POSTED: 5 Aug 2023

How to Get Rid of Lip Lines

Lip lines, also known as lipstick lines, smoker’s lines, or perioral wrinkles, are a common sign of skin ageing. They are notoriously hard to treat and because of their location are extremely noticeable. For this reason, they are often a big cosmetic concern for a lot of people. In this article we’ll explore what causes lip lines, how to prevent them, and the best treatments for filling and getting rid of lip lines.

What are Lip Lines & What Causes Them?

Lip lines are the small, vertical wrinkles that form above your upper lip but they can also form below the bottom lip as they progress. At the early stage, these lines are dynamic and so often only appear when you move your mouth. If left untreated, like any wrinkle, they become static which means they are visible all the time. Due to the actions of the orbicularis muscle, which opens and closes your mouth, these lines are often more pronounced when you pout or purse your lips. Over time, lip lines can become deeper and more visible. When combined with age-related lip thinning, the overall effect is an aged appearance around the mouth area.

Lip lines are primarily a result of the natural aging process. As we age, our skin loses collagen and elastin. These are the proteins that give your skin its structure and elasticity. This loss, combined with the repetitive movement of muscles around the mouth due to talking, eating and facial expressions, leads to the formation of lines and wrinkles. In addition, there are a number of extrinsic factors that can increase the risk of severity of lip lines including sun damage, smoking, and genetic predisposition.

Sun Damage

Chronic sun exposure is one of the leading causes of premature skin aging. This includes the development of lip lines. The UV rays break down collagen and elastin fibers in the skin. These fibers are the skin’s connective tissue that keeps it firm and flexible. Over time, repeated sun exposure can lead to a loss of these supportive structures, causing the skin to wrinkle and sag. The skin around the mouth and lips is particularly thin and delicate which makes it more vulnerable to sun damage.

Smoking

The repetitive action of smoking, including puckering the lips, combined with the harmful toxins found in cigarettes, can contribute significantly to the formation of lip lines. Nicotine causes blood vessels in the outermost layers of your skin to narrow. This impairs blood flow and deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients essential for skin health and repair. Moreover, many of the over 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes also damage collagen and elastin, causing skin to sag and wrinkle prematurely.

Genetic Predisposition

Genetics play a crucial role in how our skin ages. Some people are genetically predisposed to develop wrinkles, including lip lines, at an earlier age. If your parents or grandparents had prominent wrinkles around their mouth, you might be more likely to develop them. It’s worth noting that while you can’t change your genetic makeup, you can take steps to mitigate other risk factors and take good care of your skin to slow down the aging process.

How to Prevent Lip Lines

The old adage prevention is always better than a cure is very applicable to skin ageing. The best way to prevent lip lines is to take good care of your skin and lead a healthy lifestyle. These are some of the best preventative measures you can take to lip lines away:

  1. Sun Protection: Protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is crucial. Wear a lip balm with SPF, and use sunscreen on your face daily, even in winter or when it’s cloudy or you’re indoors. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses can offer extra protection on sunny days.
  2. Healthy Diet and Hydration: Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can provide the nutrients necessary for maintaining healthy skin. Staying hydrated helps to keep the skin supple and can also contribute to the prevention of lip lines.
  3. Avoid Smoking: Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. Both can lead to premature aging and the formation of lip lines.
  4. Skincare: Retinoids can boost collagen production to prevent the formation of lines and wrinkles. Gently exfoliating the skin around the mouth area to remove dead cells and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Regularly use moisturisers and lip balms containing hyaluronic acid, ceramides and vitamins A, C, and E, can help hydrate the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkling.

How to Get Rid of Lip Lines

There are a number of effective treatments for lip lines and often you need to employ more than one if you want to definitively get rid of lip lines. Lip line treatments range from skincare to professional skin treatments and injectables. Remember that the best treatment will depend on the severity of your lip lines, your overall health, condition of you skin, goals and lifestyle. Whatever option you choose, you will need to take preventative steps to avoid worsening your lip lines and maintain the effects of treatment.

Skincare for Lip Lines

This is a great place to start regardless of the severity of your lip lines. A good effective skincare routine is enough to treat mild lines and prevent new ones from forming. Even with moderate to severe lines, skincare can improve your baseline so that additional treatments are more effective and it will help maintain your results. Below are the main skincare products that help get rid of lip lines.

