Everything You Need to Know about Pumping and Plumping

Inspired by the popularity of dermal fillers that plump and firm the skin, and the meteoric rise of contouring makeup that magically sculpts facial features with the swipe of a brush, comes the next wave of topical skin creams and filling products that diminish the appearance of wrinkles—with no doctor’s visit required. While dermatologist treatments such as Botox and fillers are on the rise (up three and six percent, respectively, in the United States, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons), those not ready or willing to go under the needle can opt for the next best thing—creams and serums that offer comparable results.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is having something of a skincare momentas a key ingredient in the new guard of contouring skincare products. Commonly used as an injectable filler, it’s also naturally found in the body and known to hold 1,000 times its weight in water. “Skin density is largely due to the hyaluronic acid we naturally have in our skin,” says Maxine Ryan, senior training manager with skincare brand Avène. “As we age, we produce less HA, so our skin loses its plumpness and wrinkles become deeper.”

While earlier iterations of the ingredient were too large to penetratethe skin’s surface, today’s cosmetics companies have founda way to deliver HA molecules in different sizes to plump, moisturize, and penetrate the skin’s deeper layers. Avène’s Physiolift range features hyaluronic acid mono-oligomers to help stimulate the production of our own HA, “restoring density from the inside out.” Meanwhile, brown algae extracts help boost collagen reserves to reduce wrinkles over time and the retinoidretinaldehyde kick-starts cell renewal. The star product in the line, the Physiolift Precision Wrinkle Filler, which looks like it could have been plucked out of a dermatologist’s arsenal, features an expanding foam largely comprised of the highly concentrated HA to smooth lip and forehead lines, furrows, and crow’s feet.

Estée Lauder furthers its mission to define and contour the face with additions to its New Dimension skincare range, Firm + Fill Eye System and Plump + Fill Expert Lip Treatment. Both use a pro-collagen complex to immediately tone and firm the skin, adding definition back to these two delicate areas. Light diffusers help camouflage fine lines and imperfections, while added moisturizers help restore the moisture barrier, providing an instant plumping effect. The Tighten + Tone Neck/Chest Treatment, which includes a cream and dedicated massage tool, uses a proprietary shaping technology to help stimulate skin’s natural lipids and hyaluronic acidreserves for a firmer and fuller look.

Taking a page from injectables such as Botox is Rodial’s Snake range, which features a peptide called Syn-ake that mimics the muscle freezing properties of snake venom in order to reduce muscle contractions (hence minimizing the formation of wrinkles). Launched in 2010, the line has achieved cult status, and the second generation of its serum, Snake Serum O2, pairs the peptide with an oxygen carrier to instantly plump the skin. “By delivering oxygen, the product encourages cell respiration and increases volume in the epidermis, the skin’s outer layer,” says Maria Hatzistefanis, founder of Rodial. While these plumping effects are taking place, the firming molecule Proturon helps densify and moisturize skin, both immediately and over time. Rodial’s Chin& Neck Lift helps sculpt and firm the neck, sans scalpel. This contouring gel treatment (which also includes Proturon and Syn-ake) packs amino acids and the active ingredient Ovaliss, which targets the skin’s fat stores. “Ovaliss acts on the metabolism of cells that store fat, which prevents them from developing more fat tissue,” and helps firm the neck area over the long term, says Hatzistefanis.

So whether you get your skin fix from a needle, a serum, or a cream, it’s nice to know that you can skip a trip to the derm every once in awhile, and still stave off the clock.


Radial Chin & Neck Lift; Demarché Labs Roloxin Lift Instant Wrinkle Smoothing Mask; Vichy Liftactiv Serum 10.