How to Manage Deep Lines Around Your Mouth

You have a few options.

When we talk about fine lines and wrinkles, furrowing 11 lines, crow's feet, and deep forehead creases come to mind. And while these are certainly some of the most prevalent signs of aging, nasolabial lines—or smile lines—are right up there on that list. Like any other wrinkle type, deep indents around the mouth are caused by daily expressions that, over time, become permanently etched into the skin. The good news? With proactive skincare ingredients and treatments, you can stop these from forming—or, at the very least, slow down their progression. Ahead, everything you need to know.

person holding coffee cup laughing
Getty / Luis Alvarez

Retinoid and Retinol

According to Dr. Sheila Farhang, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Avant Dermatology & Aesthetics, retinoid is the most impactful anti-aging ingredient to fight these types of lines—followed by retinol (try PCA Skin's Intensive Clarity Treatment 0.5% Retinol Pure Night ($56, if your skin is on the sensitive side. "A retinoid as part of the nightly routine is essential," she explains. "For deeper or more textured lines, I typically prescribe tretinoin starting off at 0.025-percent and working up to 0.1-percent. If my patient cannot tolerate this due to redness, peeling, and irritation, then a dermatologist-recommended retinol works, too."

Active Ingredients

In addition to retinoid and retinol, Dr. Farhang recommends active ingredients such as lactic and glycolic acids. These are chemical exfoliants that treat skin tone and texture and reduce your chances of developing deep lines around your mouth. "Realistically, deep lines won't disappear with just skincare but it is great as prevention, for finer lines and for maintenance between treatments," Dr. Farhang adds. Sunscreen is key on the prevention front, as well: She reminds us that UV damage is the leading cause of aging skin and greatly contributes to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Because of this, religiously applying products with a minimum of SPF 30 is necessary.


Beyond products, Dr. Farhang says that in-office treatments, including peels, microneedling, fractional radiofrequency with microneedling (like Morpheus8), and resurfacing lasers, are all effective options if you already have nasolabial creases. "For deeper etched-in lines, filler can be used to 'pop' them out," she adds. "The filler should be a flexible formulation to allow movement around the lip without it looking thick or noticeable. This treatment lasts nine to 12 months." And if the wrinkles surrounding your mouth are above your lips (these are known as smokers lines) as opposed to on the sides? Dr. Farhang says that neuromodulators, such as Botox or Dysport, can smooth them out, and that the results linger for three to four months.

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