How to Get Rid of Smoker Lips
Once upon a time, smoking was portrayed on television and movies as glamorous. Beautiful movie stars like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Barbara Streisand were often shown lazing around in elegant attire with a cigarette in hand, reveling in the cloud of smoke swirling delicately around their heads. Commercials used to even promote smoking as a way to improve your health.
Not only do you not get healthier or turn into a gorgeous Hollywood star as a result of smoking, but you actually age faster as a smoker than you would as a non-smoker. Smoking contributes to sallow, yellow-gray skin and tiny wrinkles around the mouth. Whether you’re new to smoking, a long-time smoker, or a recent quitter, smoking has a way of leaving its mark on your fragile skin.
We’ll go into detail below about why this happens and how you can take care of the problem with smoker’s wrinkle treatments.
- What Are Smoker’s Lines and What Causes Them?
- When Do Smoker’s Lines Start to Appear?
- How to Get Rid of Wrinkles Around the Mouth From Smoking
- An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
- How to Make Lip Lines Less Noticeable
What Are Smoker’s Lines and What Causes Them?
The skin around your lips is very delicate and vulnerable. Taking a drag on a cigarette and breathing in its toxic chemicals causes lip lines known as smoker’s lines. These are the small vertical lines that form around the perimeter of the lips.
If you’ve developed smoking lines and have never smoked a day in your life, understand that these lines can also form with the repetitive motion of puckering to drink through a straw, brushing your teeth, whistling, and so on. As your skin ages, it loses its ability to rebound from these actions, and the wrinkles left behind become a permanent feature of your face.
What’s more, the free radicals from tobacco products keep the skin from repairing itself. Carbon monoxide and nicotine in cigarettes dry out the skin and inhibit collagen and elastin production, making it even easier for your skin to wrinkle permanently. Smoking also restricts the flow of blood to the skin, which starves it of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to stay looking young.
[Source: Impact of Smoking and Alcohol Use on Facial Aging in Women: Results of a Large Multinational, Multiracial, Cross-sectional Survey (nih.gov)]
Vaping’s chemical impact on the development of lip lines has not been studied enough yet to draw conclusions. However, it is likely that vaping causes at least some damage to the skin around the lips given that nicotine, one of the harmful chemicals in cigarettes, also is in e-cigarettes.
One doesn’t have to smoke to see the effects of it on the skin. Even the heat from cigarette smoke that has not been inhaled can damage the skin’s surface.
[Source: Smoking: Does it cause wrinkles? - Mayo Clinic]
Other Causes of Smoker’s Lines
There are some cases in which smoker lines aren’t caused by any combination of repetitive motion, chemicals, or heat from smoking. They can also be the result of:
- Sun damage
- Upper-lip wax treatments
- Weight loss
When Do Smoker’s Lines Start to Appear?
While lip lines don’t usually appear in non-smokers until later in life, they can appear in young smokers much earlier on. Young and middle-aged smokers can look years older than their actual ages due to the presence of vertical lip lines around the mouth. Smokers will also see their skin change in tone and color over time. Even if you’ve quit the habit, it can leave the lines behind.
How to Get Rid of Wrinkles Around the Mouth From Smoking
Natural Skin Health Remedies for Smokers
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on skin care products or you simply prefer to try natural remedies first, here are a few that can help you counteract the aging effects of smoking.
- Hanging your head upside down: It sounds unorthodox — but trust us. Lay down backwards on your bed and allow your head to hang down over the edge. Do this for at least three minutes per day. This simple action will encourage blood flow to the skin around your mouth, counteracting the blood-depleting effects of smoking on your face.
- Essential oils: Many essential oils (such as ginseng, peppermint, and rosemary) contain vasodilators, which promote optimal blood flow to the face. Try adding a few drops of your favorite one to your daily moisturizer so your skin gets the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and supple.
- Antioxidants: Smoking creates a lot of free radicals in the body, which are damaging to the skin. Include lots of antioxidant-rich foods in your diet to balance the effects. Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits are great additions for your skin health.
- Exercise: Working out several times a week will increase the flow of blood to your organs, including your skin. It’s recommended to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
- Sleep: While you sleep, your body performs many healing processes — one of which includes skin restoration. Get at least seven hours of sleep per night so your body has enough time for this critical function.
- Water: The importance of drinking water can’t be overstated. Your skin is approximately 64% water — well over half of its content! If you allow your body to dehydrate, your skin will show some of the first signs of dehydration, especially in your face.
Topical Skin Care for Smoker’s Lip Lines
One of the pillars for treating smoker’s lines is to fight the free-radical damage that causes them with nourishing and rejuvenating topicals. These topicals should go beyond hydration. In order to have an impact on smoker’s lines, they need to stimulate collagen production and encourage cell turnover.
Skin care ingredients, including peptides and antioxidants like vitamin C, fight oxidative stress related to environmental exposures (like those from smoking). Other important skin care ingredients, such as niacinamide, play a key role in skin immunology, barrier function, pigmentation, and more. Perhaps more important, however, are defensins. This ingredient targets dormant cells and prompts them to produce new skin cells for anti-aging purposes. Defensins are one of the key ingredients in the DefenAge anti-aging skin care line.
[Source: The DefenAge article for Dermatology Times. Dr. Bucay said something similar to this.]
In-Office Skin Treatments
Skin care treatments, as well as injectables done in a dermatologist’s or plastic surgeon’s office, can help reduce the wrinkling effects of smoking by diminishing the appearance of a smoker’s vertical lines and wrinkles around the mouth. These are usually a last resort when preventative care, natural remedies, and skin care products do not produce the desired results.
An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
When it comes to smoking, the impacts are fast and permanent — which is why the best treatment for smoker’s lines around the mouth is prevention.
Perhaps one of the most effective preventative measures for smokers and former smokers is using a moisturizer. Those who diligently use daily moisturizers, sunscreens, and skin care products aimed at rejuvenation can keep the skin around their mouths looking young for longer. Dermatologists recommend these skin hydrating tips, which can be applied to skin surrounding the lips:
- Choose a product that is an ointment or cream, as lotions tend to be more irritating.
- Look for a topical skin care product that includes ingredients like jojoba oil, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, or shea butter, to name a few.
- Avoid products containing alcohol, fragrance, or retinoids, which can be irritating to skin around the mouth and lips. [Source: Dermatologists' top tips for relieving dry skin (aad.org)]
Additional Tips for Keeping Smoker’s Lines Away
- Apply daily sunscreen and reapply it when needed
- Cut back on daily cigarettes or quit altogether
- Add vitamins to your diet
- Be mindful of your facial movements
- Minimize sun exposure
- Exfoliate regularly
How to Make Lip Lines Less Noticeable
Getting rid of smoker’s lines is a slow and gradual process with most skin care products and natural remedies. If they cause you to feel self-conscious, you can mask them with makeup until they’re less noticeable.
Start with a hydrating face cream containing SPF to plump and prime your lip lines. Allow this to dry and then swipe a waxy hydrating lip balm over your lips. Then, use a pea-sized amount of lip primer to fill in the lines and finish the look with a liquid lipstick once the primer dries. Liquid lipstick doesn’t cake itself into the lip lines like traditional lipstick does.
Looking for other tips on how to get rid of lip wrinkles from smoking? Visit the DefenAge blog for more expert skin care advice that’s backed by science!