3 Tips for Fighting Thinning Lips

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Women putting on lip balm

When we reach a certain age, we know what to expect: a few forehead wrinkles, crow’s feet, laugh lines, circles under the eyes—these changes occur when we lose collagen and elastin in our skin over time. But did you know that this process also causes our lips to thin? In fact, our lips start slowly losing thickness after the age of 16! And over the next 20 or 30 years, the loss of collagen also causes the V-shape of our upper lips to flatten, while the corners of our mouths slightly turn down.

Our lips are a big part of our facial aesthetic; every woman knows that even just a quick swipe of lipstick can brighten her whole face. So what can we do to combat the inevitable decline of our lips?

Tip No. 1: Be Proactive

First, let’s talk about what NOT to do. Protect your lips by avoiding harmful activities that can cause premature aging and irreparable damage. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about a plan to quit. And don’t forget your lips when you apply sunscreen—pick up a lip balm with at least 15 SPF and make sure to reapply every two hours. Keep your lips from drying out by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, and apply a lip moisturizer to chapped lips. Look for a product with a base of paraffin, beeswax, or petroleum jelly, since they seal in moisture and evaporate slowly. Make sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet and stay away from too much sugar and processed foods. Sense a theme? Habits that keep your whole body healthy will keep your lips healthy, too.

Tip No. 2: Use Products Your Lips Will Love

When staring at the skincare aisle, you may feel overwhelmed by the multitudes of choices. Keep your lips in tip-top shape by staying simple. Find a product with topical retinoids, which are a form of vitamin A. For decades, retinoid products have been used to treat aged and damaged skin. They’re offered by prescription and over the counter. Talk to your dermatologist about which product would help you achieve your anti-aging goals.

Tip No. 3: Plump It Up

Your dermatologist might suggest trying a lip augmentation procedure to ensure you get the full lips you’re looking for. Advances in recent years have culminated in a plethora of options for lip augmentation. When performed by a trained expert, the procedure is safe and relatively painless, and depending on which cosmetic filler you choose, the effect can last from three months to two years. And if you’re worried about the dreaded “frozen face” effect, rest assured that the field has seen lots of progress in the last few decades.

Today, cosmetic fillers injected by qualified physicians look natural and smoothing. Plus, one type of filler, called hyaluronic acid fillers, can be dissolved by an enzyme injection quickly if you have second thoughts after the procedure. Hyaluronic acid fillers are a popular form of filler, as they’re temporary (lasting 3 to 4 months), can be dissolved if necessary, and they have a natural look. Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in your skin—it adds shape and volume to your lips—but levels decrease as skin ages. Injectable hyaluronic acid fillers can bring your lips back to their natural form.

Collagen injections used to be the most common cosmetic filler, but they are used much less often today, as newer options are safer and last longer. Injectable collagen is made from cows and often referred to as bovine collagen. There’s a risk of an allergic reaction, so before injection, your doctor will test you to ensure you can tolerate the filler.

Whether you’re looking to perk up your pout with the right moisturizing balm, or leaning towards a longer-lasting solution like lip injections, you’ve got options when it comes to helping lips look fuller.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2022 Mar 6
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