Your Lips Deflate With Age — Here's How To Prevent It & Encourage Volume
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. To start, collagen loss is a major factor. Collagen is one of the skin's structural proteins that keeps things looking full, firm, and strong. At some point in our 20s, our skin doesn't produce enough collagen to replenish what's lost—and so our natural reserve starts to decline. In addition, the fat pads under our lips lose volume with time (this happens elsewhere on the face as well—fat under the skin shrinks and moves down with time.) Finally, the skin also doesn't produce as many humectants and lipids (like ceramides and hyaluronic acid). This means skin becomes more prone to dryness and fine lines and doesn't appear as supple as it once was.
These changes may be inevitable with age, but you're not without solutions. In fact, there are many tools and habits that can help restore shape and fullness. Here, three things to start doing now if you're experiencing volume loss.
Keep them moisturized.
The best habit to adopt is to keep a high-quality lip balm nearby. Keeping skin hydrated is one of the most effective ways to support it as you age. The best lip balms leave your skin feeling comforted for hours (however: reapplying throughout the day is normal—especially if you're drinking hot liquids, eating spicy food, or licking your lips).
But not all formulas are created equal. Lots of balms end up leaving your skin feeling more parched than before. To avoid this, it's important to find an option that uses a blend of humectants, emollients, and occlusives so they can achieve three things: attract moisture, condition the barrier, and provide a protective seal over the lips.
In mindbodygreen's lip balm, we blended together shea butter, sunflower seed wax, sodium hyaluronate, castor jelly, moringa seed oil, and several other high-quality ingredients. Not only will these provide lasting hydration, but they can also improve skin health. For example, the cold-pressed organic moringa seed oil feeds the skin free-radical-fighting antioxidants. The castor jelly nourishes and conditions with fatty acids. And the sodium hyaluronate (a smaller form of hyaluronic acid often used for the lip area) attracts and holds water for a subtle plumping effect.
Use high-tech, modern lip "plumpers."
If hearing the word lip "plumpers" makes you think of tingly, stinging things of the late '90s and aughts, don't worry; we've moved on. Modern-day lip plumpers are high-tech, actually support the skin, and deliver results sans needles.
These products aren't permanent (OK, so maybe not exactly like filler), but the effects build and last with regular use. The viral Lip Filler formula from Ourself uses multi-weight hyaluronic acid and vitamin B3 derivatives to help smooth lip lines, increase definition, instantly enhance color, and plump. Or the new Droplette is a micro-infuser that transforms liquid serums into a vaporized micro mist. This means active ingredients can penetrate the epidermis up to 20x deeper than your typical topical. And not only is it used for the face, but they also have 17-Volt Lip Plumper capsules to deliver ingredients like hyaluronic acid and collagen past the skin barrier, increasing lip surface area up to 40% for up to six hours.
This route tends to be a bit pricer, but if you can swing it—you'll be impressed with the results.
Support & protect the skin.
The truth is that you can try all the new, fancy treatments in the world, but if you're not protecting your skin on a day-to-day basis, it really doesn't mean much.
While keeping the skin hydrated and nourished is one vital piece of this (ahem, I'll refer you to section one), it's not the only thing to keep in mind. Sun protection is an often forgotten step for the lip area. Unprotected UV rays are a major factor in collagen loss—accounting for up to 80% of visible aging of the face1. Always protect the lips with SPF when spending time outdoors.
Inflammation and oxidative stress are other contributing factors that lead to premature aging, as they can deplete collagen, humectants, and lipids. These are trickier to deal with, as many things can inflame your lips—but in general, it's good practice to use antioxidant-rich ingredients and calming topicals. You should also be gentle with the area and avoid overly harsh ingredients. The lips are delicate with thin skin, and when you use too potent ingredients, it can cause irritation.
The hard truth is that the skin loses collagen, fat, and other vital components with time. This loss contributes to fine lines, loss of volume, and dryness. This is true for the overall face, eyes, and yes, lips. However, there are meaningful ways to support the area day-to-day, like using a high-quality lip balm, protecting it from UV rays, and being gentle to the delicate skin. And when you want to take it to the next level? Well, modern-day lip "plumpers" will do the work for you. Learn more about keeping lips plump naturally, here.
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.