The lips are the focal point of the face. They are the most expressive feature and can convey a multitude of emotions. From a pout to a smile, the lips can say it all. And, when it comes to cosmetic enhancements, the lips are one of the most popular areas to treat. There are many different types of lips and a variety of ways to enhance them. This article will explore the different types of lips and some of the most popular cosmetic enhancements to improve their appearance.
Understanding Your Lips On A Deeper Level
Let’s get into the science of lips and break down their actual anatomy. What are they? What are they made of?
Well, lips consist of a mix of fat, muscle, and blood vessels. The majority of the lip is made up of the red lip mucosa, which is the layer you see when you look at someone’s lips. This layer is actually quite thin, which is why lips are so sensitive. Underneath the red lip mucosa is a thin layer of white lip mucosa.
They’re moved by the two main muscles of the lip, the orbicularis oris muscle and the depressor labii inferioris muscle. The orbicularis oris muscle is what allows you to make expressions like smiling and pouting, while the depressor labii inferioris muscle is responsible for lowering your bottom lip.
Lips are lined with mucous membranes, which produce a lubricating substance called mucin. This helps to keep the lips moist and protected from infection. Your lips also have sebaceous glands that produce sebum, an oily substance that helps to keep your lips moisturized.
And like all other parts of your body, your lips are covered in tiny hair follicles. These are called vibrissae. You may have noticed the fine hairs on your upper lip, which are often more noticeable in people with lighter hair.
The Parts Of The Lip
The labium superius oris and labium inferius oris are the technical terms for the upper lip and lower lip, respectively. They each have several parts, which are:
The philtrum is the indentation that runs from the base of your nose to the center of your upper lip. It’s believed that this indentation is formed during fetal development when the nasal processes fuse together.
The commissures are the corners of your mouth. They are also known as the nasolabial folds or marionette lines.
The Vermillion Border
The vermillion border is the line that delineates the red lip mucosa from the rest of your skin. It’s usually a bit darker than the surrounding skin and is where your lips get their natural color from.
Tubercles are small, raised bumps on the lips. They are also known as papillae. You can see them on your own lips if you look closely. They help to give your lips their rough texture.
The Cupid’s bow is the double curve that forms the center of your upper lip. It gets its name from its resemblance to a bow used by the Roman god Cupid.
Now that you know a little bit more about the anatomy of lips, let’s take a look at the different types of lips people can have.
Different Types of Lips
While they all come in pairs, lips are unique in the way that they are shaped and sized. The size, shape, fullness, and color of your lips are all determined by your genes (or of course, injectables should you choose to get them). Here are the different types of lips people can have:
The gull wing gets its name from its resemblance to the wing of a seagull. It is characterized by a pointed cupid’s bow and slightly flared corners.
Sausage lips are characteristically round and full. They keep a similar width from the philtrum all the way to the corners of the mouth and don’t have a pronounced Cupid’s bow.
Full lips are very much what you would assume them to be – full. They maintain a traditional lip shape with a defined cupid’s bow and well-defined commissures.
Shelf lips are thinner by nature and can appear to look stacked upon one another like a shelf, hence their name.
This lip type is pretty self-explanatory. They have a full inner lip but a very thin outer rim.
Double Lobe Upper
Were you paying attention when we were talking about tubercles earlier? This lip type has two of them, right at the center of the upper lip giving it a double lobed appearance.
Triple Lobe Upper
This is similar to the double lobe upper, except there are three tubercles instead of two.
Double Lobe Lower
Again, this is just like the double lobe upper, but on the lower lip.
Common Lip Imperfections
Regardless of their type or size, lips are all prone to developing imperfections. Here is an overview of the most common as well as a breakdown of what treatment options are available for each.
Lip lines are wrinkles or creases that form on the lips with age. You may have noticed them already, particularly if you smoke or spend a lot of time in the sun.
Causes of Lip Lines
There are a few different things that can cause lip lines, the most common of which are:
- Aging: As you age, your skin produces less collagen and elastin, which are two proteins that keep your skin plump and hydrated. This can cause the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, including on the lips.
- Smoking: Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your skin. The act of smoking itself can cause fine lines and wrinkles, while the ingredients in cigarettes can further damage your skin and lead to premature aging.
- Excessive sun exposure: Too much time in the sun can damage your skin and lead to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, including on the lips.
- Dehydration: If your skin is not properly hydrated, it can become dry, tight, and more prone to wrinkling.
Treatment Options For Lip Lines
If you’ve tried to treat your lip lines with skincare routines, lotions, and serums to no avail, rest assured that cosmetic treatments can help. The following are some of the most popular.
- Botox: Botox injections work by relaxing the muscles to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. They are most commonly used to treat forehead wrinkles, but can also be used to reduce the appearance of lip lines.
