What Are Smokers’ Lines?
Smokers’ Lines, also just called lip lines, are wrinkles which appear as vertical lines around the mouth and are a common effect of aging. Despite the name, they often occur even if the person with them has never been a smoker.
These wrinkles may appear crossing from one side of the mouth to the other, or run upwards horizontally towards the nose.
Small, and fine, the main problem people have with these wrinkles in particular is that many of them appear all at once; and that they often create a cracked appearance which many people prefer to avoid as it makes them look more aged.
These lines are notoriously hard to conceal with make-up and aren’t everyone’s favorite part about aging, but are actually extremely common.
How Do Smokers’ Lines Appear?
Wrinkles appear as we age because as we grow older, our body produces less collagen and elastin in our skin.
These are proteins which keep our skin supple and hydrated; and are why when you’re young you can simply yank on your skin and have it immediately snap back into place: the proteins present there keep your skin firm.
As your skin becomes thinner it has a lot more give: wrinkles start to form in areas which see a lot of muscle movement and where the skin is thinnest- hence why wrinkles develop around the eyes, on the forehead, and around the mouth.
Usually, it’s all a part of a very natural process.
What Else Causes Smokers’ Lines?
There are however, several other causes of Smokers’ Lines: some of them owing to completely avoidable behavior, hence why wrinkles in this area are often associated with smoking and other habits.
In these cases a person may not otherwise have developed Smokers’ Lines at all, or developed them at an older age than if they had just certain behaviors, such as:
- Over-exposure to sun
- Repetitive mouth movements/playing musical instruments
- Pouting/pursing lips
- Certain other unhealthy lifestyle factors
Sometimes however, it can all just come down to a matter of genetics.
There’s a reason that these wrinkles in particular are so closely associated with smoking.
This bad habit is basically a perfect storm for crinkling the area around your mouth: The toxins in cigarettes themselves actually accelerate the breakdown of those vital proteins, elastin and collagen; weakening the area of your mouth whilst drying and thinning the skin.
If that wasn’t enough, the repeated physical act of puckering your lips and dragging on a cigarette actually creates what are known as ‘dynamic wrinkles’; wrinkles caused by repeated actions.
If you are a heavy smoker, then you are crinkling your mouth unnaturally in the exact same manner every single time you go for another puff.
Couple this with the weakening of your skin caused by the chemicals present, and you may very well develop permanent and numerous lines around your lips.
Exposure To Sun
You may already be aware of some of the more serious afflictions which can arise from not appropriately protecting yourself from the sun. Know as well that skin damage associated with the sun is also a cause of wrinkles.
The thinner skin on our bodies is particularly sensitive to UV light and is easily damaged by the sun- this includes the skin around the mouth.
Make sure you’re extra thorough when applying sun-protection, moisturizers and After-Sun, and wear a hat. Studies have suggested that as much as 80% of visible aging occurs due to sun exposure.
How To Prevent Smoker’s Lines
Beyond staying healthy, there are some very simple tips and tricks to keeping your skin in top condition as you grow older. After all, prevention is the best treatment.
Exfoliate Your Face
Exfoliating is more than just about preventing spots and clogged pores: clearing your skin is actually one of the best ways to prevent wrinkles.
This even applies to those around your lips. General skin health should be adhered in every corner of your face, especially as you get older.
Be mindful though- there are plenty of substandard products out there that contain harsh chemicals which can wreak havoc on the more sensitive areas of your face.
Steer clear of the microbeads and look instead for facial treatments and exfoliators that contain organic materials and natural products, such as fruit-based acids and hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs).
These will be more gentle to your skin whilst still exfoliating your pores, and helping to contribute to healthier, cleaner skin which is less vulnerable to wrinkles.
Minimize Sun Exposure
We’ve said it before but we’re gonna go ahead and say it again- if only we could scream it:
There is nothing more damaging to your skin in daily life than UV light from the sun.
When exposing your skin to high amounts of sunlight, use a strong sunscreen on your skin and a SPF lip balm on your lips (obviously you can’t put normal sunscreen on your mouth).
Your lips have extraordinarily thin skin, and as anyone who has ever had sunburn on their lips will tell you, it’s a profoundly unpleasant experience.
This is especially true if you do have a daily skin routine that involves exfoliating- the acids present will make your skin more sensitive to UV light, meaning that failure to protect yourself will involve taking extra sun damage.
Be Mindful Of Facial Movements
This is a bit of an odd tip, but the fact is that it is the repetitive movement of your face that causes the wrinkles.
Obviously we’re not suggesting that you stop moving your face or smiling, or playing your favorite wind instruments just to avoid some wrinkles.
However, if you’re a fan of pouting your lips in group photos or one of the eight thousand selfies you take every day, then we have some bad news- that’s one of the strained movements that eventually leads to a few more lines around the mouth.
How To Get Rid Of Smokers’ Lines
If you already have lines developing around the mouth, here are some options:
- Enhanced moisturizing – it’s not too late to develop, or enhance your moisturizing routine. There are skin care products on the market which are much more extreme about hydrating specific areas of your face. These include a two week nightly application of silicon patches which aim to drastically hydrate the area around the mouth whilst you sleep.
- Chemical Peels – This procedure is basically a form of extreme exfoliation. There are milder versions available for home use, but there are also medical-grade cosmetic procedures available from dermatological clinics that do a more advanced job. These procedures can rid facial lines and wrinkles, but also clear scars, dark spots, and acne. Be prepared for some redness and skin irritation.
- Lip Fillers/Laser resurfacing – These are both very common cosmetic procedures. Lip fillers replicate the effect of collagen in the skin using over substances, whilst laser resurfacing triggers the body to create more collagen. Make sure you find a reputable practitioner for the best results- but prepare to pay for the privilege.