"I am in my mid 50's and started noticing tons of wrinkles on my top upper lips. Does that have to do with my lipstick, my lipliner? My age? Do you have any products to "smooth" out the skin?" Judy, Y - Calgary
Great question Judy and you're definitely not the only one of us out there wondering this!
Certain areas on our bodies show the signs of living faster than others. Body parts where skin is thinner and constantly exposed to the elements take the brunt of this accelerated ‘aging’. We primarily notice this with our faces, necks, upper chest and backs of our hands.
When we’re considering the skin around our upper lips getting tons of wrinkles what is happening here and is there anything that we can do about it?
Like everything in life it’s not just one simple cause or one simple ‘fix’ - I wish, wouldn’t that be so lovely and simple?
Environmental factors at play: our upper lips jut out more from our faces and therefore are catching more of the sun’s uv rays. These uv rays damage the collagen and elastin in our skin causing it to wrinkle.
Diet and lifestyle factors at play: how well hydrated we stay can help to keep skin plump and therefor help to plump up lips. Repeated movement of the muscles around the lips, especially pursing the lips around small objects such as cigarettes or straws, or perhaps having the unconscious habit of pursing your lips (I do this a lot, I catch myself in a kind of semi pursed pout all the time, not great for upper lip wrinkles, I consciously have to tell my face to relax).
Body changes factors at play: our body fat shifts around as we age and it’s common to loose plumpness in our faces, including our lips. Muscle tone also can become more lax so our faces (sigh) sag more. I’m very curious about facial toning exercises. I’ve done some reading on them and play around with doing them at random times but haven’t adopted a consistent routine around it, but I think it seems reasonably logical (my opinion is NOT a medical opinion so please take what I say with a big dose of applying your own common sense and always do what works best for you.). With age our natural proteins in our skin that hold plumpness and shape (collagen and elastin) also are less abundant and less effective so the scaffolding of the skin starts to collapse (lovely I know).
Makeup and beauty product choices at play: this is where we can perhaps be inadvertently making choices that make the wrinkles around our lips (and on the rest of our faces) appear worse than they really are. Bone dry, parched skin and chapped lips is always going to look wrinkled even on the youngest of faces. Very dry, matte lipsticks and pencils can make wrinkles look more pronounced. And choices around what sorts of foundations you’re using and how you’re applying them will also make wrinkles look more or less noticeable.
So what are some practical tips to help smooth out the skin?
Environmental tips: start wearing sunscreen every day and wear hats when you’re outside for any extended period of time. Avoid intentional sun tanning, especially on your face.
Diet and lifestyle tips: stay hydrated, especially if you live in really dry climates! Don’t do repeated motions that cause pursed lips. Lots of big smiles are great not only for mood but also to help strengthen the muscles that support the mouth area.
Skin care and cosmetic treatment tips: Make sure you’re using some sort of mild exfoliation once to several times a week to help slough away dead dry skin that can be making the wrinkles look more pronounced than they truly are.
Consider using skin care with active ingredients. The research around what active ingredients to use is a moving target and is beyond the scope of this book but I will say that Retinol (Vitamin A) products, though potentially irritating, seem to have some of the most solid proof behind them to actually help rebuild the proteins on the skin and therefore help to restore a smoother, more radiant surface to the skin. Please find a qualified skin care expert you trust to help you select your personalized skin care products.
What about more involved cosmetic procedures? Some people will opt to have their lips cosmetically enhanced with fillers. This is a very personal choice to make and the options involved here need to be discussed with a trusted, qualified injector. I will say personally to tread slowly here, it’s easy to get carried away and loose sight of what looks beautiful and natural. There’s no right or wrong choices, it’s about what you think looks best however in my personal approach to beauty less is usually more. There are also laser treatments that can help to remove deeper layers of the wrinkled skin and go to work on improving the actual structure of the skin. I have no personal experience with these laser treatments as of yet but I remain open to the idea of exploring them at some point.
Make sure you’re using moisturizers on the face and the lips. I’m personally constantly putting Lip Balm on to help smooth my lips and help to seal in the plump moist feeling that not only feels fantastic but also looks best. Same thing with moisturizers. Make sure you’re locking in hydrated (moist) skin with a good moisturizer, this will help to keep everything as plump looking as possible.
Makeup Tips: Often the wrinkled skin around the upper lip line can become red causing the wrinkles to be more noticeable and to loose the clear definition of where lips begin and regular skin ends. A tip to help reduce the appearance of this is to use a sheer foundation with a Foundation Brush and carefully apply it around your mouth area even if you’re opting to not use foundations anywhere on your face. As you’re applying the foundation over any wrinkled areas make sure to really smooth that skin out and use a good foundation brush so the product blends perfectly into the depth of each crease. What you do not ever want is foundation skimming only over the surface of wrinkles (and same concept applies to pores) and not getting fully blended into the skin. The contrast of lighter skin on top and no foundation pushed all the way into the wrinkle will make it appear to be way deeper than it actually is. It’s an optical illusion to be avoided at all costs!
And then when it comes time to actually choosing your lipstick and lip pencil shades there’s no real rules to follow here when it comes to wrinkles per se. If your overall lips are small and you’d like to increase the perceived volume of them use lighter glossier shades. Watch how glossy your products are however as you may find the really liquid glosses want to feather and travel along the lip wrinkles. This can be managed by using the foundation around the border of the lips and also by using a lip pencil to further create a barrier between the lip product and the lip wrinkles. A nice sharp beautifully defined lip using a well sharpened lip pencil can also go a long way to helping to minimize the appearance of lip wrinkles by creating a nice crisp border around the lips.
One last tip is to consider using a Lip Brush. This will allow you greater control in the thickness of how your product goes on and also how blended or crisp you'd like the edges of your lips to appear.