Certain places on the body are known settings for signs of aging. It's the curves surrounding the eyes and the flat plains of the hands, the grooves of the neck and the matching parentheses enclosing the mouth. In time, we know that these spots will give our experience away—whether that's openly highlighting those naive summers in the sun or detailing those many nights we went without moisturizer. But our lips? It's slightly surprising to hear that lips can also highlight fine lines and wrinkles, perhaps faster than their counterparts.
"Because lip skin is delicate, it shows signs of aging more quickly than other areas of skin," says Jennifer Herrmann, a dermatologist at MFC Dermatology in Beverly Hills.
Much like applying sunscreen, serums, and moisturizers to our faces, hands, and necks to control signs of aging, Herrmann says, it's important to develop a regimen for lips. "Key ingredients for anti-aging are growth factors that stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis, DNA repair enzymes that reverse DNA damage, retinoids that help turn over new skin cells, antioxidants that squelch damaging free radicals, and hyaluronic acids that give maximum hydration," she notes. "And one more staple: SPF, of course!"
Anti-aging lip treatments should be used often, Herrmann notes, although the frequency depends on the product. "Those with reparative enzymes or SPF, for example, should be used daily or more to help restore healthy DNA," she says, "and depending on the season, products with intense hydration may be required multiple times throughout the day during the winter but not at all in the summer. Lastly, products with growth factors and antioxidants can be used once or twice daily, and those with mild retinol can be used up to three times per week."
Once armed with this information, we also asked Herrmann to provide her recommendations for what should be in an at-home lip-care routine. Be patient and you'll see the texture and clarity of your pout improve, she says. But don't bite your lip at the thought of an in-office treatment, either.
"While topical lip therapies are an essential part of good lip hygiene, in-office treatments can offer added benefits," she says. "Pigmentation, which often shows up on the upper lip, can be treated with light laser treatments, and fine lines can be targeted with fractionated resurfacing lasers. These induce collagen synthesis and can smooth vertical lip lines better than most injectable fillers."
Until you're ready for that step, these are the 11 lip products that should be stacked in your medicine cabinet as soon as possible.
"This is an inexpensive option backed by science, which contains DNA repair enzymes that help reverse the damage that leads to signs of aging, as well as pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions on the skin," she says.
"This contains retinol 8, a stabilized vitamin A complex that's gentler than retinoids, helps boost collagen production, and fades dark spots and fine lip lines," Herrmann notes.
"This simple and inexpensive product hydrates lips with hyaluronic acid, protects from UV with an SPF 30, guards against free radical damage with vitamin E, and helps repair a cracked or chapped skin barrier with ceramides," she adds.
"This is another simple, protective option that has a mineral-based SPF 30," she says. "It's ideal for those with sensitive skin."
"This contains a blend of antioxidant vitamin E, green tea, white tea, and grapeseed extract to fight free radicals," she says. "The combination keeps lips healthy and less damaged."
"This item has 20 anti-aging active ingredients, like antioxidants and peptides, that help fight the appearance of wrinkles," Herrmann notes. "Its high concentrations of hyaluronic acid provide an immediate soft and plump texture, too."
"Dry or flaking lips look old, so using a product with sugar can help gently exfoliate lips and restore smoothness," she continues. "This is a favorite because it's formulated with acmella flower extract, kigelia africana fruit extract, and sugar to help smooth lips."
"As we age, estrogen decreases and results in thinner skin," Herrmann says. "This balm has a unique phytoestrogen technology that works to counteract fine lines and aging in women's skin."
"This is an awesome natural choice to restore plumpness and add color," she says. "With built-in SPF 30, it protects but also soothes and softens lips."
"This product is perfect for drier winter lips," she says. "Its antioxidants, essential oils, botanicals, and vitamins help restore fullness and smoothness."
"This has antioxidants vitamin E and silymarin, which target fine lines, sun damage, and dullness," she notes.