Plump, soothe and thicken

February 1, 2008

The skinny on lip cosmetics, milk as a sunburn remedy and eyelash enhancers.

Key Points

Q What is the mechanism of action of lip-plumping cosmetics?

A Lip-plumping cosmetics have become the rage, as fashion models sport overly full lips, either from natural fullness or the injection of hyaluronic acid fillers. Many of the lip-plumping cosmetics contain hyaluronic acid filling spheres. They are round hyaluronic acid particles that soak up water when placed on the lip. The spheres expand, filling crevices in the lip and increasing lip hydration. The spheres are usually placed in a thick, shiny lip gloss to prevent transepidermal water loss and increase lip shine. The combination of hydrated lips and a shiny, reflective surface create the temporary illusion of lip fullness.

Q How does skim milk work to alleviate the pain of a deep first-degree or superficial second-degree sunburn?

Q How do the new eyelash-thickening mascaras work?

A The new eyelash-thickening mascaras are excellent for patients with thinning, gray or absent eyelashes. The best products have substituted the tufted mascara brush with a fine, short-toothed comb for separating and placing the eyelashes evenly along the tarsal border.

The mascara may come in one or two tubes. The two-tube varieties have a polymer in one tube that is used to coat, curl and position the eyelashes. The polymer coats each eyelash with a hairspray-like chemical to physically thicken the hair. As the polymer dries, it contracts, causing the short, thin eyelash hair to curl. Curled eyelashes appear longer to the viewer.

Finally, the comb can be used to place eyelashes evenly or to move surrounding eyelash hairs toward an area of missing hairs. The polymer from the first tube is allowed to dry, and the second tube is applied with the black or brown color to darken and further thicken the lashes. Some lash-thickening mascaras combine both ingredients in one tube.

Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D.,is a clinical associate professor of dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C., and primary investigator, Dermatology Consulting Services, High Point, N.C.

Questions may be submitted via e-mail to zdraelos@northstate.net
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