Even though laugh lines can represent happy life experiences, these facial wrinkles that come with age are often considered to be unattractive. If you seek advice from your dermatologist about laugh lines, he or she will most likely recommend dermal fillers or surgery. But what if you don’t want to undergo an invasive procedure? Fortunately, there are several options to prevent and treat laugh lines without surgery. Keep reading to learn exactly what laugh lines are, what causes them, and the best products to use for laugh lines.
What are laugh lines?
Laugh lines, also known as smile lines, are the vertical lines that extend from the sides of the nose and curve around the mouth and sometimes extend to the chin. There are two types of laugh lines: the nasolabial crease and the nasolabial fold. The nasolabial crease is the line you see between the upper lip and cheek, and the nasolabial fold is the skin that hangs over that crease. Almost everyone develops at least minor laugh lines as they age.
Related: How To Get Rid of Wrinkles
What causes laugh lines?
As mentioned above, age is the primary cause of laugh lines. However, there are several additional factors that can contribute to the formation of laugh lines at almost any age, including the following:
- Repetitive facial movements (smiling, laughing, frowning, and any other facial expression)
- Dental problems
- Excessive or chronic alcohol use
- Drug abuse
- Chronic or severe dehydration
- Diets low in antioxidants, healthful fats, and other essential nutrients
- History of sunburn and/or excessive exposure to UV radiation
- Extreme or rapid weight loss
- Severe or chronic illness
- Poor skin hygiene
- Lack of exercise
Changes in the skin that result in laugh lines
Nasolabial creases turn into nasolabial folds due to the skin losing the strength and elasticity it once had during your youth. But what exactly happens in the skin to cause this? Simply put, laugh lines are caused by loss of fat, loss of connective tissue proteins, and/or loss of hydration. Below we will cover each of these in detail so that you know exactly what causes smile lines.
Loss of fat
As you age, the more fat you lose in your face. Significant weight loss can also cause a decrease in the amount of fat in your face. Specifically, the cheek compartment has seven fat pads that descend and shift with time. The smile lines become more prominent due to this loss of volume in the cheeks, which causes everything to slide down due to gravity.
Decreased levels of collagen and elastin
The skin also produces less of the connective tissue proteins collagen and elastin with age. Collagen is a structural protein that is responsible for the resilience, strength, and durability of the skin. Elastin is a highly elastic protein that allows the skin to resume its shape after stretching or contracting. While collagen makes skin look plump and firm, elastin allows the skin to be elastic and pliable. After the age of 20, a person produces about 1 percent less collagen in the skin each year. Moreover, environmental free radicals from things such as UV overexposure and cigarette smoking can degrade both collagen and elastin. If skin doesn’t have enough of these necessary components to “bounce back” like it did when you were younger, laugh lines will develop.
Loss of hydration
A final change that occurs in the skin that can lead to smile lines is loss of hydration, primarily due to the skin producing less hyaluronic acid with age. According to a publication in the journal DermatoEndocrinology, the most dramatic histochemical change observed in aging skin is the marked disappearance of hyaluronic acid in the epidermis (the top layer of skin). It is unknown why this occurs. Hyaluronic acid is the key molecule involved with skin moisture. In fact, hyaluronic acid is able to hold more water than any other natural substance—up to 1,000 times its weight in water! Without a sufficient amount of hyaluronic acid, the skin becomes dry and thin, making it more vulnerable to gravity. Ultimately, the skin will slowly begin to sag, resulting in laugh lines.
How to prevent laugh lines
It is possible to prevent laugh lines from becoming more prominent with age. Review the list above of all the lifestyle factors that are known to contribute to the formation of laugh lines. Addressing these factors is a great way to prevent laugh lines. For example, wearing sunscreen to prevent sunburn, staying hydrated, reducing alcohol intake, and exercising are all simple ways to help prevent laugh lines. But the best way to prevent laugh lines is to use skin care products that are formulated to target the main causes of these lines. Below we will discuss the best skin care products to help improve the appearance of laugh lines.
Should I consider surgery for laugh lines?
