Let’s talk about a specific type of wrinkles. The dreadful smokers’ lines (or lip lines), that show up as vertical lines above your upper lip.
Most people get them with age. And they usually start to appear when people are in their 40s. But for some, these lines are not present until decades later. While for others, they can start to develop as fine lines already in someone’s 30s or even 20s.
This post will explain why you get them. How to prevent them. How to treat them most efficiently if they are already present. And what expectations to have.
This is what I’ll cover:
- Why do you get smokers lines?
- How to prevent lip lines from forming
- Best treatment for smokers lines
*Please note, this post contains affiliate links, and I may receive a small commission if you purchase through any of those links. It doesn’t cost you any extra and I only recommend products I truly love and use myself. You can read my full disclosure here.
Why do you get smokers lines?
Smokers lines are a very typical kind of wrinkles (or lines). And the main reason they form is due to a lack of collagen and elastin. These are the two proteins that give firmness and structure to the skin.
As we age, the production of collagen and elastin decreases. And same goes for hyaluronic acid (which also helps with the bounciness of the skin).
And as if that isn’t enough, we also produce less and less of our body-made antioxidants. Those that help protect from things that accelerate aging even more (sunlight, pollution, stress, etc).
The equation of age, UV-rays, stress, etc, will contribute to less elastic skin. And contribute to any wrinkles in your face. Lip pursing can therefore cause permanent lines due to the lack of elasticity.
Now, this does not mean the route has to be completely downhill just because you get older. And there are many ways to keep your collagen and elastin at good levels even as you age. The next section will explain more.
How to prevent lip lines from forming
To prevent smokers lines you will have to work on the overall health and elasticity of your skin. It’s the lack of collagen and elastin that is causing these wrinkles. Repetitive lip pursing contributes too but is secondary. The elasticity is what counts.
This list will help you prevent smokers lines:
It’s obvious of course. Not just does smoking cause unnecessary lip pursing. But even worse, it is one of the top-killers of healthy skin tissue.
By smoking, you’ll accelerate your skin’s aging process dramatically. And this is due to the many toxins that are found in cigarettes. And actually, nicotine itself is a big contributor to skin aging since it reduces blood flow and delivery of nutrients to the skin.
Wear sunscreen – a lot!
Nothing ages your skin more than UV-rays. So wear your sunscreen every day, even when it’s cloudy or winter. My post about why you need sunscreen every day of the year will explain more.
Also, make sure to reapply. The area above your lip is often neglected, plus it is a common place to sweat and therefore lose a lot of the sun protection you applied.
I recommend Elta MD sports sun protection if you live in the US. And EVY daily defense if you live in Europe. Both are water-resistant and give great protection from not just UVB, but also UVA-rays that ages your skin the most.
Get your sleep
Sleep deprivation will make your skin lose collagen and elastin more rapidly. So make sure you prioritize your beauty sleep.
This post explains in more detail what sleep does to your skin. And gives a lot of tips on how to improve your quality of sleep.
Get your nutrition
You need to get enough of all the nutritions that are so important for the skin. This means getting enough protein, the right fatty acids, all the vitamins, and minerals, and lots of antioxidants.
My post about foods that help tighten skin will explain more about how to eat. And give you a plan for improving your skin with diet.
I am a huge fan of microcurrent. A technology that uses a very low-level current to stimulate your muscles and skin cells. And promotes the production of collagen and elastin.
If used consistently over time, microcurrent will improve your skin in so many ways. This blog post explains more.
Incorporate good skincare
Having a good skincare routine will be helpful for your skin too. Sunscreen is the single most important cream to use, as mentioned above. And adding a retinol serum at nighttime will be another good idea to help to keep the skin at its best.
The downside with retinol products is that they are often very irritating. Especially if you have sensitive skin. So make sure to start slowly.
I have a post about retinol, and the only serum that my skin tolerates (I am ultra-sensitive). It will give you a lot of great tips regarding retinol in general!
If you want an alternative to retinol, I highly recommend my new favorite product with Bakuchiol. This post will explain what Bakuchiol is and what product I started using when I got pregnant.
An antioxidant serum, such as this one, is also a good idea to wear during the day.
Best treatment for smokers lines
So, what to do if you have those smokers lip lines present already?
Well, first of all, start with doing the steps explained in the section above. Especially the three first ones.
Be as dedicated as you possibly can. Not just for preventing that the wrinkles get worse. But also to give the treatments mentioned below a chance to do their best. This is just so important, but very often disregarded.
I’m gonna mention this amazing technology once more. Since it has the ability to improve your skin texture if used consistently over time.
Microcurrent increases ATP in your cells, which boosts your production of collagen and elastin and helps with fine lines and wrinkles.
But this takes time. And depending on the depth of your wrinkles this may or may not be the best solution for you to rely on.
