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What causes lip lines and how to treat them

What Causes Lip Lines?

What causes lip lines around the mouth? They are common, start showing up as we age, and are some of the most stubborn facial wrinkles to fix. They are also some of the most bothersome wrinkles once they make their appearance in the middle of our faces. Here is what you need to know about skin care to fight lip lines:

Vertical wrinkles around the mouth are dynamic wrinkles.

Are Lip Lines Normal?

Yes, they are part of normal age-related facial skin changes for many people. The lines will become more visible as the mouth muscles purse the lips. The muscles under the skin around the lips (called the perioral area of your face) encircle your mouth. When you whistle, pucker your lips, talk, sip from a straw etc., these muscles contract and wrinkle the overlying skin.

Over time, as skin thins, the wrinkles are etched into the skin. At first, they are fine. Eventually, they deepen. Ultimately, the stubborn nature of these wrinkles is due to the dynamic muscular movement of the mouth and we call lip lines dynamic wrinkles.

Lip lines are also called smoker’s lines, because of the dynamic pursing action of sucking on a cigarette for years.

Smoking is not necessary, however, for the development of lip lines and I prefer to call them perioral rhytids (wrinkles), which is a much more accurate medical term.

Why are women more prone to lip lines (smoker’s lines) than men?

Perioral wrinkles are a much more common skin problem for women than for men. A women’s skin is thinner. Also, men shave daily and this has been shown to help thicken skin and reduce the risk of wrinkles over time.

How to reduce wrinkles around the mouth?

The best and most effective treatments for perioral rhytids are surgical, injectable, chemical peel, and laser procedures. That said, I feel it is important to use a skin care routine that also targets the causes and softens the appearance of these stubborn wrinkles; whether you are considering procedures or not, a wrinkle-fighting skin care routine will help.

What are the best skin care products and creams to reduce lip lines?

best skin care products for lip lines

Use skin creams, serums and other products with ingredients that stimulate skin collagen renewal and fight collagen decline. This strategy will build up lost collagen to help counter the process of wrinkles being recurrently etched into the skin by the dynamic movement of the mouth muscles. Proven ingredients that stimulate collagen renewal include,

  1. Retinoids (retinol and prescription tretinoin)
  2. Glycolic acid
  3. Vitamin C

Of these, the best results come from applying retinol and/or glycolic acid at night as I explain below.

Prevent collagen loss by wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen daily.

What skin care products help to get rid of lip lines fast?

Skin serums and creams that plump skin will soften lip lines fast.

Holding water in the layers of your skin gives immediate results. Use products rich in,

  1. hyaluronic acid (which can hold 1000 times its weight in water!),
  2. sodium PCA (also called NaPCA, part of your skin’s Natural Moisturizing Factor) and,
  3. glycerin.
best serum to reduce appearance of lip lines

These three ingredients act like sponges to hold water into your skin immediately. An advanced formulation of these three water-binding ingredients is found in my Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum. This serum also creates brightly luminous skin tone that reflects light to lessen the appearance of deep wrinkles that often appear worse due to shadowing.

Products that physically exfoliate and brighten skin soften lip lines fast.

Brighten skin immediately to create a dewy, reflective glow, and the deep shadows in lip lines will be less noticeable. On a day where you want your lip lines improved as much as possible, physically exfoliate then apply the Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum. For exfoliation, you have choices:

exfoliation scrub for lip linesbest face wash for lip lines

The best ingredients to fight lip lines with collagen renewal are retinol and glycolic acid.

These powerful collagen inducers work more slowly than exfoliation and hyaluronic acid when it comes to reversing lip lines. They are still a key long term skin care strategy to fight this stubborn problem. I typically recommend using these together at bedtime.

Bedtime skin care treatment to fight lip lines:

Use my Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream at night and top it with Glycolic Acid Face Cream if your complexion is not sensitive. Sensitive complexions may need to stick with just the Retinol because the acid pH in professional glycolic acid products can irritate sensitive skin. Always start with lower concentrations of these products and work up over time to the highest concentration your skin will allow.

best retinol to fight lip linesbest skin care product to fight lip lines

Know that these ingredients, when present at high concentration in professional formulations, both help stimulate collagen and will brighten perioral skin texture and tone with chemical exfoliation. This last benefit happens quickly. 

    Daily sun protection helps to prevent lip lines.

    Your skin thins over your lifetime primarily from sun exposure. Up to 80% of your facial wrinkles are due to sun, even in the dynamic perioral area of your face. Prevent additional skin thinning with the use of daily broad spectrum sunscreen. Don’t go outside without it!

    pure mineral sunscreens for lip lines

    The best facial sun protection comes from wearing a mineral zinc oxide broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen every day.

    To see most advanced the mineral zinc oxide sunscreens I recommend and use, click here. 

    If you wear makeup, dust pure mineral makeup powder on top for additional scattering of UV rays. We won’t say it is a sunscreen, but it helps your sunscreen to work better.

      Putting it all together: Dermatologist’s Skin Care Routine to Fight Lip Lines

      dermatologist advice to treat lip lines

      I just gave you a number of options that address lip lines from every angle. You get the best result fighting lip lines with this combination of products that physically and chemically exfoliate your skin, stimulate collagen renewal, deeply hydrate and plump skin to immediately improve lip lines, all topped with daily broad spectrum sunscreen.

      Build this into a layered Complete Skin Care that makes sense. 

        Best skin care to fight lip lines

        CLEANSE and gently exfoliate with Triple Action Exfoliation Cleanser daily. Twice a week, give your skin a deeper exfoliation with the Bamboo and Clay Thermal Exfoliation Scrub in the morning when you really want to brighten the perioral area. 

        CORRECT lip lines in the morning by hydrating them deeply using Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum. 

        At night, apply Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream right after washing. Top with Glycolic Acid Face Cream if you have tolerant skin. 

        HYDRATE by applying your favorite moisturizer such as my Daily Face Cream. 

        PROTECT by topping your lip line fighting products with a broad spectrum SPF 30+ zinc oxide sunscreen matched to your skin type. Apply mineral makeup powder on top if you wear makeup.  

        The Bottom Line on Skin Care to Fight Lip Lines:

        Lip lines are tenacious, common and require a powerful skin care routine if you want to prevent and reverse them. Creating a layered skin care routine that addresses the most important elements of what causes lip lines will give you the best results. This is important even if you are also considering cosmetic procedures to treat lip line.