If there’s one part of the body that you look the most at, it has to be your face. We spend a good amount of time each day examining our skin in the mirror. We usually have an agenda, like taking a good look at a small zit, trying to get rid of a pesky blackhead or tweezing a hair on the chin. However, sometimes we do it just for the heck of it, to notice any sorts of changes on the face. During one of these examining sessions, you may have come across smile lines on your face. Everyone has smile lines, for some, it's hardly visible while for others it's more prominent. They are not harmful in any way, but can be annoying at times, especially when you are setting makeup and the powder settles there.

We have a lot of questions about smile lines and we are guessing you do too, so we got celebrity dermatologist Dr. Chytra Anand of Kosmoderma to answer them for us. Keep reading to find out what smile lines are, the types, their prevention and treatment options.

 

What are smile lines?

What are smile lines?

Smile lines are usually known as laugh lines. They are vertical lines that run from the edge of the nostril to the corner of the mouth and the crinkles or wrinkles seen around the eyes. The act of smiling leads to the muscle action that causes the wrinkling of the skin, known as the nasolabial folds and crow's feet.

Types of smile lines

There are two types of smile lines —  static lines and dynamic lines.

Dynamic lines are the lines seen on muscle action or on the movement of smiling or laughing. Crow's feet lines are typically dynamic, and when unattended to or left untreated, tend to become static.

Static lines are present even at rest due to loss of volume or loss of collagen and elastin in the skin in this area and the constant laugh action leading to skin atrophy over time. The nasolabial fold is a naturally occurring skin crease that is present in most people. Over time, changes in the tissue structure lead to the deepening of this crease, turning it into a nasolabial fold.

If you look at school and college kids, even they have dynamic smile lines, but as we age, this gets set and becomes static, leading to an aged appearance. Adhering to the two critical skincare steps and lifestyle modification, the onset of smile lines can be delayed and controlled.

 

What causes smile lines?

What causes smile lines?

Sometimes, people from the same age group may have different types of smile lines on the face. This is because the appearance of smile lines depends on many factors like lifestyle and skincare habits. Here are some common causes of laugh lines looking more prominent.

  • Loss of elasticity (collagen)
  • Dehydrated skin
  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • Sun damage

 

How to prevent smile lines?

How to prevent smile lines?

A healthy skincare routine from a young age will help delay the onset of smile lines. Keeping your skin and body hydrated is key to the prevention of smile lines on the face. Regular exfoliation and sun protection will also keep laugh lines at bay.

1. Sun protection

Sun protection

The use of sun protection or sunscreen daily with a minimum SPF value of 40 is essential. It should be applied evenly on the face 20 minutes before stepping out or exposure to the sun, as well as applied every 3 to 4 hours. This simple yet critical step in your skincare routine will prevent collagen degradation in the skin and prevent smile lines of the face.

2. Exfoliation

Exfoliation

Active exfoliation of the skin with alpha-hydroxy acids like glycolic acid or lactic acid or beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid is crucial in maintaining the skin’s texture and cell turnover. Regular exfoliation of the skin stimulates the skin cell turnover keeping the skin youthful. Exfoliating the skin with active ingredients at least once in 2 weeks from the age of 25 should be part of everyone's skin routine. AHA and BHA exfoliation can be done at a dermatologist’s clinic to prevent smile lines on the face.

3. Avoid or stop smoking

Avoid or stop smoking

Smoking leads to free radical damage in the skin, which accelerates the skin ageing process, faster collagen degradation, leading to the accentuation of smile lines on the face. The best way to stop this is to give up smoking. Antioxidants like curcumin, alpha lipoic acid, glutathione, ubiquinone, bioflavonoids fight the free radical damage and boost skin renewal. Hence smokers are advised to be on antioxidant boosters to prevent and fight off the free radical damage.

4. Hydration

Hydration

Skin hydration is a critical step in maintaining toned skin. Well-hydrated skin produces better collagen and prevents its breakdown. Using serums or elixirs with sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid will help protect skin from surface dehydration. To main skin hydration and suppleness, it is also advised to drink alcohol in moderation. Drinking sufficient fluids with electrolytes daily will maintain the deep hydration of the skin.

 

What are the treatment options for smile lines?

What are the treatment options for smile lines?

Treatment of dynamic lines

The only way to prevent dynamic lines from forming is to relax the muscle through Botox/Dysport/Xeomin injections. It is injected into the muscle to relax the muscle actions that lead to dynamic lines. Results take 4 – 7 days to kick in and last up to 6 months.

Treatment of static lines

Fillers made of hyaluronic acid gel are injected under the nasolabial fold to smoothen out the appearance of the fold. There is an immediate improvement in the nasolabial fold leading to a younger appearance. The results last up to 18 months. Typically 1ml of the products is used to soften the smile lines on the face.

1. Radio Frequency & High Frequency Ultrasound based devices

Radio Frequency & High Frequency Ultrasound based devices

Heat paste stimulation using radio frequency devices like micro-needling, intragen or ultrasound devices like ultherapy stimulate the skin to produce fresh collagen and remodel the existing collagen leading to skin tightening and a non-surgical facelift. Depending on the device, the number of sessions can range from 1 – 4. Ultherapy is US FDA approved for deep skin stimulation and is safe for Indian skin. The treatment takes 3 months and lasts for up to 2 – 3 years.

2. Thread lift

Thread lift

Non-surgical, resorbable threads are a popular treatment to get rid of smile lines on the face. It gives instant results that can last up to 9 – 12 months. Here threads made of suture material are placed under the skin giving the skin traction, leading to a non-surgical facelift effect instantly.

 

Treating smile lines at home

Treating smile lines at home

Apart from the above-mentioned treatments, you can also try a few things at home to treat smile lines on the face. Right from OTC creams to active facials, you can try these different treatment methods to get rid of smile lines.

DIY active facials that are infused with AHA, BHA can be quite beneficial for treating smile lines at home. These active ingredients exfoliate the top layer of the skin and make the smile lines appear less prominent.

Over-the-counter creams infused with retinol and peptides stimulate skin collagen to plump up the skin and fade the smile lines on your face. Take your dermatologist’s suggestion for the right amount of retinol for your skin type, instead of self-medicating.

Ceramide-based skin barrier creams protect the skin barrier and keep the skin moisturised & hydrated. Hydrated skin stays plump and healthy, which means the smile lines won’t become too prominent. It is a common ingredient added to many skincare products, read the label to find one or ask your dermatologist to suggest one for you.