Your Lips Might Be Aging Your Overall Appearance — What To Know
In the beauty space, we often talk about how the hands or neck reveal your true age. The idea here is that you may spend top dollar for the skin on your face, but neglect the skin south of the chin. (While we’re talking about it, I do encourage you to use a high-quality hand cream to deal with dark spots, fine lines, and other signs of aging.) But there’s another part of your skin that’s secretly revealing signs of aging: your lips.
Your lips change appearance as you get older. This is a fact of life, and completely normal. But for those of us who want to look our best as we age, it’s important to pay attention to the appearance of the skin so we can care for it better. (An example: If you’re dealing with dark spots, that’s a great indication that you should be using antioxidants with photo-protective qualities—and of course wear sunscreen.)
Well, when your lips start dealing with the below, it’s time to up your lip care game.
The natural volume deflates.
Lips thin and lose volume with time. It's a natural part of the aging process and can be attributed to natural decreases in and under the skin, such as loss of collagen, fat, lipids, and humectants like hyaluronic acid1. When the natural production of these starts slowing, the skin will appear less plump and supple.
You can temporarily plump up the lips with balms and lip products infused with hyaluronic acid. mindbodygreen’s lip balm is made with sodium hyaluronate, which has a smaller molecular size so it’s able to dive deeper into the epidermis to plump skin. It also includes other humectants like castor oil and antioxidants like moringa seed oil and vitamin E.
Tone loses vibrancy and color.
The color of your lips becomes duller and more lackluster with age, too. "The mucosal part of your lip is thinner compared to the rest of your skin, as it is made up of fewer layers and also contains many capillaries or tiny blood vessels," says board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, M.D., FAAD explains about lip anatomy. "Taken together, this accounts for the color of the lips."
As we get older, the skin becomes dryer. This is true of skin all over our body, but especially the lips. "As you get older, the lips tend to thin and [face] increased moisture loss, which may change the overall appearance and color, as having dry skin on the lips can make them appear dull," says Garshick.
Not only is it good for skin health to keep your lips hydrated, it can help keep the appearance vibrant. Look for options that blend together emollients (like castor oil, moringa seed oil, sunflower seed oil), humectants (like hyaluronic acid), and occlusives (like butters and waxes.)
Lipsticks bleed easier.
Tiny, faint fine lines start to form around the lip line due to regular movement (you know, talking). They are sometimes called “smokers lines” because they are more frequent in those who smoke but anyone can get them.
Well, when you wear lipstick or other lip products, the pigment tends to seep through these tiny cracks—or, the lipstick bleeds. If you notice that your lipstick isn’t staying as clean as it once did, it may be a sign that these fine lines are becoming more prominent.
One way to help is to make sure you’re layering a hydrating lip product as a base for the lipstick and lip liner. The balm will provide a cushiony, plumping base for the lipstick or lip liner so it’s less likely to sink into the small etches.
And to prevent the fine lines from getting worse, be sure to find lip products loaded with healthy aging ingredients like antioxidants, such as vitamin E and botanical oils.
Lips can show signs of premature aging faster than the rest of the face — so if you find you’re struggling with fine lines, loss of volume, and lack of color it’s time to pay closer attention to your skin care in the area.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.