What Causes Thinning Lips?

It's no secret full lips are in, and it seems everyone wants in on the action. If you're blessed with gorgeous, plump lips, you probably naturally produce a lot of collagen, the most prevalent protein found in our body (it makes up 30% of our overall amount), according to the Cleveland Clinic. Its purpose is to strengthen and support our skin, bones, muscles, and other connective tissues, including the lips. Because our lips are created from connective tissue and striated muscle, as outlined in this 1986 study published in Cutis, they heavily rely on collagen to give them their soft, plump look and feel.


Unfortunately for some of us, those full lips don't last forever. So, what gives? If we have enough collagen in our body to create them, what causes them to thin? It's an issue many of us face, but there is an answer. If you find yourself struggling with thinning lips, here's what's going on.

Aging causes thinning lips

Getting older, our bodies change — lips included. According to Sk:n, as we age, the collagen in our lips begins to disintegrate, which ultimately affects the muscles as well. They eventually wear out, causing our lips to thin. But that's not all — we have our facial fat pads to worry about as well. These are subcutaneous fat cells that are densely packed together under the skin. Their job is to create a supportive cushion for the muscles in our face, Meliór explains. They deplete over time, which ultimately results in thinner lips.


Not only do our lips thin and flatten, but wrinkles may start forming in that area as well.

It's a common occurrence (namely in women), but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. Major sun exposure can also significantly cause lip thinning as well, so if you spend a good amount of time in the sun, Healthline encourages you to protect your lips with an SPF lip balm. If you're a smoker, you might consider quitting, as smoking cigarettes is also linked to flat lips and wrinkles.

What to do about thinning lips

To combat your thinning lips, you may consider fillers or other medical procedures. However, if you aren't interested in going down that route, there are natural remedies to achieve the look of fuller lips. MasterClass says one of the easiest ways to prevent the appearance of thin lips is just by drinking water. Being dehydrated does your lips a huge disservice, making them look thin, dry, and cracked — the opposite of what you want (it's important to note this won't reverse the effects of lip thinning; it's simply a method to give your lips an overall fuller pout). You can also use a lip gloss to keep your lips hydrated.


If you still aren't satisfied with your lips and need a quick fix, reach for a lip liner, lipstick, and gloss. Slightly overdrawing your lips can give them an automatic volume boost, says Ipsy. The trick here is to use less product than you think. Going too heavy on the liner risks stepping into clown territory. Layering gloss on top of the liner and lipstick will really give your lips dimension and volume, so be sure you don't skip it!