Isn’t it ironic (and incredibly frustrating) that the more we smile and laugh, the more pronounced our laugh lines become? Known as smile lines/laugh lines or nasolabial folds, these fine lines run from either side of the nose to the corners of the mouth. But facial expressions are not the only causative factor. “The loss of facial volume that occurs with aging is a big culprit,” says dermatologist Tina Alster. “Essentially, the foundation of the face “sags” and leads to the development and deepening of the nasolabial folds. Facial volume loss can be caused by natural aging, genetic predisposition, rapid weight loss, and certain medications.”

“Other factors that can cause more prominent nasolabial folds or laugh lines include smoking, environmental pollutants and sun exposure. Exposure to UV radiation accelerates the aging process, leading to wrinkles and uneven skin texture.”, adds dermatologist Dianne Davis. There is a chance that one smile line may also appear deeper than the other. This tends to happen on the left side of the face, which is more exposed to the sun while driving and can suffer more collagen damage.

So what approach should you take if your laugh lines are driving you crazy every time you look in the mirror?

Dermatologist Ava Shamban says it depends on their severity. “Topical skin care can help temporarily in many cases if the wrinkles are mild or moderate. If they extend from the corners of your nose to the corners of your mouth, then they are deeper. These will look like fully defined brackets with trailing shadows around your mouth. In these cases, interventions, such as fillers and lasers, will be needed for a visible result”. Here are some treatments you should know about if you are concerned about laugh lines.

Home remedies and skin care products for smile lines

For those people whose laugh lines are on the more moderate to mild side, Dr. Shamban says there are topical products, which may help alone or in combination, for temporary improvement. Here are some you can try:

  • Acid-based smoothing and filling products

“A chemical or natural exfoliant, including combinations of AHAs and BHAs, will help smooth the area”, says Dr. Shamban. “Polyglutamic acid will introduce hydration to keep skin plump and make laugh lines less visible around the mouth.”

  • Silicone patches

Silicone patches can create an environment that helps the skin retain moisture. “This keeps the area hydrated and looking plumper, reducing the visible signs of fine lines and wrinkles“, says Dr. Shamban.

  • Products containing retinol

“The best topical products for treating laugh lines are vitamin A derivatives”says plastic surgeon Daniel Ward. “Retinoids/retinol are the best choice as they help smooth the appearance of lines and wrinkles and boost collagen and elastin.

Treatments that you can do with the help of experts

  • Hyaluronic fillers

It is a solution with results that last longer. Over the past two decades, hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers have become the material of choice for dermal correction of our soft tissues. This is based on their ability to produce immediate, predictable and, in most cases, natural results in key areas of the face such as smile lines“, says Dr. Shamban.

  • CO2 laser treatments

“I personally think there is nothing better for laugh lines than a CO2 laser”, says Dr. Ward, who uses the Candela CO2RE laser. “CO2 laser treatments often need aggressive setups with multiple treatments, but they work amazingly well. They tighten the skin and also produce additional collagen to help reduce laugh lines and pigmentation in these areas.”.

  • Microneedling

Radiofrequency microneedling is another non-invasive option for improving the appearance of laugh lines. It involves providing energy to the skin to stimulate collagen and tighten the skin. “Treatments like Vivace and Morpheus8 can boost collagen and elastin production in the area for smoother, firmer skin”, says Dr. Shamban.