Tips for targeting fine lines around the mouth

While we all know that ageing is inevitable, it can be confronting when lines start to appear on your face.

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Sarah Stivens
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While we all know that ageing is inevitable, it can be confronting when lines start to appear on your face. And, if you've noticed new lines appearing on your skin, you're not alone — it's a completely normal sign of ageing.

It's pretty common for new creases to start showing up around the mouth, but how can you make them less noticeable? In this article, we'll explore the different ways you can treat facial wrinkles and lines around the mouth.

What are nasolabial folds?

Kicking right off with the fancy medical terms, aren't we? A nasolabial fold is a common type of facial wrinkle that develops on your inner cheeks [1]. We're talking about the vertical lines that curve in an almost 'c' shape from the side of your nose to the corner of your mouth, on each side of your face.

They show up near your nostrils, cheeks and upper lip, and can deepen with age. All of us are born with nasolabial folds to some degree, but they might be more prominent in some people than others [1].

You might have heard them called smile lines, laugh lines, marionette lines, or even "smokers lines". Whatever you choose to call them, there are a few reasons why lines around the mouth might become more noticeable with time. Let's get into it!

What causes lines around the mouth?

Facial ageing is a really dynamic process — there's more than one thing going on behind the scenes. You've got both soft tissue and bones in that lovely face of yours, and they each have a role in the ageing process [2].

So what actually causes wrinkles and lines on your face? A combination of factors, really. Some causes of ageing are out of our control, such as:

  • Gravity (causing your skin to droop over time)
  • Your soft tissue maturing and changing
  • Your bone structure changes as you age (or as a result of injury/surgery)
  • Decreased elastin levels (causing a loss of elasticity in the skin)
  • Slower collagen production (meaning your skin becomes less firm)
  • Dead skin cells are not being shed as often (less skin renewal occurring)
  • Loss of fat cells (causing the skin to sag over time)
  • Skin not being able to retain moisture as well [2]

These wrinkle-causing fiends are what the experts refer to as signs of internal ageing — the natural processes of ageing that happen to us all as we get older. One of the first places fine lines and wrinkles start to appear is around the mouth [2].

Genetics play a part in how we age as well. Our gender, race, health conditions, and other factors can all influence how our skin behaves as we get older [3]. For example, women generally develop more/deeper wrinkles than men [3].

So, there's the stuff that's completely out of our control. How do our own habits and behaviours cause wrinkles around the mouth and the rest of our face?

Can you prevent lip lines from occurring?

So the long and the short of it is: we're all going to have at least some lines and wrinkles on our faces eventually. That part simply can't be helped [4]. But we absolutely can influence other types of ageing (the bits that aren't out of our control) by adjusting our lifestyle choices to protect our skin [4].

The type of wrinkle causes we can fight back against is usually referred to as external ageing [2]. This includes lifestyle factors such as:

  • Sun/UV exposure
  • Exposure to wind and other harsh climates
  • Doing certain facial expressions too often (e.g. habitual frowning or squinting)
  • Poor nutrition or dehydration
  • Smoking [2]
  • Alcohol consumption [4].

In Australia, sun damage and UV radiation are one of the major causes of premature ageing and fine lines on the skin [5]. Too much sun dries out and destroys skin cells, which makes wrinkles develop faster [2].

How to prevent lines around the mouth

The best way to prevent mouth wrinkles is to check out the list above and adjust accordingly. Always wear sunscreen, and try to avoid sun exposure in the middle of the day (when UV is at its peak) [5].

If you're a serial frowner or squinter, try to avoid making repetitive facial expressions where you can. Wearing sunglasses could help with too much squinting! Facial exercises can also help [4].

Most wellness professionals will also recommend you quit smoking and reduce your alcohol consumption. Alcohol dries out your skin quick-smart, and smoking causes mouth wrinkles to show up much faster (hence them being called smoker lines) [4].

Finally, eating a healthy diet and being selective with your skincare routine can also help prevent fine lines from appearing.

