Your Lips Lose Plumpness As You Age, But You Can Help Them

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Every trip around the sun is a blessing, except for the whole aging skin phenomenon. Nothing — even your lips — is immune to the effects of time, shifting hormones, sun exposure, and gravity. That said, we're not exactly in the dark ages anymore, and new skincare products, regimens, and recommendations pop up all the time. So, it actually is possible to keep that kisser as plump as ever, with a few tricks and all-important preventative measures.


One of the main reasons that lips lose their luscious, youthful appearance is due to a natural (if unfortunate) reduction in elastin and collagen production in the body. These wonderful little proteins are what collectively give the skin (and therefore, the lips) their elasticity, plumpness, and overall strength. The process begins even earlier than most people think. In fact, starting at age 20 it's normal to lose around one percent of collagen every year!

Protect lips from sun exposure

Sun exposure is unquestionably bad for all areas of your skin. In addition to increasing cancer risk, harmful ultraviolet rays can also cause premature aging. Even those lucky ducks who don't burn, but tan, are actually experiencing sun damage. Thus, they're aging ever so slowly and unnecessarily. Starting right now, anytime you're outside wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, neck, and chest from harmful rays. From a lip-specific perspective, liberally and frequently apply a sunscreen/lip balm/lipstick with protective SPF included. Remember that lip products easily get wiped, sweated, or otherwise rubbed off, so stay on top of this all-important application to prevent future damage and hopefully mitigate some existing damage.


Excessive lip exposure to UV rays can even turn into a serious condition known as solar cheilitis, says family dentist Dr. Brandon Cooley. Someone with this problem could present with lips that are overly cracked, dry, or discolored, and may also have blisters or sores.

Stop smoking, like right now

Whether you're 20 or 75, you should go ahead and kick the habit of smoking (vaping included). You already know that it's terribly bad for you, what with all of the risks of various cancers, emphysema, heart disease, and so much more. However, even the skin pays a price for smoking and vaping. This is because repeated nicotine exposure harms elastin and collagen production, making skin unnecessarily saggy, yellow-toned, and even leathery in appearance.


One commonly dreaded side effect of vaping and smoking is smoker's lips. Characterized by vertical lines on and above the lips, smoker's lips are created thanks to constant, repeated pursing of the lips in order to take a drag. The heat from the cigarette makes matters even worse. Quitting smoking is the best way to prevent further damage to the lip area (not to mention the rest of the body). That, coupled with home or professional skin treatments, should reverse a good bit of the damage with some time and elbow grease.

Moisturize to the nth degree

Dryness, combined with lower levels of elastin and collagen, can make lips look more shriveled than they really have to be. The American Academy of Dermatology Association suggests that people dealing with weather or age-related dryness take a few extra measures to keep their kissers hydrated. First, use a lip balm or moisturizer frequently throughout the day and especially before going to bed. It if makes your lips tingle or burn, it's making matters worse, and a non-irritating replacement should be found. If dryness persists, use a humidifier at home while you sleep to ease the problem. For people who sleep with their mouths open, this handy small appliance could take the edge off the situation.


It's also critically important to drink a lot of water to keep the body and skin in general from drying out. One good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in fluid ounces every day (so, if you weigh 200 pounds, shoot for 100 ounces daily).

Splurge on lip-specific treatment products

If you're not seeing the results you want using a standard balm, it might be time to turn to a lip care product that packs a little more punch. There are plenty of serums out there that promise to plump and rejuvenate lips. For example, Lipsmart's Ultra-Hydrating Lip Treatment pledges healthier lips in as little as 60 seconds, thanks to its blend of ceramide and peptide, which the company asserts will inspire collagen production. At a higher price point is PCA Skin's ExLinea Peptide Smoothing Serum, which can treat wrinkles and fine lines on and around the lips, but can also be applied to the forehead and around the eyes. These are but two of the dozens, possibly hundreds of such products out there. If all else fails, many dermatologists offer injectable treatments to deliver more immediate and lasting results, although they will fade over time.