Like the rest of our skin, aging affects the volume found in our lips, leaving our once-plump pout looking thinner and drier over time. However, there are also additional factors—excessive sun exposure, genetics and smoking—that can greatly accelerate the process and create less-than-full lips, lip lines and lack of definition even faster.
The silver lining: there’s a way to prevent some of it. Ahead, six ways to reverse and curb lip aging.
Focus on a smooth surface
Exfoliation isn’t just for every other part of your body. Lip-softening ingredients such as shea butter and natural oils leave lips looking smooth, and when paired with safe-for-lips exfoliators—sugar is a popular one—get to work even faster.
For a down-and-dirty exfoliator, look no further than Sara Happ’s Lip Scrub ($24) that’s safe enough to lick off; Clarins The Lip Oil ($26)—the iconic product just launched a limited-edition collaboration with The Kooples—intensely hydrates suffering lips and leaves behind a barely-there sheen.
Invest in anti-aging lip products
Line-ironing hyaluronic acid and future-proofing SPF go a long way in keeping lips naturally plump, smooth and youthful. Our current favorites: iS Clinical Youth Lip Elixir ($58) which calls on enzymes and vitamins C and E to keep your pout in tip-top shape, and nourishing Supergoop! Acai Fusion Lip Balm ($9.50) complete with shea butter and SPF 30.
Try out a plumping product
Subtle plumping is just a swipe away, thanks to next-gen glosses and treatments that plump in minutes. Must-tries include: Buxom Full-On Plumping Lip Polish ($21) is packed with peptides, along with vitamins A and E, to douse lips with moisture and volume, Urban Decay Lip Plumper in Honey ($22) acts as the perfect plumping topcoat to any lipstick and Glamglow Plumprageous Matte Lip Treatment ($19) delivers all of the fullness without all the shine.
Fake it with makeup
When you’re in a pinch, nothing plumps a pout quicker than overlining lips or adding a touch of gloss in the right place. To start, try a nude liner similar to the color of your natural lips—Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk ($22) is a makeup-artist favorite—and shade the corners of your lips before slightly overdrawing the rest. Then, blend out the edges either with your finger or a lip brush before topping with your favorite nude lipstick.
To contour your lips, line them as you normally would—or use the above method—and find your two favorite lipsticks (make sure they complement each other!). Apply the darker shade all over the lips, then use the paler shade on the center of the lips and blend outward. Voila! A fuller-looking pout.
Watch your diet
Just like being dehydrated can wreak havoc on our skin, the same goes for our lips. If dry lips never seem to leave you, simply drinking more water may prove more helpful than you think. Additionally, foods naturally high in collagen—think fish, dark green veggies and berries—help keep lips looking full and ageless.
If you’re after a longer-lasting (and more invasive) solution to thinning lips, lip injections with hyaluronic acid filler, fat grafting or a lip lift (a procedure where the upper lip is shortened) may be right for you. A conversation with your board-certified dermatologist, plastic surgeon, facial plastic surgeon or oculoplastic surgeon will help determine the best—and most natural-looking—course of action to keep your pout center stage and thriving.
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