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Those tiny vertical lines above the lips show up gradually as you get older. As people age, the loss of fat under the skin leads to fine wrinkles. The lip lines may be noticeable sooner if you have spent too much time sunbathing or if you are a smoker. While nothing can make these little lines go away forever, countless remedies are available to diminish their appearance -- as long as you have realistic expectations.

Use OTC Products

Drug stores, supermarkets and cosmetic counters are filled with over-the-counter products promising to tighten skin and diminish fine lines and wrinkles. Costs range from inexpensive to pricey, but price doesn’t necessarily equal effectiveness. Look for products containing such antioxidants as green tea, resveratrol, vitamin C or grape seed that work to repair wrinkle-causing free radicals in the skin. Retinol is a high concentration of Vitamin A that helps increase collagen production for firmer skin. Topical products may produce some improvement in the appearance of lip wrinkles, but they must be used regularly as directed.

Screen Out the Sun

Your most important cosmetic is actually a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30; use it every day, indoors and out. Years of exposure to the UV rays, either from the sun itself or from tanning beds, leads to visible damage, showing up as lines, wrinkles and skin cancer. Choose broad spectrum sunscreen that protects your skin against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for moisturizers or foundation makeup with built-in sunscreen protection.

Apply Makeup Tricks

Stay away from dark lipstick that accentuates the little lines; instead, opt for neutral shades. Use a lip liner in a shade close to your lipstick to prevent your lipstick from bleeding into the wrinkles. Temporary lip plumpers swell the lips slightly to give the appearance of fuller lips, decreasing the look of wrinkles. Gentle exfoliation will help remove dry skin; occasionally use a baby toothbrush with a dab of gentle exfoliator and lightly brush the lips and upper lip lines; rinse and apply moisturizer.

Try Mouth Exercises

Opinions differ on whether facial exercises are helpful or harmful. Books and kits with instructions and tools are available, and the Internet offers instructional videos. Take a selfie of your mouth before you start and again a month later to see if there is any improvement. Always perform exercises in front of a mirror. If the movement seems to deepen wrinkles, stop doing it. Try these from the Peak Fitness site: Open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue; hold the pose for a few seconds. Pucker your lips into an O, then give a big smile. Repeat each exercise 20 times.

Stop Smoking

Serious health complications comprise the main reason to steer clear of smoking, but this habit is also a leading cause of premature aging of the skin. Smoking causes biochemical changes, blocking essential vitamins A and C and allowing free radicals to invade your body, breaking down collagen. These changes lead to wrinkled, leathery skin. Even the simple act of pursing your lips to drag on a cigarette repeatedly etches wrinkles onto the skin around your lips. Medications and programs are available to help smokers quit the habit.

About the Author

Kay Bosworth

As a long-time newspaper reporter and staff writer, Kay Bosworth covered real estate development and business for publications in northern New Jersey. Her extensive career included serving as editor of a business education magazine for the McGraw-Hill Book Company. The Kentucky native earned a BA from Transylvania University in Lexington.