Beauty Clinic: Restoring lip lusciousness
Q. My formerly normal-sized lips seem to be shrinking a bit and there are visible vertical lines on the lips rather than just on my upper lip. I'm in my early 40s and I really want to get my lips looking good again. I'm open to topical treatments of any kind.
A. ‘This is such a common problem and one I see a lot of in my clinic,’ says Dr. Sophie Shotter, a qualified medical doctor who specialises in aesthetics. We all know that, as the years go by, the collagen and elastin – which gives skin suppleness and bounce – diminishes. It’s less well known that we also lose hyaluronic acid (HA), which acts like a sponge holding water and giving cells plumptiousness.
The key thing we forget is that we lose these vital elements in our lips as well as our complexions. That’s why your lips are less full and the vertical lines show up more. ‘The time when people start to notice this varies but for most people it becomes more visible in their forties because the rapid decline in oestrogen leading up to menopause accelerates skin ageing, ’ explains Dr. Shotter.
While we lavish TLC on our complexions, our lips tend to get missed out – bar a bit of balm when they feel dry. Dr. Shotter’s take home message is to treat your lips with the care you treat your face.
Here are some options she recommends, starting with one she says is best avoided. ‘I know a lot of people love Vaseline but long term use actually dehydrates your lips and they become dependent on more and more applications.’
Use a lightweight hyaluronic acid-based serum on your whole face at night, including your lips. Dr. Shotter’s favourite product is Neostrata Tri-therapy Lifting Serum. For daytime she pops Fillerina ® Lip Plump, which contains six different forms of topical HA (important to get to different levels of skin). This is not a temporary lip plumper, the brand emphasises, but is formulated to work gradually over a month. They advise repeating at, say, three month intervals. Not cheap but it should last for a couple of sessions or more. Currently £51 at feelunique.com.
We find simply putting whatever HA we’re using on lips as well as face has a positive effect. (Currently that’s Balance Me Tri-Molecular Serum/£30 for 30ml.) Then using a balm such as Balmkind Alpine Rose & Lysine SPF20/£13, through the day to keep them soft and protected from UV.
We’re big fans of iS Clinical’s new lip-plumping Youth Lip Elixir/£52, which contains HA, vitamins C, E, and B5, shea and cocoa butters plus the brand’s own Extrozymes® formula, which promises ‘multi-level protection against dangerous environmental aggressors’. Use this with their sugar-based scrub, Lip Polish/£32, which you rub round your lips and leaves them almost unbelievably smooth.
These days, lips even get their own dedicated masks. Dr Shotter is a fan of Intraceuticals Lip Mask, which is infused with HA plus vitamin C and hydrolysed what collagen. It promises to plump and smooth the lips and surrounding area. £39.95 for six masks from skincity.co.uk.
A newcomer to the lip mask arena is Kaplan MD Perfect Pout Introductory Duo of lip mask and lip balm, which is a best seller in the US/£24 from cultbeauty.co.uk. Founder Dr. Stuart Kaplan is a leading derm in Beverly Hills and all the products are free of parabens, sulphates and phthalates, and also cruelty-free.
Additionally, you may want to consider injectable fillers with hyaluronic acid., Dr. Shotter says Juvederm Volite is ‘fabulous for hydration and dewy plumpness’. It was specifically designed to boost skin quality, almost like an injectable moisturiser, and Dr. Shotter has adapted the treatment for lips.
However, some readers are concerned about having thin lips anyway and for these, Dr. Shotter recommends considering Juvederm Volift or Volbella. Find more information at juvederm.co.uk.