Retinoids

Retinol and prescription retinoids like Tretinoin are derivatives of Vitamin A. They one of the most important tools in the fight against wrinkles including lip lines.

Collagen is a vital protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin. As we age, the production of collagen naturally decreases, leading to lines and wrinkles. One of the primary ways retinoids treat lip lines is by stimulating collagen production. This helps restore the skin’s youthful elasticity and volume. Retinoids also increase cellular turnover which promotes the rapid exfoliation of dead skin cells. This process smoothens the skin’s surface and helps reduce the appearance of lines and hyperpigmentation, including those around the lips. With time, retinoids can improve the overall texture and quality of the skin on your face and around the lip area.

Exfoliating Acids

Exfoliating acids are a diverse skincare category that can cater to pretty much every skin type and concern. This group mainly is mainly split into alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic and lactic acids, polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid,

These acids dissolve the bonds holding dead skin cells together which causes old damaged cells to shed more quickly. This reveals the fresh and younger skin beneath. Regular use of exfoliating acids can smooth the appearance of lines, enhance skin texture and boost radiance. Like retinoids, exfoliating acids can also stimulate collagen production. This dual action helps minimise the appearance of wrinkles including lines around the lips.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants like Vitamins C, E, and A, along with compounds like resveratrol and green tea extract are a key defence against harmful free radicals. They effectively neutralise these unstable molecules which can cause cellular damage and skin ageing.

Exposure to UV rays, pollution, and tobacco smoke contributes to the formation of free radicals. By scavenging and neutralising these harmful molecules, antioxidants prevent them from breaking down collagen and elastin. This protective mechanism helps maintain the youthful appearance of the skin, keeping lip lines at bay. Collagen stimulation is another key benefit of antioxidants, in particular Vitamin C. It actively boosts collagen production to increase the skin’s suppleness and firmness. This not only helps reduce the appearance of existing lip lines but can also prevent new ones from forming.

Moisturisers

Lines and wrinkles are most apparent on dry skin. Hydrating and moisturising your skin can help improve the appearance of these. Furthermore, this skincare step can protect and repair your skin barrier which reduces redness and enables you to sue actives like retinoids and exfoliating acids without problem. There are a number of core hydrating and moisturising compounds in skincare. Each of these ingredients works in its unique way to support the health, structure and appearance of the skin.

Humectants:

These are substances that attract and retain moisture from the surrounding environment. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and urea are common humectants used in skincare products. They work by drawing water molecules to the surface of the skin, increasing hydration. This has a plumping effect on the skin, which can help to fill in and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, including lip lines.

Emollients:

Ingredients like squalene, fatty acids like ceramides, and various plant oils, fill in small gaps and irregularities in the skin’s surface, including fine lines around the lips. This fills the lip lines and makes the wrinkles less noticeable. They also provide a barrier over the skin which locks in moisture and helps to maintain hydration. This mechanism plumps up the skin, reducing the appearance of lip lines and improving overall texture. Additionally, emollients can enhance your skin’s elasticity and suppleness by reducing water loss which helps prevent new lines forming.

Occlusives:

Compounds like beeswax, lanolin, and various mineral and plant oils form a physical barrier on the skin’s surface which locks in moisture and prevents water loss. This helps to plump up the skin, including the delicate areas around the lips where fine lines often appear. By keeping the skin well-hydrated, occlusives can lessen the appearance of existing lip lines. This barrier function is particularly vital in extreme weather conditions, where dry or cold air can dehydrate the skin, potentially leading to the formation new or exacerbation of existing lip lines.

Non-Surgical Professional Skin Treatments for Lip Lines

There are a number of advanced skin treatments and injectables than can help treat moderate to severe lip lines. You will need to see an experienced medical practitioner to ensure if these treatments are appropriate and which ones will work best for you.

Microneedling

Minimally invasive skin treatments like microneedling and RF microneedling can help treat lines and wrinkles. Microneedling, creates tiny controlled punctures in the skin’s surface. These micro-injuries trigger the body’s natural healing mechanism, which stimulates the production of collagen and elastin. As a result, the skin becomes firmer and more elastic, softening the appearance of wrinkles including lip lines. RF microneedling augments the results of the traditional technique by delivering radiofrequency energy into the deeper layers of the skin. This targeted heat energy boosts the collagen and elastin production which fills lip lines.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels remove the outermost layers of the skin. This is most commonly done by using an acid solution. This process increases skin turnover and reveals fresh, new skin cells as well as enhancing collagen and elastin production. This is an effective treatment for getting rid of lip lines as it improves your skin texture, elasticity and smoothes fine lines and wrinkles.

