I Tried Michelle Phan's Terrifying Trick for Plumper Lips
I am a willing and able beauty guinea pig. My M.O. has always been that I will try anything once. I’ve gotten snail slime needled into my face; I’ve taken a sound bath. The #KylieJennerLipChallenge? Been there, done that, and still have the bruised selfies as proof.
Which brings me to… my lips. Many of the wacky treatments and products I’ve tried have involved plumping up my pout (no injections though, promise), because it’s just my Thing—the aspect of my appearance that I’m not crazy about. My lips aren’t the thinnest in the world, but they’re on the small side—and asymmetrical, which drives me crazy. On most days, some expertly applied lip liner does the trick, but I’ll never say no to the opportunity to give them some more oomph.
So when I read Michelle Phan’s profile on Into The Gloss recently, I took this little tidbit as a precious gem: “For lips,” she said, “I’ve been doing micro-needling with a derma roller that I get from Switzerland … within two days you will notice right away that your lips will look bigger because the collagen will grow back.” She said that she preferred this process over fillers, and BAM: I was sold. Keep scrolling to see if the treatment worked for me!
If you’re not familiar, a derma roller is a slightly terrifying handheld device that contains hundreds of tiny needles on its head. By rolling it across problem areas on your face, the needles create micro-injuries, which then boosts collagen while your skin heals and regenerates. Many cosmetic dermatologists recommend it as an alternative to lasers for a manner of skin conditions ranging from discoloration to fine lines. The snail slime treatment I mentioned above used a derma roller, and my stubborn under-eye bags disappeared for weeks afterwards.
I had never, however, tried the treatment on my lips before—nor at home. Though Phan mentions that she got her derma roller from Switzerland, she says in another post on her own blog that she also orders them off Amazon—so it was off to the virtual superstore for me. For lips, Phan recommends needles no larger than .75mm, since the skin there is so delicate. I went with this one ($13), and chose the .5mm size. Two weeks later, it arrived on my doorstep.
I did some extra research and read in a few places that it’s best to apply a product as a primer before using the derma roller, because then the needles can really push the treatment beneath the surface of the skin. So I dug up my tube of G.M. Collin’s Lip Plumping Complex ($26), a wonderful, tingly gloss that’s great to use on its own if needles make you queasy. After slathering that on, I pulled the derma roller out of its packaging and tried to convince myself that I was a lot braver than I actually felt.
For the most effective treatment, you’re supposed to make the surface area for the needles as flat and hard as possible, so I smiled widely (in spite of myself) and pressed my lips against my teeth. Then, I got to work: I rolled the needles back and forth, in horizontal and vertical patterns, and tried to press down as hard as I could bear. Yes, it was painful. Yes, there was a TINY bit of blood—although miraculously, no tears. (Phan does recommend numbing your lips beforehand, which I decided to stupidly ignore.)
After rolling for a few minutes and deciding I had probably done enough damage, I applied more of the lip-plumping gloss and went on my merry way. After the bruising debacle that was the #KylieJennerLipChallenge, I was fully prepared to hide my face in public if need be. But aside from a little bit of redness and a sensation similar to a mild sunburn, I was totally fine. Now, it was just time for the waiting game; to let the collagen regeneration do its work.
And huzzah! It’s not a mega-pout or anything, but two days later, there’s a difference for sure. My lips are definitely firmer, and slightly bigger—which, if nothing else, provides a much better canvas for liner and lipstick. And given that this was just the first round, I have high hopes for the months ahead.