Beauty Clinic: Smoothing upper lip lines

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Q. I’m increasingly frustrated at the lines above my mouth. I’ve tried exercises, natural remedies such as cinnamon and oil, all kinds of serums but to no avail. I have a facial about every six weeks.

A. Fine vertical furrows on the upper lip are often a legacy of smoking, or using a straw to drink sugary drinks (often at the behest of your dentist). In both cases, the puckering creates lines and the substance you are ingesting degrades collagen, which breaks down with age anyway, says consultant dermatologist Professor Nick Lowe of the Cranley Clinic London (drnicklowe.com).

Repetitive sun exposure may cause or add to these ‘bar code lines’, adds Professor Lowe. The lower half of the face is often more vulnerable to UV light because the upper part is often in shadow from hair and a hat. Drivers are often affected as UVA can travel through the windscreen.

Topical products will help a little and are indispensable for maintenance (more below). Pharmacist Shabir Daya likes Green People Age Defy Line Eraser Lip and Eye, currently £12 for 10ml, which can be combined with Hayo’u Beauty Restorer Precision, £35, a little jade tool that can help ‘reinvigorate’ lips and eyes. Both from victoriahealth.com.

However, Professor Lowe believes these lines are best treated in a clinic setting, by smoothing out the lines with an injectable filler containing hyaluronic acid. He prefers Volite, which he sometimes mixes with platelets from the patient’s own blood to stimulate collagen.  

He uses a range of other treatments to encourage collagen production, including micro-needling and Fraxel laser skin rejuvenation, also tiny amounts of Botox to stop puckering.

Dr Lowe warns his patients that they are wasting their money if they continue smoking or do not apply sun protection daily. He suggests a vitamin C serum in the morning under a sun prep, and a retinol at night. (Retinol can make the skin hypersensitive to UV light so should not be used in the daytime.) 

Dr Lowe’s preferred brands are Skinceuticals and La Roche Posay. Try La Roche Posay Redermic Anti-Ageing C10 Cream, currently £22.12 for 30ml at boots.com and Redermic Retinol Night Moisturiser, currently £22.12 for 30 ml. SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic is £109.95 for 30ml, and Retinol 0.3% £44.95 for 30ml, both at lookfantastic.com.

Since you have a regular facial treatment, leading facialist Vaishaly Patel (vaishaly.com) suggests choosing one that offers galvanic lifting and toning treatments as, in her experience, this helps to make lines less visible.