Our Plastic Surgeon Explains The Dangerous Social Media Challenge That Could Ruin Your Lips

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

A popular social media trend for plumper-looking lips has resurfaced in an unwelcome blast from the past. The Kylie Jenner lip challenge took the internet by storm in 2015 when many people, including countless young teens, began using shot glasses or bottles to suction their lips in an attempt to mimic the "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" star's signature pout. Streamer Darren Watkins Jr., who goes by the handle @iShowSpeed, resurfaced the trend in a recorded live stream uploaded to YouTube in 2022, with his attempt at the lip challenge ending with less-than-pleasing results and a horrified reaction. Since then, TikTok videos of the challenge regularly receive millions of views, so it's safe to say the trend is officially back.


To better understand the dangers of this seemingly harmless social media challenge, Glam spoke exclusively to Dr. Allen Foulad, the founder of Allen Foulad MD Inc. and a double board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in plastic and reconstructive surgery. According to Dr. Foulad, individuals who partake in the Kylie Jenner lip challenge are at risk of damaging the skin due to bruising, swelling, and even ruptured blood vessels. (Yikes, that doesn't sound great to us.) Here's what else Dr. Foulad had to say about the dangers of the DIY lip-plumping challenge, as well as safer approaches for achieving plumper lips.

Is the Kylie Jenner lip challenge safe?

The purpose of the Kylie Jenner lip challenge is simply to enlarge the appearance of the lips, according to Dr. Allen Foulad, meaning any supposed benefits are only aesthetic. "This involves placing their lips within the rim of a shot glass or cup and creating a vacuum by sucking the air out, which results in temporary lip swelling," Dr. Foulad shared exclusively with Glam. However, a key issue is that challenge participants sustain the vacuum seal for anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute — or longer. Generally, the longer one sits with the shot glass to their lips, the greater the swelling, as demonstrated in @iShowSpeed's video, in which he prolongs the challenge for 15 minutes.


"The suction-induced trauma can result in severe lip swelling and a distorted appearance," Dr. Foulad told us. "Moreover, it can lead to the rupture of blood vessels, resulting in substantial bruising." Ruptured blood vessels occur when blood rushes to the surface of the skin (via Healthline). What's more, "any type of trauma or irritation to the skin" can result in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) — with a higher risk for darker skin tones — according to WebMD. Thankfully, WebMD notes that PIH "doesn't cause any serious physical health problems on its own," but getting it from the lip challenge still isn't ideal.

"Even worse, there is the potential risk of glass breakage due to the intense suction, which could lead to cuts on the lips," Dr. Foulad added. While lip cupping devices such as CandyLipz appear to be a safer option than glass cups or plastic bottles, there's still a risk of bruising due to the vacuum effect.


Is there a safer way to plump your lips?

While the challenge appears to be a harmless attempt to emulate Kylie Jenner's pronounced lips, Dr. Allen Foulad emphasizes a safer route to achieve a plumper pout without the risk of disfigurement, ruptured blood vessels, or severe bruising. "For a safer approach to achieving temporary lip enhancement, one can consider using lip plumpers. These topical products stimulate blood flow to the lips, typically resulting in subtle swelling and an increased reddish tint," Dr. Foulad exclusively revealed to Glam. Popular lip-plumping products such as the Too Faced Extreme Hydrating Lip Plumper are readily available both online and in beauty supply stores like Ulta and Sephora, so you can achieve plumper lips any time and with less risk to your lip health.


However, if you prefer a longer-lasting option, Dr. Foulad recommends reaching out to a medical professional to discuss getting lip filler injections, such as hyaluronic acid fillers. "An expert can meticulously administer the appropriate amount and type of filler to enhance your lips while preserving a natural appearance," he explained. What's more, hyaluronic acid fillers can be dissolved, so if you ever tire of your plumper pout, just reach back out to the expert who originally provided your injections (via Healthline).

Non-invasive alternatives for plumper lips

Thankfully, less permanent options for plumper lips exist, too. If injections make you squeamish, you can also experiment with makeup hacks that give the appearance of fuller lips, such as overlining and making use of lip color to conceal the natural borders of your lips. Another alternative includes gentle exfoliation using common household ingredients, such as cayenne pepper and cinnamon, as they naturally — and temporarily — increase blood flow to the lips, which can create the illusion of larger lips (via Healthline). For those with sensitive skin, opt for gentler ingredients like sugar or raw honey to avoid any irritation. After all, the point of not doing the Kylie Jenner lip challenge or injections is to remain as comfortable as possible. 


Ultimately, with the risk of bruising, swelling, and damaged blood vessels, it's safe to say that the model-influencer's lip challenge is one social media trend that should remain in the past, especially when safer and more temporary alternatives exist.