Those who've been round the beauty block a few times will find nothing unusual about a plumping lipgloss, but one that makes you feel as if you've been sucker-punched with a ghost pepper chilli certainly piqued my curiosity.
Part of the problem with plumping glosses is they don't really work, well, not as a viable alternative to fillers. They tend to tingle, rather than actually increase volume. Yes, my 15-year-old self loved applying a coat of the minty Collection 2000 offering and pouting my way round the unders, but the gimmick was much more the sensation than actual tangible results. Fast forward to 2014 and with one slick of Lip Voltage I was giving Pete Burns lip envy.
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Lip Voltage first came on my radar last year but it's been near impossible to get the gloss since. Dreamweave, the company behind Lip Voltage, would consistently sell out its entire shipment (upwards of eighteen thousand units) within a matter of days and then I'd have to wait for a few months for the next delivery. No mean feat for a small independent cosmetics company with only a few products under its brand. When I finally opened the package and peeked at the Lip Voltage box I felt like Charlie when he realised his chocolate bar had that magical glimmer of gold in it.
The Lip Voltage gloss comes with a syringe of a MixUp The Voltage solution. Before application you add the MixUp to the gloss tube, with 0.1ml for a warm tingle, 0.2ml for warm to hot, and 0.3ml for a 'very hot tingle'. With the niggling voice in the back of my head hissing that plumping glosses don't work, I instantly decided that the 0.3ml would provide the best results and also sort the men from the boys. The science is that Lip Voltage contains a quick absorbing peptide and a VBE (Vanillyl Butyl Ether) which increases the blood flow, causing temporary swelling.
The first time I used Lip Voltage was when I plucked it from my bag at a party in the wee small hours. Not exactly clinical conditions but I did manage to get two test subjects, including my friend's boyfriend. We applied the gloss and instantly deduced it was absolutely fine. Within 15 minutes it was chaos. My friend paced the room, enquiring if it would ever end, while the 'man of the house' reclined on an armchair clutching his face. I must be a. braver than everyone else, b. used to doing weird beauty-related things or c. more inebriated than I'd care to admit, but I found it uncomfortable, without being unbearable. It's a slow burn, after five minutes you'll think 'is this it? This is absolutely fine'. Within ten minutes you hit the 'actually this is burning quite a bit, I feel like I've just eaten a really, really hot curry'. The quarter hour mark is when you feel like you've made lipgloss out of something on Man vs. Food.
Lip Voltage is symptomatic of the Instagram generation. You wouldn't wear it on a night out, for fear your contorted face (as you frantically try to blow your lips) would scare off potential suitors and provide endless amusement for your friends - but I did snap several engaging selfies as I tried to document the end result. The day we all decided to sit in and take super-flattering pictures of ourselves, filtering away any imperfections and learning complimentary angles (like that head tilt that disguises a double chin but downplays under-eye bags) opened the door for products like this, the quickest of the quick fixes. I'll admit, the end results were pretty impressive. I used quite a liberal amount and I definitely looked like I'd had something done - without it being in the obviously different way that so many celebrities insult our intelligence with (Kylie Jenner, I'm looking at you).
My friends, who I suspect didn't apply as much, had the same colour change and swelling associated with the rush of blood, but didn't have as much clout in their pout. Admittedly, if I'd only applied the smaller amount of MixUp The Voltage it might have gone down better with my test subjects, who now regard me as some sort of beauty sadist. I'd happily recommend Lip Voltage for before having your passport photo taken or playing dares.
Don't go for a post-Tinder date coffee and apply it, mind you.
Lip Voltage is available from a selection of local salons as well as several online outlets, including www.dollywoodboutique.co.uk.