Botox treatment for lip lines involves targeting the Orbicularis Oris muscle. This is the primary muscle that causes puckering and can be overactive in some people, leading to deeper wrinkles. An injection of Botox into this muscle can help to relax it, smooth out the appearance of lines and plump the lips’ overall shape.
The great thing about Botox is that it’s a relatively inexpensive form of treatment to receive, however, it’s worth noting that results are temporary and will usually last for about six weeks.
- Fillers: Fillers are a popular option for treating lip lines, as they can also help to plump the lips. There are a variety of filler types available, all of which work by injecting a substance into the skin to add volume.
The most common type of filler used for lip lines is hyaluronic acid, which is a substance that naturally occurs in the body. This type of filler can be broken down by the body over time, so the results are not permanent.
Other types of fillers that are sometimes used to treat lip lines include collagen and fat grafting. These are both permanent options, however, they are also much more expensive and invasive than hyaluronic acid fillers.
- PDO Threads | Novathreads: NovaThreads are a newer, yet quickly popularizing form of treatment for lip lines. They use small, dissolvable threads that are inserted into the skin to boost its collagen production. The threads also help to lift and tighten the skin, which can smooth out the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
NovaThreads are a minimally-invasive treatment option with little-to-no down time. Results can last for up to two years, making them a semi-permanent solution for lip lines.
Corner Lip Drops
As we age, the skin around our mouths can begin to droop, particularly at the corners. This can give the appearance of a sad or downturned mouth, and can also contribute to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Causes of Lip Drops
There are a few different things that can cause this drooping, including the loss of collagen and elastin, gravity, and smoking.
Fortunately, there are a few different treatment options available to help lift the corners of the mouth and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
Treatments for Lip Drops
- Botox: As we already mentioned, Botox works by relaxing the muscles it’s injected into. This can help to smooth out the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and even though it sounds counterintuitive, lift drooping skin.When used to treat drooping at the corners of the mouth, Botox is injected into the Depressor Anguli Oris muscle. This is the muscle that pulls the corners of the mouth down, so by relaxing it with Botox, the appearance of drooping can be improved.
- Fillers: Both lip downturns and marionette lines can be addressed with the use of fillers.
Fillers can help to plump up the lips, adding volume and fullness. They can also be used to fill in any depressions in the skin, which can help to smooth out the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
One type of filler that’s particularly good for this purpose is Voluma. This is a type of hyaluronic acid filler that’s specifically designed to add volume to the cheeks.
It can also be used to fill in marionette lines and lift the corners of the mouth, making it a versatile option for treating these types of concerns. Results of this treatment are immediate and can last anywhere between 10 and 12 months.
Thin Or Imperfectly Shaped Lips
We’ve already explained the many types of lips that are out there, from bow lips to heart-shaped lips. But what if you’re not happy with the shape or fullness of your lips?
There are a few different options available for addressing this concern. Keep in mind that the best treatment for you will depend on your specific goals, concerns, and of course, mouth.
- Botox: Botox has long been used to enhance lip size and shape. It can be used to add volume to thin lips, and can also be injected into the philtrum (the area between the nose and upper lip) to create the illusion of a fuller, more pouty lip.
Botox can also be used to minimize a gummy smile by relaxing the muscles that control the upper lip. This can help to create a more balanced, aesthetically-pleasing smile.
- Fillers: As we mentioned, fillers can also be used to add volume and fullness to the lips. There are a variety of different types of fillers available, each with its own benefits.
For instance, Juvederm is a hyaluronic acid filler that can be used to add volume and plumpness to the lips. It’s a popular choice for this purpose because it’s very effective and results are long-lasting (up to a year).
Restylane Silk is another option that’s specifically designed for adding volume and fullness to the lips. It’s a smooth, clear gel that’s made of hyaluronic acid, and can be used to plump up thin lips and smooth out any lines or wrinkles around the mouth. Results of this treatment typically last for 6 to 9 months.
- Lip Lift: If you’re unhappy with the shape of your lips, a lip lift may be a good option for you. This is a surgical procedure that’s designed to improve the shape of the lips.
There are a few different lip lifts available, each with its own benefits. The most common type of lip lift is the bullhorn lip lift, which involves making a small incision at the base of the nose. This helps to create the illusion of fuller, more pouty lips.
Another type of lip lift is the corner mouth lift, which as the name suggests, is designed to lift the corners of the mouth. This can help to create a more youthful appearance and can also be used to address marionette lines.
Lip lifts are typically done as outpatient procedures, and recovery time is usually pretty short (around a week).
Results of this treatment are permanent, so it’s important to make sure you’re happy with the results before proceeding.
- Laser Lip Treatment: Laser lip treatment is another option that can be used to improve the appearance of thin or imperfectly shaped lips. This treatment uses laser energy to stimulate the production of collagen, which can help to plump up the lips and smooth out any lines or wrinkles around the mouth.
Laser lip treatment is generally considered to be safe and effective, and there is minimal recovery time involved. Results of this treatment are typically long-lasting, and can last for up to a year.