The Best Ways To Target And Lessen Wrinkles Above Your Lips

As much as it's a privilege to grow old, as time starts to take its toll it's easy to feel self-conscious about the process. Grey and white hairs may be stunning, but not everyone is ready to throw out the dye right away, just like not everyone is ready to accept their wrinkles. Luckily we live in a time where products and dermatological treatments can help minimize or even erase fine lines, furrows, and facial creases. Even those pesky wrinkles above your upper lip.

"Lips get their shape in part from collagen, and as we age, we produce less of it," dermatopathologist Gretchen Frieling tells Good Housekeeping. "UV damage, genetics, and lifestyle factors such as smoking can also be culprits," she adds. In other words, when you have genes and external forces against you, trying to completely dodge wrinkles may not be possible. Although wrinkles are proof of a long life that's experienced all the ups and downs that come with the human condition, you don't have to love them. You don't even have to like them. Instead, you can take steps to manage them and even eliminate these wrinkles above your lips altogether if that's something you want to do.

Avoid using straws

Put. The. Straw. Down. Now. Straws are great for not messing up lipstick and minimizing how long liquids that stain enamel, like coffee, tea, and red wine, stay in your mouth, but beyond that they're a no-no. Yes, they serve a purpose and do make some beverages — especially in the summer — tastier, but that puckering isn't doing your mouth any favors. Puckering up your lips to suck in through a straw is just adding to whatever upper lip wrinkles you already have and ushering in new ones.

"When you use straws, you're pursing your lips repeatedly, leading to the appearance of perioral wrinkles earlier," board-certified dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali tells Allure. This pursing is the same thing you do every time you take a drag of a cigarette or even when you pucker up to take a sip from a water bottle. While you may not like drinking your iced coffee sans a straw, it's something you may want to consider at least cutting down on a bit. According to a 2009 study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, perioral wrinkles are more common (and deeper!) in women. So if you have a vulva and your mom or grandmother have perioral wrinkles, it's in your genes, meaning straw use is quickening the arrival of those upper lip creases.

Always use SPF

SPF is always important. In fact, medical professionals advise that you not only never leave the house without putting on sunscreen, but you should even wear it inside every day too. "While glass blocks UVB rays, UVA rays can still penetrate," board-certified dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson tells Real Simple. "UVA rays are primarily known for their role in accelerating the signs of aging by breaking down elastin and collagen, but they also damage DNA in skin cells, producing mutations that can lead to skin cancer," she says. 

Anything that helps to keep collagen levels intact is essential in the battle against wrinkles, no matter where they happen to be on your body. But particularly exposed parts of the skin, like the face and hands, need some extra attention to prevent the loss of collagen. Wearing liberally applied facial moisturizers (especially around that mouth!) that contain SPF — as well as lip balms with SPF — is the way to go. If you haven't gotten on the 24/7 SPF train, the time is now.

Exfoliate the upper lip skin

If you're not exfoliating your entire epidermis, you're missing out on having the best skin you can possibly have — but you'll want to make sure that you're properly exfoliating according to your skin type. Although the skin renews itself regularly, according to a 2022 study published in InformedHealth, that renewal process takes about four weeks. But if you exfoliate a couple times a week, you're making room for new cells more often which leads to noticeably healthier and wrinkle-diminished skin. "[Dead skin cells] can result in excess oil and clogged pores, leading to blemishes and acne," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad tells Cosmopolitan. "Proper exfoliation removes the barrier of dead skin cells clogging the skin and uncovers fresh new cells below."

Once those new cells are exposed around your mouth thanks to exfoliation, your lips will look plumper and the appearance of wrinkles will be lessened, per ColoreScience. Dry skin can make wrinkles more apparent — something we tend to only notice after we give our skin a good scrub. Making exfoliation a regular part of your beauty and self-care routine is one of the smartest things you can do.

Get as much collagen into your body as you can

Although there's no such thing as finding the fountain of youth in a bottle, collagen products come pretty darn close. According to 2022 study published in Dermatology Practical & Conceptual, collagen supplements when taken orally and/or creams when used topically have long-term positive effects on the skin. Collagen improves elasticity and moisture, per Harvard Health, therefore reducing dryness and wrinkles.

As the Dermatology Practical & Conceptual study found, collagen contains peptides that are made up of amino acids, which allows collagen to protect the skin so fiercely that it doesn't just delay the results of aging, but can also play a part in the reversal of skin that has already aged. While you can get your daily collagen intake for your upper lip wrinkles via oral supplements or topical methods like serums and creams, you can also try microneedling. This treatment creates very small cuts in the epidermis which forces it to rebuild the wounds with new, collagen-rich skin, per BeautyBio. In addition to erasing the appearance of upper lip wrinkles, another benefit of microneedling is it can plump up your lips, giving your mouth that pouty look if that's something you desire.

Massage your upper lip with oils

According to Healthline, some essential oils, when used regularly, help in skin repair which can lead to increased firmness and more elasticity. However, this doesn't mean you can reach for whatever oil you happen to have hanging around and slather it all over your upper lip. You want to use oils that actually have the necessary properties to do the job. 

For example, frankincense is a good choice because it aids in cell renewal. Lemon and lavender, thanks to their antioxidative properties, are also a great option, as is sandalwood because it helps fight inflammation. These oils, when diluted with carrier oils, can be applied to the mouth area, per Healthline. According to various research published by Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute, using oils that are rich in fatty acids, like flaxseed and primrose, can also help in decreasing the appearance of upper lip wrinkles.

Go the cosmetic treatment route

There are a lot of treatments that won't just lessen the wrinkles above your lip — they can make those lines almost entirely disappear. Injectables, like hyaluronic acid-based fillers, are one of the most common remedies for perioral wrinkles. "Upper lip lines — vertical lip lines — are very difficult to treat, and when you survey most women it's near the top of their hit parade of things they dislike the most," dermatologist Jeffrey Dover tells Dermatology Times. "Fillers work, but it's painful... and it doesn't last that long. It works well in conjunction with neuromodulators and when lip lines are fine, but it's doing nothing to actually reverse the cause."

While fillers remain popular, Dr. Dover and his colleagues have also found good results in the OMAR approach. This involves thousands of tiny holes being made in the skin of the upper lip which are filled with Poly-L-Lactic Acid (PLLA). PLLA stimulates the production of collagen, decreasing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. "So far, we've seen improvement in 100% of patients," says Dr. Dover. "... For the most part all patients are pleased with the improvement and there have been no long-term side effects." But if fillers and thousands of tiny holes in your skin sound too intense, Botox is another injectable option that can be used to paralyze the upper lip muscles, preventing further wrinkles. Talk to your dermatologist about your concerns and they'll find you the right treatment. Then you can kiss those wrinkles au revoir.