Smile lines and laugh lines? So not funny. Although laugh lines can appear both around the mouth and near the eyes, science shows that nasolabial creases, aka the lines that form from the outer nostrils to the corners of the mouth, are the strongest indicator of a person’s perceived age. In other words, as humans, we subconsciously determine a person’s age based on the severity of those lines more than any other sign of aging—crow’s feet, age spots, and forehead wrinkles included. So, to keep a youthful look, you’ll have to nip those smile and laugh lines in the bud. We’ve got a slew of solutions—but before we talk about that, let’s first get to know what we’re dealing with here.
Smile Lines and Laugh Lines: What are They?
“Smile lines” and “laugh lines” are layman’s terms used pretty interchangeably to describe the more technical “nasolabial folds,” as well as crow’s feet and other little crinkles that appear around our eyes when we smile and laugh. They’re dynamic wrinkles, meaning they show up when we move our faces, but just like Mom might have warned you, they really can get stuck. Over time, as we lose volume and elasticity in our skin, those fine lines around our eyes and parenthetical creases around our mouths just don’t bounce back. It takes some concerted effort to keep them away.
6 Effective Treatments for Smile Lines & Laugh Lines
Your smile is beautiful (really—it’s proven)! Don’t let the Kim Kardashians of the world of the world tell you that a few wrinkles here and there aren’t worth the happy mood. Instead, look at ways to keep them from sticking around. Here are a handful of our favorite smile and laugh line treatments:
1. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is produced naturally by almost every cell of the body, but the greatest concentration of the molecule occurs in the skin. It’s a moisture-binding ingredient that miraculously can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, and it’s a major contributor to the bouncy, plump skin we associate with a young-looking face.
Hyaluronic acid is the primary ingredient in most dermal fillers, such as Restylane, Juvederm, and Voluma, which can be injected to boost skin volume and fill in wrinkles or fine lines. But HA is also highly effective as a topical treatment to bring hydration to the skin and smooth away creases on the face. Try using a serum or moisturizer with a high concentration of HA, and say hello to supple, fresh skin. How about that for something to smile about?
2. Overnight Moisture
Just like the rest of the body, your skin cells go into repair mode when you sleep, which is why it’s crucial to get plenty of shut-eye. But more importantly when it comes to wrinkles, nighttime skin is free from daytime stimuli and environmental stressors, so it’s able to absorb all those good ingredients without interruption. Pamper those smile lines while they’re nice and relaxed.
But how do you indulge that skin overnight? Feed it plenty of moisture. As we age, our skin becomes drier, which encourages wrinkles to stay put. There’s a reason “night creams” exist! Using a heavier moisturizer at night ensures a nice, dewy face that’s ready to fight wrinkles the whole next day. For added benefits, especially in arid winter months when you might turn on your heater, opt for a humidifier in the bedroom to deliver extra hydration through the night.
Lastly, for serious overnight rejuvenation, try a set of silicone patches like the SiO Eye & Smile Lift. One pack comes with four pads (one for each side of the mouth and one for each side of the eyes) that last up to two weeks and can be worn anywhere between two and eight hours at a time. They’re made from nothing but medical-grade silicone, and they work by literally flattening out the wrinkles with compressive technology, while simultaneously offering deep hydration that smooths out creases in the skin. By adhering to the face, they create a moisture-rich microclimate that hydrates from the inner layers to the outermost layer of the dermis. The results? Enviably plump, glowy, and smooth skin that’s ready to face the day. Talk about beauty sleep!
3. Good Ol’ H2O
Nothing busts wrinkles from the inside out like drinking plenty of fluids. Ever woken up thirsty and happened to notice that the lines on your face are more pronounced than usual? You can thank dehydration for that. Newsflash: our skin cells need water to stay vibrant.
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to drown yourself in water to be healthy. In fact, you may not even need those doctor-recommended eight glasses. The reality is your body will just flush any excess fluids right out. But if you feel thirsty, you’re already at the point of dehydration, and fine lines on the face are one of the first indicators.
Dehydration is also worsened by alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and even a good sweat sesh—so cut back on unhealthy habits, and make sure you’re drinking enough H2O to compensate for water loss when exercising. Incorporating water-rich fruits and vegetables into your diet like cucumbers, celery, and watermelon will also help you stay hydrated while delivering lots of skin-nourishing vitamins to the system.
Products containing vitamin A, otherwise known as retinoid products, have been proven over many decades to even out epidermal skin and support the skin’s natural ability to produce collagen. By improving elasticity, those smile lines don’t stand a chance.
Retinol triggers the skin cells to regenerate faster than normal, which not only prevents lines from forming but also softens the appearance of existing lines. This rapid cell turnover can cause irritation though, especially at first, so you may look for encapsulated retinol as an active ingredient, as it’s less irritating than other forms. Taking it easy on the exfoliation and using plenty of moisturizer can help ease your skin into the new regimen, too. But whether you’re a seasoned retinoid pro or a total rookie, you’ll definitely want to make sure to pair it with plenty of SPF. Skin treated with vitamin A is notoriously sensitive to UV rays.
5. Facial Yoga
Yes, it’s a thing! The face is made up of many different muscles, which is of course why we’re able to express our emotions by moving our faces. Strengthening these muscles can improve the skin’s resilience so that your every mood doesn’t settle into unsightly creases on the skin surface.
To work the muscles around the mouth, place your index fingers on either corner and pull upwards and outwards towards the ears. Hold this for about ten seconds, relax, then repeat about ten more times. Next, take a big breath and puff out your cheeks, moving the air from one side to the other in order to stretch out the skin. Release, then repeat, aiming for about ten reps.
To address those pesky eye lines, place the thumbs at the outer corners of the eyes and resist as you squeeze the eyes shut for about ten seconds. Relax, then repeat a few more times. Do this routine every day, and kiss those laugh lines goodbye.
6. Face Oils
The Tin Man just might have been onto something; oil loosens up all the hard edges, and smile lines are no exception. Face oils have become trendy in recent years, but in actuality, they date back thousands of years, with ancient cultures having used natural oils to refresh dry skin and prevent wrinkles.
Why oils? Tried and true, oils form an occlusive seal that holds water in the skin cells, thereby allowing them to retain moisture. Moisturized skin equals fresh, bouncy skin. Not to mention, high-quality plant-based oils can also provide essential fatty acids as well as vitamins and antioxidants that protect and rejuvenate the skin.
Try a balancing oil like jojoba, which is technically a liquid wax that mimics the skin’s natural moisturizing element, sebum. The result is all the moisture and none of the greasiness. Add in some rosehip, carrot seed, and sandalwood essential oils, and you’ve got an anti-aging powerhouse on your hands.
How can something so happy have such bummer consequences? Genetics, time, stress, sun damage, and even dramatic weight loss can all contribute to those lingering lines around the eyes and mouth. But at the end of the day, smile lines and laugh lines are a small price to pay for years of joy. So, we’ll take ‘em—but that doesn’t mean we have to embrace ‘em. They’ll be gone in a flash with just a few simple additions to your daily routine: a little extra moisture with some high-performance ingredients, some hydration from the inside, a few facial exercises… and look who’s laughing now!