Do you have to smoke to get smoker lines? I learned the answer is no. Yes, those who smoke may have more pronounced lines around their mouth, hence the term “smokers lines” but really all of us will have to deal with these types of lines. Even if you’ve never smoked a cigarette in your life, you’ll likely start to see some of these lines forming around your lips as you get older. Sounds unfair, doesn’t it? I’ve never smoked a day in my life and one day there they were as I put on my lipstick, small but ever-present vertical lines, circling my mouth. I guess I naively believed that avoiding cigarettes and basic moisturizing would be enough to keep my skin healthy, but obviously I was wrong. And so the next day I was off to my first Dermatology appointment, determined to learn how to turn this around. I love wearing lipstick and those lines would only continue to get worse if I didn’t do something to stop it.
My first question to my doctor was “Why, if I’ve never smoked am I getting these lines?”. Her answer was twofold, first age is a factor and secondly, facial muscle contractions. Unfortunately I can’t do much about aging but I asked more about these muscle contractions.
How can I avoid these from taking over my face with wrinkles? She patiently explained that unless I was ready to never smile or ever move my face again that I’d have to deal with them. These muscle contractions, which I thought were out to plague my lipstick-wearing life, are actually how we come to show expressions on our face. Every little face we make to express ourselves is made by our facial muscles contracting. Any expression that you make repeatedly will create lines and progress to a deep wrinkle as time goes on. And even if you don’t smoke, any movement with your lips will trigger those muscles and give you those “smoker lines”. I asked her about my options as I wanted to rid myself of them or at least start to treat them. She listed some changes I could make to my daily life as well as my treatments options to target this area directly.
PLAN OF ACTION
My first plan of action was to address the things I could easily control like easing up on any lip puckering expressions. Other recommendations she made was to avoid using straws, and sipping hot drinks like coffee or tea. No more straws? No problem. But I wasn’t about to give up my love for my morning coffee, as I’m convinced I need it to survive, but I decided I could easily opt for an iced coffee on occasion and cut my hot beverages in half, giving my muscles a much needed break. Also, I was going to have to start taking a closer look at the products I use on my face. Honestly, I’ve never had many skin issues so I never worried too much about what type of products I used as long as they did their job. She recommended avoiding heavy soaps or alcohol-based cleansers and to try oil-free products. Checking out some new products and changing up my routine a bit was now officially on my to-do list.
Next we discussed treatment options. The most popular treatment involved dermal fillers, then there’s laser treatments, needling and peels. They seemed too drastic and expensive for me to maintain. Dermal fillers are pricey and could easily look unnatural. The other options would give a more natural look but price was still a factor. While I was happy to hear there was more than one option, I wasn’t really feeling confident about them so I left my appointment only half accomplished in my mission to fix these wrinkles.
I mentioned this whole ordeal to my boss over lunch not too long after and she confessed that she’d gone through a similar thing a couple years earlier. She also didn’t want to pay to maintain fillers so she looked for alternatives and found a product that she’s been using ever since. The product she came across was actually on Shark Tank, called AngelLift.
Of course, I love watching Shark Tank so my interest was peaked. The treatment involves using “hydro-gel” strips and wearing them in your mouth above your teeth for a few minutes a day. These special strips use pressure to lift out the lines around your mouth. She compared it to teeth whitening strips. You put them in for 30 minutes and then take them out when you’re done and they’re reusable so you can use them as much as you need or want.
I like the idea, but I wanted more options. After bit of research I found that the most common treatment was cosmetic injections, also known as 'fillers'. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgeons, the most common of the fillers was Juvederm. Pricing really ranged over a wide spectrum as every doctor charges differently. It seemed to average from $300 to $600 per visit.
There was another option that kept popping up in my research which was a procedure called a lip lift. This is an out patient treatment where they run a stitch through your upper lip and lift it up, which reduces some lines and gives a bigger lip look. This treatment averaged around $2500.
I needed to make a choice.
TWO MONTHS LATER
After weighing all the options, I decided to go with AngelLift. I started using the strips only a few minutes a day in the morning and then again at night, before bed. Soon I was wearing them at least 30 min a day, when watching TV. It was really no big deal. They actually kept me from snacking after dinner... thats a different article ;)
After about 2 weeks I could clearly see the difference. My laugh lines were much less noticeable and my upper lip lines, I called smoker lines, were almost gone. By the end of the 2 months, I was only using the strips for maintenance and prevention as most of my lines were gone within the first month or so. I can honestly say the process was easy and more effective than I expected. I have since written 3 articles about the technology used by AngelLift and expect more painless, chemical free products from this method.