The “Lip” Effect

Melissa Doft M.D.

As Wall Street’s rocky road continues, I have noticed in my office an increase in women asking for lip fillers. Although much has been written about millennials idealizing Kylie Jenner’s plumper pout and a surge in selfies, could this new trend be based more on our economy?

Referred to as the “lipstick” effect, cosmetic companies have noted that lipstick sales rise during tough economic times. In 2008, the New York Times quoted Leonard Lauder, Chairman of Estee Lauder, stating that sales soared after the 911 attacks. During that same year of global economic recession, L’Oreal saw a 5.3% growth in the cosmetic arena when other global industries plummeted. One could say that the lipstick industry is a countercyclical economic indicator. Further research from psychologist Sarah Hill et al., describe that the “lipstick effect’ is “deeply rooted in women’s mating psychology,” arguing that in “periods of scarcity” women see a decrease in high caliber mates…or at least financially stable husbands. Based on the tenets of the Evolutionary Theory, for women to be reproductively successful, they must be able to secure a partner who is able to invest in resources that will allow for the healthy upbringing of their children. Therefore women have an increased desire to want to feel attractive to the opposite sex and the purchase of luxury lipstick, high-heeled boots, designer jeans and perfumes increase.

The goal of lipstick is to make your lips plumper, fuller, and more defined. Could lip injections be the next era of our mother’s lipstick?

Making lips more luscious

My favorite injectable to use for plumping and defining lips is hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring substance in your body. Although there are several different brands, Restylane, Belotero, and Juvaderm, when used correctly all can give you natural, long lasting results. A bonus to hyaluronic acid is that it is temporary; if you do not like the result, you can erase the fillers by dissolving them with the enzyme hyaluronidase.

The Results

The results are immediate. I usually inject one side of your lips and then let you look at them in the mirror to see the difference. Injections can be limited to only the top lip, the center or throughout depending on your specific needs. Because lips are so vascular, they often swell for a few days. You may want to ice them at home or use homeopathic arnica to decrease initial puffiness.


Over the first few days, the hyaluronic acid droplets will absorb water and feel as through they have seamlessly integrated into your original lips. You should not feel any bumps. They should feel natural, even when kissing.


The injections should last for six to nine months.