You used to be all smiles, all the time. But as you’ve gotten older, you’ve felt less and less smiley — and more and more self-conscious about your mouth.
One word: wrinkles.
Those lines and wrinkles around your mouth are often the first signs of aging to appear.
They’re also some of the biggest aging-related detriments to your self-esteem: 50% of women with concerns about aging said that they were primarily concerned about their mouth area.
So what’s the best way to get rid of mouth wrinkles? Read on to find out.
What Causes Mouth Wrinkles?
Most wrinkles, including mouth wrinkles, have the same root cause: a lack of collagen.
Collagen is a skin protein that’s responsible for making your skin hold its shape. It makes your skin firm, tight and supple, allowing it to resist being stretched out — and to return to its original position if it is stretched.
But starting in your 20s, your collagen production decreases at a rate of around 1% a year.
This rate skyrockets when you hit menopause: you lose 30% of your collagen during the first five years of menopause. After that, you’ll continue to lose around 2% a year.
Without collagen, your skin can’t support itself, so it begins to stretch out and succumb to gravity. This manifests in the form of wrinkles.
Areas with naturally thin skin, such as the eyes and mouth, wrinkle much earlier and more severely than other areas of the face. Thin skin already contains less collagen than thicker skin, so when collagen loss sets in, these areas are the first to show it.
What Causes Collagen Loss?
It’s normal for your skin to lose collagen as you age, but some factors can accelerate the process.
Sun exposure is one of the worst offenders. UV rays destroy collagen and impair your ability to produce more, causing rapid wrinkling and other signs of aging (in addition to DNA damage and skin cancer).
Poor diet and hydration also play a role. Without sufficient water and nutrition, your skin doesn’t have the energy to produce enough collagen, resulting in more wrinkles at a younger age.
Exposure to air pollutants like car exhaust, industrial fumes, smog and cigarette smoke also harm your collagen. Cigarettes also harm your skin from the inside out, constricting your blood vessels and depriving your skin cells of oxygen.
What Are the Different Types of Mouth Wrinkles?
Mouth wrinkles, also called perioral wrinkles, come in many different types. However, 3 in particular are common enough that they’ve been given their own names.
These are small vertical lines that form on and directly above your lips. They’re caused by frequent puckering of the lips, as occurs during lipstick application (hence the name) and cigarette smoking.
Marionette lines are vertical lines that extend from your mouth down to your chin, blocking off the area and visually separating it from the rest of your face. The result looks similar to a marionette’s movable bottom lip and chin, which gives these lines their name.
The most recognizable type of mouth wrinkles, laugh lines (or smile lines) appear on the sides of your mouth and extend upwards to your nose. Technically known as nasolabial folds, laugh lines may appear more prominent when you smile or laugh, though over time they become permanent.
How Do You Get Rid of Mouth Wrinkles Naturally?
Not inclined to slather chemicals on your face to get rid of wrinkles? You’re not alone — and you’re not out of luck.
Try these natural mouth wrinkle removal tricks to smooth out your mouth area and feel good about your smile again.
Essential oils are unlikely to completely eliminate your mouth wrinkles, but they can greatly reduce their appearance.
Try diluting one of these essential oils with jojoba oil or aloe, then apply it to your mouth wrinkles (avoiding your lips themselves).
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil contains antioxidants that neutralize collagen-destroying free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that form in response to UV rays, wounds and other skin damage.
Additionally, lavender accelerates healing, encouraging your skin to firm up those wrinkles and resist the development of new ones.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense essential oil increases cell turnover, which in turn reduces wrinkles.
Cell turnover refers to your skin’s process of shedding dead skin cells and replacing them with new, healthy ones. New skin cells hold their shape better, so they’re less likely to form wrinkles.
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon is known for its skin-brightening properties, but it’s also highly effective at preventing and reducing wrinkles. It’s high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that prevents wrinkles and other signs of aging caused by sun damage.
Plant-Based Cooking Oils
You may have some excellent mouth wrinkle treatments in your pantry right now.
Many plant-based cooking oils contain essential fatty acids, which are necessary for collagen production and cell function. With consistent use, they can make your skin firmer and tougher, eliminating wrinkles in the process.
Coconut oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil and castor oil are all recommended plant oils for mouth wrinkles. Apply one to your mouth and lips twice a day to get the most benefits.
What Professional Treatments Can Get Rid of Mouth Wrinkles?
Deeper, more permanent wrinkles may not go away without professional treatment. If you’re not seeing results from at-home remedies, or if you want a more hard-hitting solution, ask a dermatologist about these options.
Chemical peels are superpowered exfoliants that don’t just remove dead skin cells. They also remove the entire outer layer(s) of your skin, along with any blemishes, light scars, and wrinkles contained within.
They’re typically made from acids like glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid. Glycolic and lactic acid peels are especially effective at treating mouth wrinkles.
A dermatologist can analyze your wrinkles and determine the exact strength and formula of chemical peel you need. Depending on the severity of your wrinkles, you may need multiple chemical peels spaced a month apart to see results.
Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion
Another type of professional exfoliation takes a more physical approach. Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion involve the use of special tools to remove the outer layer(s) of your skin.
Microdermabrasion is less intensive and is recommended for more shallow wrinkles. A diamond-tipped tool or tiny crystal particles are used to erode your outermost layer of skin.
Dermabrasion is recommended for deeper wrinkles. Multiple layers of skin are removed with a rotating brush, so wrinkles can be removed even if they extend further down into the skin.
At-home dermabrasion and microdermabrasion devices are available, but if you’re trying to get rid of mouth wrinkles, you should consult a dermatologist first. A professional can tell you what level of treatment you need and ensure that the delicate skin around your mouth doesn’t get damaged.
What if, instead of removing your wrinkled skin, you could smooth your wrinkles from the inside out?
Microneedling allows you to do just that. During the procedure, a device tipped with tiny needles is run over your skin, creating very small puncture wounds.
Your skin produces collagen in response to being wounded, so these holes heal up quickly. But that extra collagen also gets put to work smoothing out your wrinkles, and the effects are long-lasting.
Microneedling is best performed by a professional, as it can be painful and there are risks of side effects, including infection and persistent redness. Multiple sessions spread out over several months are typically required before results are noticeable.
Very deep, permanent mouth wrinkles may not respond to the aforementioned treatments. In such cases, dermal fillers may be your best option.
Dermal fillers are injectable solutions typically made from hyaluronic acid. They fill out your wrinkled skin, acting as stuffing that smooths out your wrinkles and makes your skin look more plump.
A dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon will need to inject your dermal fillers, which can be costly: anywhere from $600 to $1,500, depending on your location and chosen provider.
However, they typically last between 6 and 18 months, so overall, they’re around as expensive as other professional wrinkle treatments that need to be performed more often.
LED Light Therapy
LED light isn’t just for lamps and electronics. It’s recently been harnessed as a way to combat the signs of aging, including mouth wrinkles.
During LED light therapy, special wavelengths of light are applied to your skin. Wrinkle therapy usually uses red or infrared light, which penetrates deeper into your skin than other wavelengths.
The light stimulates collagen production, increasing your skin’s firmness and smoothness over time. It also improves circulation so your cells become more active, turning over faster and further reducing your wrinkles.
If you opt for professional LED light therapy, expect to undergo around 10 20-minute sessions spaced around a week apart. The treatment is painless and carries very little risk of side effects (though temporary redness and tenderness may occur).
At-home LED light therapy devices are also available, though they tend to be less powerful than professional devices and thus require more frequent use over longer periods of time. However, they’re much cheaper and more convenient than professional treatment.