Either way, it’s a fantastic way to be preventative and to help stop the wrinkles from forming or getting worse. So I warmly recommend a home device to use often.
There are several devices to choose from. But the one I recommend especially for the lip area is the ZIIP. It has a few great programs that you can use on the lips and around your mouth (vital eyes, primer, and sensitive energize for those of you who already have this device). And it is very relaxing to do.
If you are interested in getting your own ZIIP I have a discount code for 20 % off if you live in the US. Simply use the code ‘ziipwithann’ on the official ZIIP beauty website, and you’ll get almost 100 $ off.
If you live in Europe I recommend Cultbeauty. They have free shipping (and free duty costs) to all of Europe. And they give you 10 % off on your first order.
I also recommend you to see my post about the ZIIP to learn more details about what this device can do.
Laser resurfacing has the purpose of improving facial wrinkles around the eyes, mouth, or forehead. And has been used for many years for facial rejuvenation.
This is the kind of treatment that most doctors seem to recommend for reducing lip lines that are already present. And CO2 lasers are the most common ones used for this concern.
The purpose is to stimulate new collagen, which continues to increase months after the procedure. Results show after around 6 months.
Lasers do not come without risks though. Such as discoloration or scarring. And the risk is higher with the more aggressive ablative form (which removes the epidermal layer).
It’s also good to know that the recovery time after this kind of treatment can be anywhere from 10 days to several weeks. And sometimes even longer before all redness completely disappears.
The gentler non-ablative laser allows for quicker healing time. But many doctors mean the harsher ablative laser is more effective for deep wrinkles.
Despite what laser treatment you choose, results take time (6 months) and you might need several treatments.
Other skin resurfacing methods
IPL (intense pulsed light) and chemical peels are milder forms of skin resurfacing treatments that might be recommended if your lines are shallow. But if your lines are more pronounced, they will probably not do much.
And know that these methods can have side effects too. Even though the risks are smaller, and recovery time faster.
Microneedling, often combined with platelet-rich plasma (PRP), is another method that can be recommended for improving lip lines. It will probably be best suited for shallow lines and must be performed several times.
Tretinoin is the most potent and definitely the most proven skincare ingredient to fight skin aging (by increasing cell-turnover and increase production of collagen). And many people witness having success with their smokers line after using tretinoin consistently.
Topical tretinoin is a prescription-strength vitamin A derivative. In either a cream form or gel form. And it’s prescribed for mild to moderate acne as well as hyperpigmentation and fine lines and wrinkles.
The most common brand in the US is Retin-A (and Retin-A Micro). But other brand names are for example Renova, Avita, and Atralin.
It takes about 6 months to start seeing improvement (yes, collagen takes time). And you need to use the cream/gel regularly for it to work. Many people use it year after year to improve their skin texture. But it’s important to know that this cream/gel does not come without side effects.
In the beginning (weeks or months) you will experience side effects such as excessive dryness, flaking, and sometimes even a worsen acne. You, therefore, need to start very slowly and gradually build up your tolerance. Which a good dermatologist will instruct you on.
Some people though, I included, will never be able to tolerate this ingredient.
Retinol is a milder derivative of vitamin A that causes fewer side effects and is sold over the counter. It can still be very strong especially if you are sensitive. So personally there is only one serum that I have been able to tolerate well. This post explains which one. And a lot of other good information about retinol.
Dermal filler (such as Restylane or Juvederm fillers) or Botox (or another neurotoxin) are also common non-surgical procedures for smokes lines. But they only give a temporary solution and also comes with many risks and side effects.
I personally do not recommend those methods.
- The best way to prevent smokers lines is to keep your skin as elastic as possible. Use sunscreen every single day, never smoke, eat a skin-healthy diet, and get your beauty sleep.
- Another method to increase elasticity is to use microcurrent consistently. That will help increase the production of collagen and elastin. And give your skin a better complexion long-term.
- If your lines or wrinkles are already present, it is even more important to keep up a strict regimen with sunscreen, diet, and sleep. To prevent them from getting worse. And also to allow any treatments to work their best and give you result.
- The treatments that seem to be most effective for treating smokers lines are laser resurfacing and tretinoin cream/gel. Both methods take around 6 months to show results. And they do come with side effects.
Hope you’ve found this information useful. And that you feel inspired to start taking even better care of your skin. Prevention is always the best treatment. A lifelong commitment, but so worth it.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any experience of your own regarding smokers lines. Or if you have any questions.
Also, I highly recommend that you check out my post about nasolabial folds and marionette lines, if you want to learn even more about facial aging. Those will explain other kinds of aging issues that are caused by more than just a lack of collagen and elastin. And give you a guide on how to prevent and treat those concerns.
Until next time, love your skin!