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When I traveled to South Korea earlier this year, an injectable trend taking over Seoul with the cutest name imaginable came to my attention: “cherry lips.” The Korean word for the fruit is basically the same as it is in English (체리 or cheli), so I was excited whenever I caught it in interviews with dermatologists before my trusty translator/best friend CJ interpreted their answers back to me.
The trend isn’t called cherry lips just for the sake of being adorable and fun — it’s a reference to the shape this filler technique creates. In the past, Angelina Jolie’s iconic voluminous lips inspired filler trends just like they did in America, according to Kang Jong Bum, the head dermatologist at JY Plastic Surgery & Dermatology. Now, Koreans prefer a cherry-like aesthetic for more natural-looking volume and dimension.
Instead of giving lips an all-over plumping effect, dermatologists focus on filling in only the middle areas. “We call it cherry lips because the lips are not volumized at the [outer corners], but you can see the two areas that are plump on the top and the bottom,” Kang explains. Imagine two pairs of cherries hanging horizontally from the corners of your lips like the diagram below — that’s where cherry lips get its name from.
Once I got back home to New York City, I chatted with Y. Claire Chang, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology about cherry lips for more context. She travels to Seoul frequently throughout the year to learn about the latest advancements in cosmetic dermatology and bring some new treatments and techniques to her patients in New York. “Koreans are highly driven by a desire to stay young,” she explains. “Cherry lips give a fuller, more youthful appearance.”
From my own observations, several K-pop stars are known for their cherry-like lip shape. I have a feeling they helped popularize the look, too. Just search “체리입술” (cherry lips) on Twitter, and you’ll see dozens of examples, including, but not limited to, Monsta X’s Joohoney and Hyungwon, Seventeen’s Hoshi and S. Coups, Chung Ha, and almost every member of BTS.
What kind of filler is used for cherry lips?
When the cherry lip shape is the ultimate goal, Chang has to take the patient’s desired look into consideration before choosing which hyaluronic acid filler to administer.