We all know the places on the face that show the first signs of aging are the ones that get the most use, and one of those places is the lips and the area around them. To some extent, it’s natural for these areas to get fine lines and wrinkles because they’re one of the most expressive parts of the body. From talking to smiling and frowning, repetitive motions will, inevitably, cause some wrinkles.
But there are a few things you can do to help keep wrinkles at bay.
Does Drinking from a Straw or Water Bottle Contribute to Lines?
While there’s no proof that drinking water has a direct effect on your skin, what you drink out of may contribute to wrinkles. When you purse your lips around something like a straw or water bottle top, you’re contracting the muscle around your mouth, the orbucularis oris (8 Keys to Great Skin).
However, drinking from a straw may not have as dire of consequences as some would have you believe. Repetitive motion will, inevitably, increase the risk of wrinkles, but if you have a beverage or two from a straw during the week, it probably won’t cause serve lines unless you’re prone to lines and wrinkles around the mouth.
Dermatologists Dr. Rebecca Baxt and Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd explained it by comparing the damage to that from smoking. While regular smokers have the added issue of free-radical accumulation, they also likely spend more time than most people do with their lips purse — something like 100 minutes a day, or 20 cigarettes that take five minutes each to smoke (Huffington Post).
If you find yourself drinking from straws constantly, you might want to change your habits. So, consider keeping straw sipping to a minimum, but don’t rule it out altogether. After all, if you’re drinking something like cola, which has phosphoric acid, or another tooth-damaging beverage, a straw helps protect your enamel (your teeth and dentist will thank you). Just try to limit is as much as possible.
No Surprise: Smoking Definitely Causes Wrinkles
If you’re a smoker, you’re at a greater mix for a lot of things. After all, smoking is the leading cause of premature death. But it can also cause premature wrinkles among a host of other skin problems (American Journal of Public Health). Some studies show that smokers can end up with wrinkle damage that’s two to three times the norm. And though you can’t see them as quickly, they’re apparent from pretty early on, showing up in microscopic tests even on young smokers (International Journal of Dermatology). And women have it worse than men; they’re more susceptible to the wrinkles that come from smoking.
In addition to the increased risk of wrinkling, come the increased risks of basal and squamous cell carcinoma, and reduced wound healing, to name a few (Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery).
Worse news still: Smoking and sun exposure have a synergistic effect, meaning that the two together do even more damage than just one or the other. That’s because the UV-radiation activates the phototoxic properties of cigarette smoke. And studies have shown that smokers tend to have more wrinkles as a result of sun damage than non-smokers.
Add to this the repetitive motion and free radical damage and you’ve got a recipe for a lot of wrinkles all over, but particularly around the lips.
Sun Damage Definitely Causes Lip Wrinkles
Studies that look at people who drive a lot, such as professional truck drivers, have far more wrinkles on one side of their face than the other as the result of sun damage (New England Journal of Medicine). In fact, sun damage accounts for a majority of wrinkles and how much unprotected exposure you get can be an indicator of how soon until you start seeing wrinkles.
And people are far more likely to think of the skin on their body and face than the skin on their lips. One study found that while people knew the risk of cancer when it comes to sun damage on skin, they were much less knowledgeable about cancer on their lips. Women were more likely than men to use lip sunscreen (Dermatologic Surgery).
Since lips are one of the first things to show signs of aging, you’ll see the effects of sun damage pretty quickly. And that damage will exacerbate the wrinkles you might have gotten from anything else (like repetitive motion). That’s why it’s important to use a sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 (American Academy of Dermatology). And remember that the sun is out and can burn you even in the winter and even when it’s overcast outside.
When it comes to lip protection, there are plenty of balms:
Kiss My Face Sport Lip Balm SPF 30 ($10.32 for three, amazon.com) — With organic beeswax and Shea butter, this lip balm with do some mega moisturizing. But if you’re sensitive to coconut oil, you’ll want to skip this one.
Aquaphor Lip Repair + Protect, SPF 30 ($13.99 for three, amazon.com) — Petrolatum and glycerin are pretty much the classics in lip softening, moisturizing, and protection. And with good reason: They work.
Purple Prarie SunStuff, SPF 30 ($4.49, amazon.com) — Zinc oxide is tops when it comes to sun protection. It has broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB-irradiation and works as a physical sunscreen, actually blocking rays from entering your skin.
Neutrogena MoistureShine Lip Soother with SPF 20 ($5.99, amazon.com) — With plenty of colors to choose from, there’s no reason not to use a gloss with SPF. Bonus points if you double protect by first layering a lip balm with SPF 30 underneath.
Drinking straws likely won’t cause wrinkles to the degree that smoking and sun damage will, but any repetitive motion can increase the risk of wrinkles. If you really want to avoid lip wrinkles, it’s a good idea to wear sunscreen regularly, moisturize plenty, quit smoking if you’re a smoker, and limit how often you do things like drinking from straws. These few tips can stave off quite a bit of the damage that ends up leaving many people’s lips with wrinkles and lines.
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