No, teens on TikTok are not super gluing their lips

The challenge involves using eyelash adhesive on the upper lip and then pressing the top lip up to give the appearance of a plumper look.
Image: A viral challenge has people on TikTok "plumping" their lips with lash glue.
A viral challenge has people on TikTok "plumping" their lips with lash glue.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

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By Kalhan Rosenblatt

In a video posted to the short-form video app TikTok, user Allison Ponthier applied what appeared to be eyelash adhesive just above her top lip. Then she pressed her lip against the glue and gawked into the camera.

Her lip stayed in place, looking bigger and fuller than before.

As of Wednesday, that video appears to no longer be available. But Ponthier uploaded another addressing the new and growing lip trend and videos comparing it to the 2015 Kylie Jenner lip challenge. That DIY plumping technique left teens with cuts and bruises on their mouths as they attempted to imitate the makeup mogul's pout by sucking a cup around their lips.

"My mom just called me to let me know that she saw me do my weird gluing lip challenge thing in a Facebook video," Ponthier, 23, said. "... You're telling me something that's harmless, that takes 5 minutes, and is done with cosmetic eyelash glue is worse [than the Kylie challenge]?"

There have been a spate of reports about the viral challenge on social media, with some saying that teens and young adults are "super gluing" their lips. Most of the challenge videos involve cosmetic eyelash adhesive and don't leave the kind of marks the viral 2015 Kylie Jenner lip challenge did — but experts said the 2019 challenge could still have potential side effects.

There are conflicting reports about who started the trend of applying eyelash adhesive to the upper lip but some believe the trend began with a user named @gnarlysinner, while others credit the trend to user @chloehammock4, who posted a video of the challenge earlier this month.

The trend has spread, with dozens of teens appearing to take part in the challenge (several lip challenges are currently happening simultaneously on TikTok and, because of this, NBC News was unable to approximate the number participating in this particular challenge).

Ponthier did not immediately respond to a request for comment made by NBC News, but said in the video that the challenge left no marks like the Kylie Jenner lip challenge.

However, the glue challenge is not completely risk-free. Effie Kougianos, licensed esthetician and esthetics instructor at the Lia Schorr Institute in New York City, said that eyelash adhesive is one of the "most toxic" beauty products.

Kougianos said the bonding agent in the glue can cause itchiness, burning and redness when applied to the skin. She said the glue also contains formaldehyde.

"Those glues have high concentration of formaldehyde. It’s a confirmed carcinogen," Kougianos said. "Among irritation to the skin caused by it and burning on skin, they're putting it above the lip where they're smelling it, and that is not good either."

But Kougianos said that, like all other trends, this one will likely fade out soon, which means some of the greater issues that can be caused by the adhesive won't have time to occur.

"They'd have to do it every single day for years to have a carcinogenic effect," she said.

Still, Kougianos urged teens and young adults to skip this particular trend. Ponthier, on the other hand, just wants older people to stop over-blowing it.

"I hate people in the older generation who put down the younger generation just because they don't understand something," Ponthier said. "Stop freaking our moms out on Facebook!"