honey, cinnamon and olive oil, cayenne pepper and olive oil, and wasabi.
The good news was that I was pretty sure that I already had most of these items in my apartment. The bad news was that I had no idea what the heck peppermint oil was.
I rummaged around my apartment that evening until I came up with a spare, half-used tube of Crest Complete (with Scope!), a full honey bear that I’m pretty sure has been hibernating in my pantry since 2012 (honey doesn’t go bad, right?), two dusty containers of cinnamon and cayenne pepper, and an enormous bottle of olive oil from Costco.
I considered the prospect of toting an industrial sized vat of olive oil on the A train and then recommenced my rummaging until I found a teeny tiny Tupperware container. Much better. Now all I had to do was track down some wasabi and the mystical peppermint oil and I was ready get plumped.
I decided to test out the plumpers in order of perceived intensity. Since I already put toothpaste in and around my mouth twice a day every day, it seemed like it was a safe bet for kicking off the experiment on a gentle note. On the other hand, I was dubious about it actually having any kind of noticeable effect because I already put it in and around my mouth twice a day every day. Surely I would have observed its miraculous cosmetic properties by now?
Trial 1: Toothpaste
Skeptical but open to being pleasantly surprised, I squeeze a healthy dollop of paste onto my finger and apply it the way I would put on lipstick—a.k.a. like a kindergartner who hasn’t quite mastered the whole “staying within the lines” things trying to finger paint. The toothpaste actually looks kind of cool, like futuristic blue lip gloss. I pout at myself in the office bathroom mirror for awhile while I wait for…something to happen.
My lips began to tingle (it’s probably the Scope) and I wonder if it’s working. After a minute (the arbitrary length of time I’ve decided it will take whatever is going to happen to happen) elapses I wash it off and study myself in the mirror.
Perhaps they look a little bit plumper? I think I can see a marginal improvement, but it could also be a placebo effect. At the very least, I have a minty fresh mouth. I take some dramatic selfies and almost drop my phone in the sink when a woman comes in and catches me mid-snap. She seems taken aback and I tell myself it must be because my lips are shockingly plump and not because she just witnessed a grown woman taking duck face selfies in an office bathroom.
I decide to take my lips out for a walk and head down the block to pick up a salad for lunch. My lips continue to tingle as I wait in line. They tingle as I order a make-your-own salad with extra avocado, and they tingle as the cashier rings me up. He doesn’t seem all that impressed with my sexy new look, so perhaps it hasn’t worked. When he doesn’t go out of his way to congratulate me on my plump lips, I concede defeat and take my thin old lips back to my desk.
The verdict: Toothpaste is best used to clean teeth.
Trial 2: Peppermint Oil + Honey
I tracked down the peppermint oil at a nearby drug store, where I discovered that peppermint oil can be used as a diffuser, as massage oil, as a bath and shower infusion, an air freshener, for topical use, and for DIY projects. Nowhere on the label does it say that peppermint oil can be used to enhance one’s thin lips, but I decided that my experiment falls under the category of “DIY Projects.”
The peppermint oil and honey mix like oil and water, and it’s hard to apply the homemade serum to my lips. I decide more is better and really slather it on. There is honey everywhere. Everything is sticky. The peppermint oil tries to make a break from the honey and escape down my chin, and I sop it up with a sticky paper towel. I really thought beauty blogging would be more glamorous.
I let the sticky sweet mixture (it tastes and smells delicious, at any rate) sit for a minute and think about what I’ll do once I’ve been transformed into a zaftig-lipped goddess. Perhaps I’ll quit my day job and become an Instagram model
It takes soap and water to get my face clean. I peer at myself in the mirror and think that perhaps I’ll hang on to that day job a little while longer after all. My lips do look a little plumper, but it’s hard to tell if it’s from the peppermint oil or all the vigorous scrubbing required to get the honey off my face.
The verdict: Slightly more effective than the toothpaste, but only slightly.
Trial 3: Cinnamon + Olive Oil
We’re now at the halfway mark of my Extremely Scientific Experiment and I’m no closer to looking like Kylie Jenner. Will cinnamon and oil be the magic combination? I have my sincere doubts but must forge ahead, as extremely scientific scientists do. I mix the two ingredients together in the office kitchen and wonder what my colleagues think I’m cooking. Is it some newfangled cleanse, I imagine them wondering. Nope. I’m trying to plump up over here, not slim down.
Fun fact: Olive oil mixed with a spoonful of cinnamon looks like an avocado. I snap a pic for Instagram before I slop it onto my mouth.
Unlike the honey mixture, this new concoction is not sticky—it’s greasy as hell. There is now olive oil all over my chin. Later I will discover there are also drops of olive oil soaked into the new red shirt I just got at Madewell. This is why I can’t have nice things.
The cinnamon darkens when mixed with the oil and, on my lips, it kind of looks like a really dark brown lipstick—as if I’m the angsty protagonist of a ‘90s romcom. A black and white filter makes me look kind of goth and I amuse myself taking moody selfies while I wait for some kind of transformation to occur.
I wipe my face clean and peer expectantly into the mirror. I am unchanged. Is it possible that my lips are just un-plumpable?
The verdict: Nope.
Trial 4: Cayenne Pepper + Vaseline
The internet, in all its infinite wisdom, suggested I also mix the cayenne pepper with olive oil. However, I decide to improvise and use Vaseline instead, figuring it will stick to my lips more effectively.
I have a fairly low tolerance for spicy foods so I’m feeling nervous about this trial. I tell myself that I don’t have to eat the cayenne pepper, just let it sit on my thin lips for one full minute (or as long as i can tolerate, per the internet).
Oh hell no. Within seconds, my lips are on fire. Dante’s inferno has nothing on this. Is the Vaseline causing the cayenne to become even hotter? I tell myself to be brave and stick it out. I can do this—I once sat through an entire screening of Gigli.
The second my phone alarm goes off signaling the end of the longest minute of my life I race to the sink and stick my head under it. The cayenne has made its way into my mouth and my tongue is now in flames as well. But…I think it has actually worked. My lips are significantly puffier than before. Suck it, Jenner!
The verdict: Pain is beauty?
Trial 5: Wasabi
It’s been a long, weird, slightly painful week, and I’ve saved the hottest trial for last. Go big or go home, amirite?
I’m craving sushi for lunch anyway, so this is a win/win. (A win/win/win if the wasabi actually works as a cosmetic aid.)
After putting away a salmon avocado roll, I take a spoonful of the remaining wasabi to the bathroom and smear it all over my mouth.
Unlike the cayenne, the wasabi is a slow burn. But once it’s starts, I’m in pain. I grit my teeth and remind myself that this is the final trial and that I still have a crunchy tuna roll waiting for me as a reward for my valor.
I make it the full minute and wash the wasabi down the sink. Ah. I appear to be having some sort of allergic reaction. The skin around my lips is red, raw and slightly inflamed. I feel pretty, oh so pretty?
That said, I do think my lips look fuller. Of course, this could be due to the aforementioned allergic reaction, but I guess I’ll take what I can get.
I’m pretty sick of staring at my own lips — the longer you look at them the stranger it seems to have these two skin flaps on your face —and I’m not sure what normal lips are supposed to look like any more, much less full and sexy ones.
The verdict: I think the wasabi works but what are lips anyway? Also, I’m still hungry.
THE FINAL VERDICT: Looking back through all the photos, I conclude that the cayenne pepper mixed with Vaseline had the most dramatic effect. No pain no gain, as they say.
It’s been an interesting experiment, but, in the end, I think I’ll just stick with the thin lips I was born with. And that’s not just lip service.