Getting the right nutrition will help promote collagen production — especially if you include foods that contain vitamin c, protein, whole grains, and other fruits and veg [6]. Remember to chat with your GP before you make any dietary changes, though.

Wash your face with a gentle cleanser instead of harsh products that sting or dry you out. Avoid scrubbing too harshly — irritating your skin will only age it faster [4].

If you're after skincare that'll help you preserve younger-looking skin, check out Software's prescription ageing treatment. Our doctors personalise a formula just for your skin, so you can target fine lines and wrinkles across your face — from around your mouth and on your forehead to crow's feet and under your eyes.

Software's formula contains medical-grade ingredients like prescription retinoids, to promote collagen production and increase skin cell turnover, as well as niacinamide for skin elasticity and hyaluronic acid to increase skin hydration.

How are lip lines and wrinkles treated?

Maybe you've been doing all the right things already, but there are a few wrinkles you want to try tackling. There are lots of treatment types available — choosing the right one for you should always be done with help from a professional.

Dermal fillers

If you've spent any time on Instagram or TikTok, you've heard of fillers. Fillers are used to treat nasolabial folds pretty often — it usually involves injecting hyaluronic acid or collagen into the skin to replace 'fullness' [8]. Fillers aren't permanent and usually wear off after several months [7].

Botox

Botox, or botulinum toxin, is another one you've probably already come across. This is another injectable that works by immobilising or freezing the muscles that cause wrinkles and makes the skin look smoother. Again, Botox isn't permanent and usually lasts for 3-4 months [9].

Like with all medical procedures, both Botox and dermal fillers come with risks involved and aren't suitable for everyone. More on this below!

Laser treatment

Laser treatment for wrinkles can be used to resurface the skin, and reduce fine lines caused by sun damage. It can also help with collagen formation in some instances, depending on how the treatment is administered [7].

Topical product treatments

You'll find lots of anti-ageing treatments on the market; creams, lotions, moisturisers, and exfoliators. They can vary in strength and how they work — some will soothe dry skin, while others will exfoliate dead skin cells to promote new cell growth.

Products you get over-the-counter will work differently from ones you're prescribed by a GP or dermatologist, so it's good to do your research and get some advice [7].

How do I know a treatment is safe?

As we mentioned earlier, some of the more invasive skin treatments can involve risks — you should only seek treatment from a registered medical practitioner [10].

If you're looking into Botox or fillers, you should always make sure you've had a consult with a medical professional to make sure the treatment will be safe for you. These are prescription-only medicines, so it's important that they're administered by someone with the right training [10].

Some people definitely shouldn't have Botox — if you have a skin infection, are unwell, have a neuromuscular condition, taking certain medicines, or are pregnant/breastfeeding, it's best to avoid Botox altogether [9].

Side effects can include not being able to move muscles in the injection area, headaches and flu-like symptoms, bruising/redness, and temporary muscle weakness. In some rare cases, more serious reactions such as blurred vision or breathing difficulties can occur — if this happens, seek urgent medical attention [9].

If you're getting dermal fillers or Botox done, make sure the facility is clean and properly registered, and that the registered medical practitioner will be with you for the whole procedure [10].

And if you're not sure about injectables (or they're not suitable for you) you can always revisit the topical options above. Good skincare is a great start to reducing the appearance of wrinkles and lines on your face.

Can I get rid of lip lines for good?

There aren't any permanent fixes for wrinkles that we know of (sorry, no Fountain of Youth maps here!) but looking after your skin and health goes a long way.

Exploring the above treatment options, starting a skincare routine that accounts for ageing, and making healthy lifestyle choices will all help reduce the appearance of mouth wrinkles, deep lines, and other skin nasties.

By doing this, you'll even be able to prevent wrinkles from forming in the first place — the better your overall health is, the more your skin will thank you.

And remember, the best treatments are the ones that suit your skin and can fit into your lifestyle — start simple, get advice when you need it, and don't forget the SPF!

Photo credit: Getty Images

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