What causes them: Not only is collagen necessary to keep the lips cushiony and full, it also prevents lines and wrinkles from forming. “Wrinkles that form around the mouth, also known as perioral wrinkles, are the effect of lost collagen and elastin in the skin of the lips,” says Eugene, OR, plastic surgeon Mark Jewell, MD. “With this loss of tone, the circular nature of the mouth contracts, and vertical wrinkles are produced.” Lips that are laden with vertical lip lines not only look older, they can also cause lipstick to bleed. Lip lines are omnipresent in smokers since the constant puckering and pursing causes collagen to break down and for lines to become apparent. Genetics also plays a role to some degree.
How to prevent them: The lips are constantly exposed to the elements, which can easily dry them out—the drier they are, the more susceptible they are to lines, and the more visible existing lines become. One of the easiest ways to keep lip lines at bay is by keeping the lips and surrounding skin well moisturized with lip balms and anti-aging products that contain humectant ingredients like honey, hyaluronic acid or sugar. Dead skin can also surface, making your lips dry and lines more pronounced, so make sure you exfoliate with a gentle lip exfoliator at least once a week. “You can also use a lip cream with retinol or alphahydroxy acid to soften lines,” Dr. Mark Jewell adds.
Take preventative measures: To prevent lip lines from forming, ask your doctor about having the area above the mouth injected with tiny amounts of Botox or Dysport. “This works well because it decreases muscle movement and slows down the progression of upper lip lines,” says New York City dermatologist Cameron Rokhsar, MD. When injected properly, you’ll have full movement in your mouth and lips and still be able to smile. The combination of Botox or Dysport and a filler may be more beneficial than either one alone.
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