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For a skincare blog, I seem to have missed an important part of our skin, and was only reminded after a reader asked about it: our lips. Specifically, how to get rid of or prevent lip lines and wrinkles.
Maybe it’s because my lip care routine has always been so simple I never gave it much thought, but after doing some research, I can assure you, anti-aging lip care doesn’t have to be complicated! Just 4 simple ways, and you might be doing some of these already!
What causes lip lines?
Like any other lines and wrinkles on our skin, lip lines are caused the breakdown of collagen due to sun exposure or naturally as part of the aging process. They can also be exacerbated by moisture loss in the skin and lips, the latter is especially prone to this since there’s no oil glands there to naturrally moisturize them.
The vertical lines that extend beyond your upper lips can also be caused by certain repeated muscle movements, such as drinking out of a straw or water bottle, smoking (it’s terrible for you all around), or even making too many duck face selfies. Do you see the common mouth shape among all 4?
With that said, here are 4 treatments you can try that don’t involve surgery, fillers, or injections:
Use a lip balm with SPF
And by SPF I mean something with both UVB and UVA protection. We know to do this for our face, it makes sense that our lips get the same treatment! After all, prevention is much easier than correction, and luckily there are now more lip balms with sun protection built in. Here are my favorites:
Comes fragrance-free or in yummy flavors like milk vanilla and rich honey, I love how comfortable this feels on the lips (and how fun it is to apply)! It's not as rich as some of my other lip balms but the light texture actually makes it nice for layering under lipstick. This one is a staple on my work desk since I sit in front of a large window.
A similar formula to the above except with color! These actually feel even creamier on the lips, which also means they're prone to transferring, so reapply often when you're outdoors. The tint is medium and all 6 shades are great for everyday wear.
Feels and applies like your typical squeezy tube lip balms. It feels more nourishing than the Mentholatum, which means that it's also not as great for layering under lipstick, but perfect for drier lips that don't need the extra color.
Another fun and affordable option, it's actually similar to the Melty Cream Lip Balm except you get fruit flavors. This one also uses physical filters (zinc oxide specifically) to help protect against sun damage.
Remember, your lips have no oil glands so they need all the external help to stay moisturized. Luckily this can be achieved by any good lip balm, but here are my favorites that work well and are a joy to apply:
Hands down the best overnight lip balm I've tried. It's just creamy enough to easily scoop the product out of the jar, but not too viscous that it becomes runny. I apply a thick layer of this on my lips every night, often over an anti-aging lip treatment, and it keeps my lips soft and smooth and those dehydrated lip lines at bay.
Of all the bougie lip balms I've tried, this is my favorite. It's not as heavy as the Laneige and more suited for day use when my lips are feeling extra dry. What sets this apart from other luxury brands is the incredibly elevated scents they come in, from macarons + coffee to rose + vanilla, which honestly makes remembering to reapply so much easier!
Nothing locks in moisture like Vaseline, and while it doesn't have the same skintertainment factor as the other two, it still smells nice and it works well to minimize those fine lines on the lips. The rosy lips version also has a light tint!
A squeezy tube for easy application, but this is just as moisturizing as the Vaseline or Emile Cordon without being sticky. Plus it contains ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol to nourish the lips! It's also fragrance-free.
We’re talking peptides and retinol, basically all our favorite anti-aging ingredients for the face, but formulated to be safe on the lips (please don’t apply your retinol on your lips…just don’t). These are the workhorses in my anti-aging lip care routine:
This will not only moisturize your lips with hyaluronic acid but it's got 4 types of peptides, including Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline which specifically targets fine lines on the lips! The texture isn't too heavy and feels comfortable on the lips, but it does have this not-so-pleasant oil scent which I don't love. But it works on my lip lines, so I just power through the smell.
I hate that this is out of stock, because I actually enjoy using this a lot more than the Paula's Choice Lip Booster. One, the fragranced versions are YUM, and the unfragranced one doesn't smell like anything. Two, it also feels more moisturizing, though it does contain 1 peptide vs 4, but it still helps minimize my lip lines so that's all that matters!
I'm a huge fan of their Super Serum, and their lip serum contains the same star ingredient Retinol 8 (Retinyl Retinoate), as well as hyaluronic acid and peptides for serious anti-aging action. If you have deeper lip wrinkles, this could be worth looking into!
So affordable and I love the stick applicator because it's much easier and less messy too. It uses really fine sugar granules that will slowly dissolve as you scrub, making it gentler on the lips. It does leave behind a light layer of hydration, though I still prefer applying a lip balm afterwards.
Made with brown sugar and orange peel, not only does this smell yummy but you can actually lick this away when you're done scrubbing! Like the e.l.f it's super easy to use as well, though I do think the former is a bit more effective.
This is like the bougier version of the e.l.f but in tub form. The sugar granule texture feels so fine (both literally and figuratively) on the lips yet it still manages to scrub away all that dead skin. Definitely layer on that lip balm afterwards though!
While topical products can do a lot, there’s also lifestyle habits we can adopt (or quit) to help prevent lip lines, here are a few:
Avoid using straws. Not only are they not great for the environment (and let’s admit, paper straws suck), the way your mouth is shaped can lead to lines around your upper lips.
Don’t smoke or vape. Obvious reasons aside, these habits also require you to purse your lips, which leads to lip lines.
Avoid licking your lips. By doing this you’re actually making your lips drier in the long run, so whenever you’re tempted to lick them, apply a lip balm instead. This is why I always have a lip balm on me (and how I justify my ridiculous collection lol).
Drink enough water. While drinking more water than necessary won’t do much for your lips or skin, not drinking enough can dehydrate those areas. I struggle with this myself, so yummy drink mixes are my best friends.
Using proven anti-aging skincare products. Not on your lips, but the skin surrounding your mouth, especially near your upper lips. Retinol, peptides, and vitamin c are all great collagen boosters that can help minimize the appearance of vertical lip lines.
Like skincare, lip care takes time to see results, especially if you’re trying to get rid line and wrinkles. And much like skincare, there’s only so much topical products can do, we can’t remove these signs of aging completely, but we can do our best to prevent and minimize their appearances!
Author: Jenny Wu
(she/her) Skincare educator and researcher with 9+ years of writing experience on the topic. Also a health coach in-training who is passionate about evidence-based wellness 🧪. Learn more.
Skin profile - 30's,
dry/combination, focused on well-aging, hydration, and a healthy glow ✨