There are many different types of chemical peels. e.g. glycolic, salicylic, or trichloroacetic acids and different strengths. The type and concentration of peel determines the levels of exfoliation that it can achieved. Lighter peels may gently refresh the skin’s surface, reducing the visibility of fine lip lines. On the other hand, more intense peels can penetrate deeper, and so are used to address more pronounced wrinkles.

Botox & Dermal Fillers

Injectables like Botox and dermal fillers are two popular treatments that can effectively address lip lines. They work in quite different ways and can be used separately or together depending on the severity of your lip lines.

Botox temporarily relaxes muscles and smoothes dynamic wrinkles. When injected into the muscles around the mouth that contribute to wrinkles, Botox can smooth out lip lines. This can fully treat early lines that haven’t set in or soften ingrained ones. If done correctly, it can give the skin around the mouth a more youthful appearance. The effects of Botox results are temporary, typically lasting about three to four months on average. As such you will need to repeat the treatment to maintain the effect.

Dermal fillers are gel-like substances injected under the skin to restore volume and fill in wrinkles. Only hyaluronic acid dermal fillers should be used on the face and neck including for filling lip lines. This is because they can be dissolved in an emergency or if there is a problem which makes them safer. Unlike Botox, hyaluronic acid dermal fillers can treat deep and ingrained wrinkles. It can also help support the outline of the lips and hence provide a more refreshed looking perioral area. The results of dermal fillers are immediate and can last anywhere from six months to a year or more, depending on the type of filler and individual factors. Like Botox, it’s minimally invasive but requires skilled administration by a medical practitioner.

Both Botox and dermal fillers can be used together to target more advanced lip lines. This procedure requires a lot of technical expertise but when performed correctly can really rejuvenate the mouth area and get rid of lip lines.

Profhilo

Profhilo is a type of injectable hyaluronic acid treatment that boosts collagen and elastin production. It hydrates, tightens and plumps up the skin. As such, Profhilo is great for filling lip lines and preventing further wrinkles. A typical Profhilo treatment consists of two sessions spaced a month apart. The final results are seen 6 weeks after the second session and you need to repeat the treatment every 6-8 months to maintain the outcomes. Profhilo and other skin boosters work in a similar way to microneedling and prescription-retinoids like Tretinoin. They stimulate your skin to repair itself.

Laser Resurfacing

Last but not least, laser can smooth and fill lip lines by removing the outer layer of skin and stimulating collagen production. Laser resurfacing is a cosmetic dermatology procedure that uses focused light beams to remove damaged skin layers and stimulate the growth of new, healthy skin cells. This can provide really dramatic long-lasting results depending on the type of laser therapy used. There are various types of laser treatments which can get rid of lip lines, including ablative non-ablative and fractional lasers. You must see a skilled medical provider for laser treatments as they will help determine which is the safest and most effective type of laser and protocol to use based on the severity of your lip lines, skin type and overall health. They will also advise how many treatments you will require and what to expect in terms of risks and downtime.

Lip lines are a common concern that can be effectively addressed through prevention and various treatment options. The best treatment to get rid of lip lines depends on the severity of your lines, overall skin health, your goals and lifestyle. That’s why its essential to consult with a dermatologist or a skin care professional to determine the best approach for your individual needs and circumstances. regardless of the treatment you choose, remember take the preventative steps mentioned above and also use a good anti-ageing skincare routine. This will not only help improve the appearance f your lip lines but also prevent new ones from forming and existing ones from worsening.

We strongly believe that skincare is personal and should always be bespoke. Our virtual skin clinic offers safe and effective prescription-strength treatments like Tretinoin and Hydroquinone to treat conditions like acnehyperpigmentationmelasma and skin ageing. Book a virtual consultation with one of our doctors today. Your journey towards great skin starts here.

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Authored by:

Dr Amel Ibrahim
Aesthetic Doctor & Medical Director
BSC (HONS) MBBS MRCS PHD
Founder City Skin Clinic
Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Associate Member of British Association of Body Sculpting GMC Registered - 7049611

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