When we think about areas of our face where wrinkles and fine lines show up, our lips aren’t usually the first spot we think of. But lip wrinkles, which are vertical lines that form on and around your lips as you age, can be a source of annoyance that can leave us feeling less confident than we deserve to be.
But what are lip wrinkles, exactly, and what can you do about them? Here’s everything you need to know.
As noted above, lip wrinkles are vertical lines that form on and around your lips as you get older. They’re sometimes called “lip lines,” “lipstick lines,” or “smoker’s lines,” and they can be tough to hide or conceal, making them more bothersome than other wrinkles or fine lines.
There are a handful of causes of lip wrinkles, but there are the most common ones:
Unfortunately, one of the top causes of lip wrinkles is pretty inevitable: Aging skin. “As we age, we gradually produce less and less collagen,” explains cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green. “This means our skin is less able to repair itself and retain moisture, resulting in drier, thinner, and less elastic skin. This also makes our lips and other areas of our face more prone to fine lines and wrinkles”.
Sun exposure (and lack of protection) can be another culprit when it comes to lip wrinkles. “Repetitive unprotected sun exposure can make lip wrinkles worse since the ultraviolet rays can damage our collagen stores and cause premature aging,” explains Dr. Green.
There’s a reason why lip wrinkles are often referred to as “smoker’s lines” — smoking is a big reason why lip wrinkles show up in the first place. “Smoking can cause premature aging since cigarettes contain free radicals that damage our bodies and prevent our skin cells from getting adequate nutrients.”
Treatments for Lip Wrinkles
As with most skin-related issues, the best treatment for lip wrinkles is to stop them from popping up in the first place — or at the very least, do your very best to stop them from getting worse. “You can change your diet to include foods that are high in antioxidants like berries, leafy greens, and nuts,” Dr. Green suggests. “These foods can fight free radicals and other agents that cause premature aging. Quitting smoking, if you smoke, can improve your blood flow and improve both your complexion as well as prevent any more free radicals from damaging your skin cells.”
Here are some other options worth trying:
There are tons of different lip serums and balms out there, so look out for a lip wrinkle serum that contains specific ingredients.
“Look for products containing either vitamin C or retinoids,” suggests Dr. Green. “Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is known to support healthy collagen production, making it optimal for preventing lip lines and keeping them from getting worse. Meanwhile, retinoids support natural cellular turnover and stimulate collagen production. This makes them a great option in reducing the appearance of fine lines and rejuvenating the skin.”
That being said, if you opt for a serum or balm that contains a retinoid, it’s extra important to remember to apply a lip balm with SPF afterward.
Since exfoliation helps slough off dead skin cells, lip exfoliants can be a great way to keep the skin on your lips healthy. Just remember not to overdo it (once a week is fine), and make sure to apply a moisturizer and SPF afterward. “Many people fail to apply SPF to their lips when they go out,” Dr. Green says. “Always apply a lip balm with SPF and reapply every two hours to protect your lips from UV damage.”
Treat your lips to a luxurious oil massage, especially if you’re regularly exfoliating them. Lip oils are an excellent way to deeply moisturize the skin of the lips, helping to protect them from further damage.
Dr. Green notes that dermal fillers can be an excellent treatment option for lip wrinkles. “Dermal fillers that are made of hyaluronic acid like Belotero Balance, Restylane, and Juvederm can temporarily fill in lip lines and give the appearance of natural, supple, and beautiful lips,” she notes. “Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in our bodies and when injected, can add volume, smooth out the surface of the skin, and immediately improve the skin’s overall appearance.” It’s always important to discuss your options with your dermatologist to determine what is right for you.
While annoying, there’s a lot you can do to reduce the appearance of lip wrinkles and stop them from getting worse. So fill up your cart with antioxidant-rich foods, remember to exfoliate, and don’t forget the SPF!
Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green
*All referenced results are based on an 8-week U.S. clinical and consumer study.
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*information is taken from The Skincare Source.