By Sarah Kinonen. Photos: Courtesy of Instagram.
Call it the Kylie effect, or blame it on the Housewives, but either way you plump it, full lips are having a major moment. From wasabi lip plumper hacks to volumizing lip glosses, it seems like everyone these days is on the hunt for bigger, bolder pouts. So much so, in fact, that industrious (and daring) beauty experimenters are taking the fate of their lip volume into their own hands with DIYs made from out-of-the-ordinary—or, very ordinary, depending on how you look at it—ingredients. Case in point: The latest viral beauty hack, a wasabi lip-plumping paste, which promises to pouf up your pout with a few glops of the sushi zinger rubbed onto dry lips.
Over the weekend, beauty vlogger Farah Dhukai shared a video tutorial of her applying wasabi to her lips to inflate them on the spot, and since then, the clip has racked up more than five million views. "As you may have noticed, I have very wrinkly lips and its cold AF in Toronto, so now they’re super dry too. Wrinkly + dry = worst combination ever,” she captions her Instagram post. "Sooo.. this one trick is a great way to get plump lips that look like you’ve had fillers—they'll be extremely soft, wrinkles will be filled in, they’ll have a natural pink color, and they’ll be so plump [people] will think you’ve had them done."
Sure, the DIY trick sounds appealing (who doesn’t want soft, smooth, and plump lips without a scary injection?), but, according to cosmetic chemist Ginger King, wearing wasabi on your mouth won’t necessary lead to the plumped-up pucker of your dreams. "Wasabi doesn't work the same way as the regular spicy foods we're used to,” says King. If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, the spice in wasabi comes from thioglycosides which react with the enzyme myrosinase when the cell walls of the plant are ruptured—that's why the root needs to be grated, and isn't served sliced or diced. Once that reaction happens, a volatile chemical compound called allyl isothiocyanate forms. That chemical stimulates the nasal passage and muscus membranes more than the tongue—which is why sushi is a great choice if you've got a nasty stuffy nose.
That nasal sort of hotness is different than the spice created by chili peppers, which makes use of capsaicin, an irritant known to produce a burning sensation with any tissue it comes in contact with—lips, nose, eyes, and of course, the tongue. That irritation can cause tissue to swell—if you can stand the sensation, that is. Cinnamaldehyde, the active compound in cinnamon, is another skin irritant that can work in a similar way, like in the Bite Beauty Cinnamon Plumping Lip Oil.
But, we're not writing off the wasabi lip plumper hack just yet. Dendy Engelman, a New York City dermatologist, says while the condiment doesn't add volume to lips, it offers users a slew of notable good-for-you benefits, but only if it's used in its natural form.
"In addition to providing a bit of flavor and zing to sushi, natural wasabi also has other benefits," says Engelman. "It's antimicrobial and packed with phytochemicals, vitamin C, potassium, and calcium, all of which stimulate circulation." The idea is that that rush of blood would speed the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to your lips, which, in theory, could make them look smoother and more nourished. But not necessarily fuller.
Bottom line: Proceed with caution, especially if you have sensitive skin or suffer from wasabi-based allergies, she warns. "Wasabi in a tube is not 100 percent natural and fresh wasabi—there are preservatives, says Engelman. "Additionally, if your lips are not healthy to begin with and you have open cuts and wounds, this method will only make it worst."
Whether or not you're down to spice up your smile, remember this: If you're truly ready to take the leap to size up your lips, be safe about it and use a product specifically formulated to volumize, like one of these top plumping glosses. Your spicy tuna roll will thank you.
Watch the full video below:
This story originally appeared on Allure.
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