You’ve worked hard for them. They represent years of cherished memories with those you love. So why does it cause so much anguish when you look in the mirror and see your laugh lines stretching and deepening? Unfortunately, they aren’t typically perceived as being as funny as the many moments that built them, but the positive is that you have options when it comes to improving the appearance of the area around your mouth.
One such option is topical formulas loaded with key ingredients to help firm, fill, strengthen, and smooth. We’ve tapped board-certified dermatologists to share some of their favorite over-the-counter creams and serums to help minimize the appearance of laugh lines so you can continue smiling with abandon.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation and environmental pollutants creates free radicals that directly damage skin cells’ DNA. These accelerate the aging process and result in texture changes, wrinkles, and folds, cautions Jennifer Herrmann, MD, Beverly Hills board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon. “The Caviar & CashmereTM Regenerating Serum ($98) is packed with vitamins C and E and ferulic acid, which are potent antioxidants that neutralize these damaging oxidants, helping skin stay healthy and young[-looking],” explains Herrmann. She also notes that that the serum is free of fragrance, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, making it ideal for sensitive skin.
This Alastin Skincare® Restorative Skin Complex ($195) contains mushroom extract, which Rita Linkner, MD, New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist, shares may help protect skin from future damage. “It also features a peptide complex for leaving laugh lines looking plump, and lends a fantastic glow to the face, further concealing laugh lines,” Dr. Linkner says. She recommends her patients use it twice daily — once in the morning and then again at night.
The Kiehl’s® Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate ($65) contains hyaluronic acid (which helps draw moisture to the skin), as well as vitamin C. According to Howard Sobel, MD, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon in New York, the latter boosts collagen production. “It’s a waterless formula, which helps stabilize the vitamin C. It applies smoothly and absorbs quickly into the skin,” Dr. Sobel explains. He also points out the bottle’s airless pump, which helps prevent the vitamin C from oxidizing.
Like many skin experts, Dr. Sobel hails retinol as one of the gold standard ingredients when it comes to anti-aging. “Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that’s been tested thoroughly for decades. It plumps the skin by stimulating collagen production, while helping to minimize the appearance of [fine] lines. The Neutrogena® Rapid Wrinkle Repair® Anti-Aging Serum ($18) pairs retinol with a glucose complex and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump the skin,” he says.
[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by those who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.]
Dr. Linkner has also come to rely on the SkinMedica® HA⁵® Rejuvenating Hydrator ($120), which boasts a mix of five different types of hyaluronic acid to moisturize and temporarily plump the appearance of the skin. “[The formula] supports the skin’s natural ability to replenish its own hyaluronic acid, boosting hydration in the skin for less noticeable laugh lines,” she says. Read our senior editor’s review of the Rejuvenating Hydrator here.
This Neova® Serious GlyPeelTM Peel-Off Mask ($58) contains a gentle glycolic acid, which Dr. Linkner says helps to tighten and brighten skin without irritating it. “This two-in-one glycolic treatment — a peel and mask in one — leaves skin glowing so laugh lines look less visible,” she shares. “It’s also fun to use, as it peels off in one sheet 10 minutes after application. It’s my weekly skin treat,” Dr. Linkner adds.
Dr. Sobel recommends the Avène® PhysioLift® Serum ($50) for those with sensitive skin, as it contains the brand’s signature ingredient: soothing spring water. “It contains trace minerals for helping to restore the epidermal barrier, along with silicates for softening skin, and amino acids, sugars, and lipopolysaccharides from microflora that have skin-regenerative properties,” he says. The formula also contains brown algae extracts that help support collagen production, and two different forms of hyaluronic acid. “One weight of hyaluronic acid stays on the surface of the skin so you can see an instant plumping effect,” he explains. “The smaller molecular weight of hyaluronic acid is able to penetrate deeper into the skin, which helps hydrate and firm the skin over time.”
SkinMedica® is an Allergan®-owned skincare line.
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