Have Smoker’s Lips? Here’s What You Can Do About Them
We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
Smoker’s lips are characterized by vertical wrinkles around the mouth. The lips and gums may also become significantly darker than their natural shade (hyperpigmentation).
Smoker’s lips can begin to occur after months or years of smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products. If you have smoker’s lips, the best thing you can do to reduce their appearance is to stop smoking. There are also treatments that may help.
Smoking can cause periodontal disease and several types of oral cancer.
In addition to these serious health conditions, smoking can affect your appearance, causing the skin around your mouth to sag and wrinkle. It can also darken your lips and gums.
Smoking accelerates the skin’s aging process, causing wrinkles. One reason for this is nicotine. Nicotine causes blood vessels to shrink and narrow, reducing blood flow and starving skin of oxygen and the nutrients it needs to remain healthy and supple.
Reduced blood flow and exposure to tar and nicotine can also cause the melanin in your lips and gums to darken, leading to uneven pigmentation. They may appear blotchy, purple, dark brown, or black.
The chemicals in cigarettes also have negative effects on the skin. In one cigarette, there are over 4,000 chemicals in the tobacco smoke.
These chemicals damage collagen and elastin, which are two proteins that help maintain your skin’s elasticity and structure. Without enough collagen and elastin to keep it strong, your skin’s fibers weaken, causing sagging and wrinkles.
The repeated puckering of the lips when smoking and the heat generated by burning cigarettes can also cause smoker’s lips to form.
Quitting smoking can often stop further damage to the lips and mouth.
Whether you stop smoking or not, drink lots of water to flush the toxins from cigarettes out of your system, and make sure to keep your lips protected from the sun. Shop for smoking cessation aids.
There are several treatments for hyperpigmentation. They may help return your lips to their natural color.
tips to lighten lips
- Exfoliation. Lip skin is delicate and should be treated with care. You can make a DIY exfoliator at home, or use a store-bought brand. Try mixing coarse salt or sugar with almond oil or coconut oil and gently massaging the mixture into your lips once a day. You can also use a soft bristle brush or washcloth dipped in oil to exfoliate. Use a moisturizer or lip balm after each treatment. Shop for almond oil and coconut oil.
- Lip mask. Anecdotal evidence shows that lip masks containing turmeric, lemon, or lime juice may help lighten lips. Try combining one or more of these ingredients with vitamin A or vitamin E oil, and coat your lips for 15 minutes, once daily. Shop for vitamin E oil.
- Laser treatment. Done professionally by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, laser treatments work by focusing concentrated pulses of light deep within the skin’s layers. These treatments can be used to restore lips to their natural color, target dark spots, remove excess melanin, stimulate collagen production, and erase vertical wrinkles around the mouth.
Lip wrinkles caused by smoking are also referred to as lipstick lines. These wrinkles may be made worse by drinking alcohol, not getting enough sleep, too much sun exposure, and eating a poor diet.
There are treatments that can help reduce or eliminate vertical lines around the mouth. Some of these treatments are especially beneficial for reducing lip wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.
tips to reduce lip wrinkles
- Moisturize and hydrate skin. Using a rich moisturizer that contains tretinoin, such as Retin-A, may help build collagen and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth. A daily moisturizer that contains a broad spectrum SPF can reduce exposure to UVA and UVB rays. Shop for retinol.
- Acid peels. Mandelic acid is a gentle type of alpha hydroxy acid that’s derived from bitter almonds. There are at-home and professional versions of Mandelic acid peels of varying strength. Many can be used on and around the lip area to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and to lighten dark patches. Shop for alpha hydroxy acid for face.
- Anti-wrinkle injections. Your doctor may suggest using an injected medication, such as Botox, to smooth wrinkles and relax facial muscles.
- Dermal fillers. Fillers often contain hyaluronic acid. They’re used to plump up the appearance of lips by filling in wrinkles and lines around the mouth.
- Laser resurfacing. Also called lasabrasion or laser peeling, laser resurfacing is done by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Laser treatments remove the uppermost, damaged layer of skin. Some treatments are done after injecting temporary fillers or fat grafting directly into deep wrinkles.
Lip and mouth cancer
Oral cancer can develop in the lips, gums, tongue, and on the inside of the mouth. Smoking cigarettes and using other types of tobacco are high risk factors for oral cancer. Quitting smoking can help reduce your risk.
Treatment for mouth or lip cancer often requires surgery to remove tumors and cancer cells that have spread to other areas of the body, such as the neck. You may also need surgical reconstruction of the mouth, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.
Smoker's lips describe the lines and discoloration of the lips and the surrounding skin that many smokers experience. The repeated pursing of the lips and exposure to the heat and smoke can damage skin and cause it to darken. There are many ways to lighten the skin, but wrinkles may require cosmetic procedures to erase.
Purple Spot On Lip: What Causes It?
Discovering a purple spot on your lip that was never there before can be scary, and you may be curious to know what it is and where it came from. While there are a number of reasons you might see a purple spot on lip tissue, it may be a case of purpura. Here’s what you should know about this condition.
What Is Purpura?
Injuries, steroid use and medications that affect the blood platelets or clotting may factor in the development of purpura. Purpura may also be associated with various conditions, such as amyloidosis, congenital rubella syndrome or congenital cytomegalovirus. Hemangioma, a growth caused by blood vessels building up abnormally in the skin, and vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels, may lead to purpura.
In some cases, these spots may appear due to bleeding disorders that reduce the number of platelets, the cells that help your blood clot. An example of this is idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. This disorder occurs when the immune system destroys the platelets and affects the blood’s ability to clot. This can result in bleeding into the skin. This particular type of purpura is more common in women than men, states the NIH.
Other Possible Causes of Dark Spots on Lips
Purpura isn’t the only possible cause of dark spots on the lips. Dark spots can also form due to melasma, a common skin problem where brown or gray patches form on the skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, these patches usually develop on parts of the body that get a lot of sun exposure, like the cheeks or forehead, but can also form near the lips. This condition can be treated with sun protection, like wearing a wide-brimmed hat while outside and applying sunscreen.
Dark spots on the lips can also be caused by pigmented contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction, explains a review published by the Journal of Pigmentary Disorders. When allergens come into contact with the lips, the skin can develop reddish, brown or gray discoloration. These allergens may include ingredients in lipsticks.
Vitamin deficiencies are another possible cause of dark spots on the lips. For example, B12 deficiencies may cause hyperpigmentation and result in brown spots on the lips and other parts of the skin, reports Clinical Observations.
If you’ve noticed a dark spot on your lip, or any other changes to the skin on your lips, see your doctor or dentist as soon as possible.
Discovering a purple spot on your lip that was never there before can be scary, and you may be curious to know what it is and where it came from. While there are a number of reasons you might see a purple spot on lip tissue, it may be a case of purpura. Here's what you should know about this condition.