Alejandra Aristizabal/Fusion

Perhaps it's your first day on the Internet this week and you haven't heard about the "Kylie Jenner challenge," a delightful new trend in which teens attempt to get the luscious lips of the 17-year-old sister of Kim Kardashian—then share the results with the hashtag #KylieJennerChallenge.

via Getty Images

How do they plump their lips, you ask? Easy. They hit their parents liquor cabinets, grab a shot glass, place it over their lips, and suck. The results, my friends—the results range from gross to completely horrifying.

Obviously, this challenge is the worst. It also raises important questions about how it's possible to do so much anatomical damage with one shot glass. What's happening beneath the surface?


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Dr. Dendy Engelman, director of dermatologic surgery at New York Medical College, walked us through the science behind images like this and this.


STEP ONE: Once you’ve made the unwise decision to load that shot glass onto your lips and suck, you’re inducing negative pressure from the suctioning. This causes "vessel engorgement," meaning your blood vessels fill with blood, setting off an inflammatory cascade of chemicals (think histamine and leukotrienes.)


STEP TWO: These chemicals then flood your soft tissue, and voila! You’re swollen. If you suck hard enough, you'll break the fragile blood vessels around that area, says Dr. Engelman, and that’s what results in bruising. If you’re fair skinned, you’re even more sensitive.

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In case you were wondering, we asked Dr. Engelman how long could we safely slam our lips into a shot glass, should we wind up alone on Thursday night. If you do it for fifteen to thirty seconds, you’re probably okay, she says. The effects will be mild and temporary.


But many the pictures flooding social media appear to involve sixty seconds or more of sucking, which can cause longer term damage.

One upside of the trend? In engaging in this process, Dr. Engleman told us, you’ve found an innovative way to give yourself a hickey. Well done!


Related: Is it time to pull the plug on fat makeover shows?

Cleo Stiller is a digital producer covering the intersections of sex, tech and culture. Words to live by: get your money's worth.

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