Surgical excision of laugh lines is a permanent option for minimizing the appearance of deep nasolabial folds. During this procedure, a facial plastic surgeon will cut out the unwanted nasolabial folds. Then, the skin edges are carefully realigned in a way that involves placement of key stitches underneath the skin. By placing these strategic stitches underneath the smile line skin, the fold is made much more shallow. The actual skin layer is then closed so that the scar ultimately lies in the original smile line.
While surgical excision is a permanent solution for laugh lines, there are many drawbacks to surgery. For instance, this surgery is invasive and has a long recovery time. Most people will experience bruising and swelling after laugh line surgery, and these effects can last about 7 to 10 days. There’s also a risk of infection and scarring if the surgical incision is not taken care of properly. Lastly, this type of surgery can be expensive.
How to get rid of laugh lines without surgery
While prevention is key, we recognize that the development of laugh lines is often inevitable. Since surgery has several disadvantages, we want to explain how to get rid of laugh lines without surgery.
One way to help get rid of laugh lines without surgery is by exercising. Increasing overall physical activity and performing specific facial exercises can help reduce the appearance and severity of laugh lines by making the facial muscles better able to hold their shape. Some of the best facial exercises for laugh lines include the following:
- Strengthen the orbicularis oris (the muscle that surround your lips). Using your index fingers, hook the corners of your mouth and gently pull towards the sides. Hold this position for a few seconds. Now work on the opposite side. Draw the corners of your mouth toward each other, resisting the movement using your index fingers again. Relax and repeat the exercise 25 times.
- Resistance smiles. Perform the exercise by placing your fingers firmly over your laugh lines. Proceed to smile as widely as you can with your lips separated. Hold this position for five seconds. Relax and repeat the exercise 30 times.
- Thumbs next to eyes. Placing your thumbs near your eye corners, with your fingers resting on the top of your head, helps visibly reduce laugh lines. To perform this exercise, close your eyes and slide your thumbs away from your eyes toward your temples. Hold this position for around 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Another way to get rid of laugh lines without surgery is by using skin care products that will target the main causes of laugh lines: loss of connective tissue proteins and loss of hydration (there are no skin care products that can help with loss of fat that occurs with age or major weight loss). Since most anti-aging skin care products are formulated to target fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots, you’re probably wondering what products can be used for laugh lines. To help you out, below we have the best products that you can use for laugh lines.
The best products for laugh lines
The best skin care products to help prevent laugh lines and improve the appearance of existing laugh lines are Formulyst’s Pro-Collagen Serum and Ultimate Youth Concentrate.
Formulyst Pro-Collagen Serum is a lightweight, restorative serum that is specifically formulated for aging skin. The formula contains ingredients like Chondrus Crispus extract and hyaluronic acid to boost the skin’s hydration, while peptides and hydrolyzed soy protein can help stimulate the production of collagen. You may recall from above that laugh lines are caused by a lack of hydration and loss of connective tissue proteins. Since the Formulyst Pro-Collagen Serum addresses both of these issues, you may notice your skin looks and feels firmer and more youthful.
Formulyst’s Ultimate Youth Concentrate is bioengineered from plant stem cells and contains a concentrated combination of five unique peptides that can help stimulate the production of Epidermal Growth Factors (EGF). EGF is a protein naturally found in cells called fibroblasts, which are responsible for producing collagen. It is thought that EGF signals to fibroblasts to produce more collagen, which leads to cell growth, proliferation, and wound healing. As we age, our ability to produce EGF decreases, resulting in the key signs that contribute to aging skin. Applying products that increase EGF production, such as the Formulyst Ultimate Youth Concentrate, may increase skin strength and integrity.
References: HarpersBazaar.com “How To Get Rid of Laugh Lines With Five Expert-Approved Tips” June 2019, Byrdie “Everything You Need to Know About Smile Lines, According to Skincare Experts” June 2019, Dermatoendocrinol 2012 Jul 1; 4(3): 253–258, drhilinski.com/procedures/smile-line-correction/, boynedental.ie/exercises-to-reduce-laugh-lines-naturally/