Is the Inkey List’s Tripeptide Lip Balm Worth the TikTok Hype? I Tried It

Is the Inkey List’s Tripeptide Lip Balm Worth the TikTok Hype? I Tried It


The Inkey List Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm

Close-up of hand holding The Inkey List Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm tube

Derek Deng

What We Like

  • Comfortable, nourishing texture

  • Non-irritating, non-sticky formula

  • Boosts definition and fullness over time

What We Don’t Like

  • Has a plastic-y fragrance

  • Plumping result is subtle and not immediate

  • Requires frequent application

The Inkey List’s Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm takes a few weeks to work its magic—but if you have the patience, it might become your new favorite. The nourishing formula doesn’t irritate or dry out lips, and it builds a subtle, lasting plumping effect over time.

View On Sephora $13 View On 4.2

The Inkey List Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm

Close-up of hand holding The Inkey List Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm tube

Derek Deng

View On Sephora $13 View On In This Article Expand

  • About My Lips
  • The Feel
  • The Scent
  • The Ingredients
  • The Results
  • The Value
  • Similar Products
  • Final Verdict
  • Specs

We put The Inkey List's Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

The quest for fuller lips has been a wild ride. In 2015, I distinctly recall trying out the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge and inserting my lips into a shot glass to emulate Jenner’s pillowy lips (spoiler alert: It didn’t end well). These days, countless brands have released their own, less dangerous takes on filler-free lip plumping, from sticky plumping glosses to electronic lip plumping devices. The vast majority of these solutions, however, only offer short-lived fullness, so when I saw The Inkey List’s Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm all over TikTok, I knew I had to test it out. In a four-week independent clinical study of 20 people, The Inkey List found that the product helped to plump lips by up to 20% and smooth fine lines in the span of two weeks. So is this viral lip balm the nourishing, plumping hero it claims to be? Read on for my full, unfiltered review.

The Inkey List Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm

Best for: Most skin types, especially those who are looking to boost plumpness and hydration of their lips.

Uses: A lip balm that offers a gradual plumping effect that builds over time and a hydrating, glossy finish.

Potential allergens: Castor oil, olive oil, sunflower seed oil, shea butter, sunflower seed oil

Hero ingredients: 6% tripeptide complex, 2% hyaluronic acid spheres 

Price: $13

About the brand: Colette Laxton and Mark Curry founded The Inkey List in 2018 with a goal to make high-quality, ingredient-focused skincare accessible to all. The brand’s best sellers include the Hyaluronic Acid Serum, Oat Cleansing Balm, and Caffeine Eye Cream.

About My Lips: On the drier side

I’ve been through two rounds of Accutane, which means that my lips are chronically dry. It’s safe to say that I’m a lip balm fiend—I tend to carry around three to four products in my purse, reapplying several times throughout the day. That being said, I’m picky with my lip balms: I prefer non-sticky, non-greasy formulas that keep my lips hydrated throughout the day. My skin is also acne-prone, so some heavier balms can cause breakouts around my mouth. 

Over the span of four weeks, I applied this lip balm three to four times a day, replacing my usual lip cocktail (Rhode’s Peptide Lip Treatment and Vaseline make for an unexpectedly potent duo). I found it somewhat difficult to apply the lip balm frequently, but once I got the hang of it, I was able to integrate it into my morning, touch-up, and night routines.

The Feel: Lightweight, hydrating, and serum-like

Close-up of applying The Inkey List's Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm to hand

Derek Deng

Texture-wise, The Inkey List’s Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm doesn’t feel like your typical lip plumper. It’s more comparable to a lip serum: lightweight, non-sticky, somewhat watery, and hydrating. It has a subtle, glossy sheen that lasts for around an hour. You might need to apply the product more often than others, but a major plus of the lighter formula is that it wears comfortably and is less likely to irritate lips or sensitive skin.

The Scent: Not for everyone

While it isn't explicitly fragranced, this lip balm has a faint smell and taste that reminded me of plastic. I wasn’t bothered by it, but if you have a sensitive nose, this is worth taking into consideration.

The Ingredients: Peptides and hydrating agents

Tripeptide complex: Peptides have a reputation as miracle workers for the skin and lips, helping with everything from dryness to plumpness. This lip balm features a 6% tripeptide complex to help with volume loss over time. 

Hyaluronic acid spheres: Hyaluronic acid has been my skincare ride-or-die for a reason: it’s a hydrating, skin-plumping powerhouse that binds and attracts moisture in your skin. In lip products, it can help make lips more voluminous and supple, in addition to retaining moisture.

The Results: Subtle but effective

Close-up of Byrdie writer Derek Deng's lips before and after applying The Inkey List's Tripeptide Plumping lip balm

Derek Deng / Byrdie

Upon application, The Inkey List's Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm has a hydrating and glossy finish, though it fades after around an hour. Over time—I tested this lip balm over the course of four weeks—I found there to be a subtle difference in my lip definition. My before-and-after pictures are definitely more subdued than those on the brand's website, but the difference is there: More specifically, my upper lip is a tad plumper and more defined.

Moreover, I was thoroughly impressed by how skin-friendly this lip balm was. Thicker formulas, plumping ingredients, and frequent reapplication tend to be a recipe for mouth acne for me, but my skin had no negative reaction to this product.

The Value: Budget-friendly and effective

The Inkey List is beloved for its accessible prices overall, and the Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm is no exception at $13. In addition, the balm contains more powerhouse ingredients and potential benefits than many competitors at that price point. However, the actual amount of product—0.33 oz.—is on the smaller side, especially given that you’re instructed to apply it three times a day. All in all, though, $13 is a meager amount compared to what you would pay for lip filler. Girl math!

Similar Products: You've got options

Rhode Peptide Lip Treatment: Hailey Bieber’s cult-favorite lip treatment ($16) is in every it-girl’s makeup bag for a reason. It locks in moisture, comes in a variety of shades and delectable scents, and helps with short-term lip plumping. 

U Beauty Plasma Lip Compound: This lip treatment ($68) isn’t the most cost-effective option, but it offers both immediate and sustained plumping results. The cherry on top? It’s available in 13 shades, allowing you to achieve nourishment and tint in one step.

Final Verdict

The Inkey List’s Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm requires patience, but it works. Long-term, it can boost lip definition and volume, and short-term, it’s a $13 lip balm that fulfills its duties. If you have the patience and are on the hunt for a nourishing, non-tingly lip plumper, this could be the one.


  • Product Name Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm
  • Product Brand The Inkey List
  • Price $13.00
  • Weight 0.33 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Hydroxystearic/Linolenic/Oleic Polyglycerides, Glyceryl Rosinate, Theobroma Grandiflorum (Cupuaçu) Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Candelilla Cera, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Orbignya Oleifera (Babassu) Seed Oil, Squalane, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Salvia Hispanica (Chia) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Behenate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables, Tribehenin, Sorbitan Isostearate, Tocopherol, Portulaca Pilosa Extract, Trihydroxystearin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Sucrose Cocoate, Brassica Alba Sprout Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, Glucomannan.


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