The Duchess of Windsor once said, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” Yet for every part of our body we want to slim down, there’s another we want to plump up. Fortunately, getting smooth-looking skin, fuller lips and bouncy hair isn’t nearly as punishing as your average slimming regimen, nor does it require a trip to the doctor’s office. From moisturizers to conditioning treatments, now you can pump up the volume with the latest high-performance products.
“Many professional skin-plumping procedures are expensive, carry varying degrees of medical risk and involve some physical discomfort,” says Dr. Lydia Evans, consulting dermatologist for L’Oréal Paris. Dermatologists typically target sagging skin with one of two materials: hyaluronic acid and collagen fibre. Now, there are new delivery systems that allow both to be administered topically in the comfort of your own home.
As an alternative to collagen injections, L’Oréal Paris recently introduced its Collagen Remodeler Contouring Moisturizer. It contains alfalfa extract, which stimulates new collagen production, and collagen biospheres (microscopic particles of dehydrated collagen composites), which penetrate the epidermis. “When they go from a dehydrated state to a hydrated state, collagen biospheres can reach a volume that is nine times greater than their initial volume through water absorption, which leads to a plumping effect,” says Evans. Clinique’s Zero Gravity Repairwear Lift targets collagen production with an extract of Centella asiatica (or gotu kola), an aquatic plant often used in Ayurvedic medicine, whereas Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream SPF 15 contains retinol, a vitamin A derivative proven to boost collagen production.
Several products address skin plumping with topical hyaluronic acid. The newest offering from SkinCeuticals is a hydrating mask that delivers both hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5. “It contains vitamin B5 in two configurations: panthenol and calcium pantothenate,” says Sonja Anderson, director of new-product development. “These two ingredients help improve the continuous regeneration of the skin, play a role in tissue repair and
attract water to the outer layer of the skin.” Hydration Fix, from Dermaglow’s Nuvage line, contains hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin retain moisture, and pomegranate extract, which uses its antioxidant power to strengthen and protect skin cells, according to company president and research pharmacist Calvin Davies.
One of the newest plumping ingredients can be found in Ceramide Plump Perfect, a skin-care and cosmetics line from Elizabeth Arden. Besides polymers and ceramides that lock in moisture, the products contain Argireline, an amino-acid-based substance. “It works to plump lines so that skin has a smoother look,” says Tony Vargas, vice-president of global research and development for Elizabeth Arden. It also has a relaxing effect on facial muscles, which minimizes frown lines and wrinkles.
Despite manufacturers’ claims, most dermatologists still tout injectable fillers as the “the first line of defence,” says Dr. Sheetal Sapra, a dermatologist in Oakville, Ont. “A dermatologist can create the look you want with filler, and then you can help maintain it [between treatments] with topical products.”
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Despite some hi-viz cautionary tales (Nicole Kidman, anyone?), full lips remain popular. For the needle-phobe, a new ingredient called Hilurlip is showing promising results. Designed as a commercial additive for lipgloss and lip balm products, Hilurlip contains hyaluronic acid, which attracts and binds moisture, thereby filling in lines and increasing volume. Hilurlip is expected to be available in Canada later this year, and preliminary tests by Lipotec-the Spanish company that created it-found that it increased lip fullness by almost 20 percent.
There are many over-the-counter lip-plumping products that contain hyaluronic acid or collagen-boosting ingredients. While they won’t give the same results as injectables, “topically applied products are a great strategy for keeping lips looking smooth and hydrated,” says Anderson. DuWop, the California-based company that first started the pout-enhancing craze in 1999 with the cult favourite Lip Venom, also counts the newer Prime Venom among its plumping stable. It contains the same wintergreen and cinnamon formula (which irritates the lips, causing a temporary plumping reaction) but has a matte finish.
Thanks to the current emphasis on bodacious locks, there’s a run on volume-boosting hair products. “We’re taking skin-care technology to hair care,” says Miami-based hairstylist Samy, whose Fat Hair line uses wheat and soy proteins, which help to increase the diameter of each strand of hair. “We’re treating fine hair as a dermatologist would treat a wrinkle.” Closer to home, Toronto-based celebrity hairstylist Marc Anthony has an Instantly Thick line that includes Phytokeratin, a protein that mimics natural keratin, the building block of hair and nails. “It acts as a secondary protective layer on hair strands,” says Anthony. “Keratin strengthens the bonds within hair strands, so by adding more [in the form of Phytokeratin], you’re thickening the hair.”
New York-based hairstylist Frédéric Fekkai weighs in with All-Day Hair Plump, which combines botanical extracts with hyaluronic acid. “I believe that women should take care of their hair like they take care of their skin,” he says. “All-Day Hair Plump contains humectants derived from hyaluronic acid that plump up the [hair] cuticle and help it retain moisture. If the hair is really damaged and porous, the humectants will also fill in the damaged sections for stronger, healthier hair. They also form a protective coating on the hair and continuously hydrate the cuticles to keep them plump.”
So, what’s the future of plumping? While the injectables craze isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, neither is the demand for non-invasive alternatives-which means that there will be more and more alternatives to get the volume you want, whether it’s for skin, lips or hair. Rest assured: Bigger is definitely better.