It is a cruel joke that just when everything else thickens, your lips thin. (When was the last time someone tried to sell you a hip plumper?) "Skin loses collagen, which causes fine lines. Years of kissing, pouting and talking also contribute to wrinkling," says Deborah Sarnoff , MD, associate professor at New York University Medical Center. Here’s what you can do.
- First do no harm. Smoking and too much sun speed up the aging process of the skin around your mouth. Quit smoking, and use a sunblock with a high SPF.
- Slough it off. "Exfoliation can help minimize dryness and the appearance of fine lines," Christine Rodgers, MD, a Denver-based plastic surgeon, says. For the skin around your mouth, she recommends a product with fine granules or AHAs. Look for a gentle grainy scrub like ROC Multi-Correxion Exfoliating Cleanser ($10). Follow with a rich lip balm. (Vaseline works too.)
- Rebuild collagen. To plump the skin around lips, Rodgers recommends prescription Renova or a nonprescription serum with retinoids or peptides. Try Caudalie’s Anti-Aging Serum for Eyes and Lips ($70).
- Fill ‘er up. "One of my patients calls the lines above her mouth her bar codes," Sarnoff says about those crevices where lipstick can form track marks. A line filler used before moisturizer will create a smoother surface. Try celebrity derm Pat Wexler’s No Injection Instant Line Filler for Lips and Eyes ($18).
- Plump is good. The first wave of plumpers could burn, but the latest are gentler and come with built-in color.
- Don’t draw outside the line. Makeup maven Trish McEvoy says she uses primer not only on lips but also on the skin above the mouth, to keep color from bleeding. "When using a lip liner," McEvoy adds, "don’t try to draw bigger lips for yourself — it always looks fake."
- Shine on. "Avoid matte or dark lip color; it just draws attention where you don’t want it," McEvoy says. "Instead, apply a touch of gloss. For a fuller look, concentrate the shine on the center of your mouth. Peach tones flatter all skin tones."
- Talk, smile, kiss. Lines be damned, you’ve come too far not to mouth off a little!
Originally published in MORE magazine, October 2008.