Smiling, laughing, and pulling dramatic faces from time to time are all part of the joys of living – and the lines and wrinkles that form are reflective of all these wonderful moments. However, natural aging will cause these creases to become more pronounced in the lower face, which can give the impression of perpetual frowning and sadness if left untreated. While making repeated expressions is the biggest culprit of these facial lines, we would never tell you to stop smiling! There are plenty of other effective ways you can combat these signs of aging, even at home.
What are nasolabial lines?
The nasolabial lines are the creases that connect the bottom of the nostrils to the corners of the mouth. These folds can deepen with age and gravity, extending vertically down to the chin and creating what are called marionette lines – yes, just like the split-jawed string puppets. Together, nasolabial lines and marionette lines make up the general category of smile lines and laugh lines – which are beautiful in their right, but can easily add years to the appearance.
But first, prevention!
Aside from natural aging, repeated expressions, and genetics, the two biggest culprits of laugh lines are smoking cigarettes and sun damage. The toxins present in cigarettes can expedite signs of aging by as much as 20%, and the pursing action of the lips when smoking a cigarette can also cause mouth wrinkles. As for protecting our skin against UVA and UVB rays, we recommend using a good broad-spectrum SPF30 sunscreen, with regular re-application every 2-3 hours throughout the day. This goes without saying, but if you haven’t already, quit the tanning bed ASAP and stick to organic and paraben-free self-tan formulas.
Other ways to prevent laugh lines includes giving your face a little workout every morning by way of facial rolling and Gua Sha techniques. Great for warding away wrinkles, Gua Sha helps tense facial muscles relax and increases blood flow that brings oxygen and nutrients to the skin. Use in tandem with a good skincare routine that incorporates ingredients such as retinol, which speeds up skin cell turnover. Finally, don’t ever underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep – but also remember not to smush your face up against the pillow!
Treating mild to severe laugh lines
Our top tip to you is to start with less invasive options and work your way up. Nasolabial lines can vary in severity from thin lines that appear for a few seconds after smiling to deep-set creases that create a clear separation between the upper lip skin and cheeks. Before you jump the gun and go for a risky cosmetic face-lift surgery, consider the antiaging solutions below:
1. Acupressure massage
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) gleans a lot of valuable insights on maintaining skin health, and one of them is the concept of acupoints. Acupoints are the locations where qi (vital energy) of all our organs and meridians flow to the surface, and by stimulating these points, we can regulate the function of certain organs. To treat laugh lines, use both index fingers to press firmly on either side of the largest part of your nose 100 times before you sleep every night.
2. Skin tightening with RF and HIFU
While HIFU is the go-to treatment for “lifting” sagging skin, RF is a useful therapy for restoring volume where age has created a sunken appearance. To treat nasolabial folds, we recommend using both treatments to first help skin cells re-generate in the cheeks where the most obvious fat loss has occurred, and then to tighten and lift the sagging skin of the lower cheeks caused by gravity and volume loss. RF and HIFU damage microscopic areas of the skin’s lower layers to stimulate collagen and elastin production for thicker, tightened skin.
Also known as “collagen induction therapy”, microneedling creates scores of tiny micro-injuries on the skin surface to trigger collagen and elastin production. The minimally invasive treatment softens wrinkles and fine lines, while tightening the skin. For a cost-effective tool with the same results, derma rollers are completely safe for home use. This treatment is advised for shallow nasolabial lines, rather than deep wrinkles.
4. Dermal fillers
For a more immediate solution, hyaluronic acid fillers can be injected into the skin of the cheeks. This prompts the tissue to produce collagen and elastin, which fill in the hollow areas creating the folds. When it comes to deeper nasolabial folds, experts argue that fillers are the more effective treatment over Botox.
In the end, nasolabial lines are an inevitable outcome of aging. Laugh lines are symbolic of the joyful moments and meaningful conversations that color our lives, and for that we should be grateful. Solutions to diminish their appearance won’t last forever, but we can still take it upon ourselves to ensure the best possible skin health for aging beautifully and gracefully.