ginger hair woman holding a Nivea Q10 face cream

How to Reduce Nasolabial Folds: 10 Causes & 6 Care Options

Nasolabial folds, also known as smile lines, naturally appear with age. Find out what causes them and how you can reduce their appearance.


Also known as smile or laugh lines, nasolabial folds are creases that run from the sides of your nose diagonally downwards to the corners of your mouth. These smile lines are a type of dynamic wrinkle, meaning they appear more prominent whilst pulling facial expressions. They appear with age as Collagen production slows, but can also be deepened by sun-induced damage and other stressors.

As the name suggests, smile and laugh wrinkles signify a life full of joy, so should be celebrated. If a more youthful complexion is your goal though, there are a number of methods available to get rid of, or at least reduce nasolabial folds. These range from cosmetic procedures to massages and topical creams.


The underlying cause of smile lines appearing is a decrease in the amount of Collagen and Elastin present in the skin, leading to its creasing and folding. Although this occurs naturally with age, deeper nasolabial folds can be caused by UV damage, smoking and weight changes.

Recap: Why is Collagen important for the skin?

Collagen is a protein that we naturally produce, it provides structure, strength and support throughout our body. Abundant levels are what keep skin firm, youthful and supple.

The following are all causes or contributors to the appearance of laugh lines:
woman smiling

1) Age
From as early as our 20s, Collagen levels can reduce by 1% each year. Lower levels of Collagen lead to wrinkling and sagging skin. Our facial structure also changes with age as once high cheekbones begin to flatten, leading to nasolabial folds.

2) Sun Damage (Photoaging)
When UV rays penetrate the skin they disturb processes important for its regeneration and repair. In the short-term sun damage can cause sunburn, long-term it weakens connective tissue, leading to the appearance of wrinkles, lines and dark spots.

3) Smoking
Both the nicotine and thousands of other harmful substances in the smoke can harm the skin, due to the oxidative stress that harms Collagen formation. Studies have further shown that skin in nasolabial folds is thicker in smokers than in non-smokers. Facial expressions pulled whilst smoking can also contribute to smile lines.

4) Changes in Weight
It’s common to experience excess skin after weight loss, which can sag and accentuate the appearance of facial lines. Whereas weight gain can cause the cheeks to grow in size, also increasing the appearance of laugh lines.


5) Dehydrated Skin
Dehydrated skin is different to dry skin: it refers to a lack of water as opposed to a lack of natural oils. One of the characteristics of dehydrated skin is a sunken or shadowy complexion, causing wrinkles to be more defined.

6) Genetics
The amount of Collagen and Elastin you produce is influenced by your genetic makeup. If your parents had prominent nasolabial folds, chances are you will also get them.

7) High Sugar Diet
As much as we might enjoy a sweet treat, unfortunately sugar breaks down both Collagen and Elastin - leading to laugh lines becoming more prominent. This doesn’t mean you should stop enjoying delicious cake but should try to limit the amount of sugar in your diet overall.

8) Repetitive Facial Expressions
To begin with, nasolabial folds may only appear as dynamic wrinkles when you laugh or smile. Over time these repetitive expressions can cause the dynamic wrinkles to become static as skin loses its ability to snap back into place. Consider these a permanent reminder of the good times!

9) Pollution
Air pollution such as smog and car fumes can cause free-radical damage to the skin, disrupting its defensive barrier. One of the effects of this is accelerated skin ageing, leading to nasolabial folds.

10) Sleep Deprivation
Skin enters its natural regeneration and repair process as you sleep, rebuilding its defensive barrier and producing Collagen. Therefore without enough beauty sleep, your skin has a harder time staying plump and firm.

woman smiling

To begin with, nasolabial folds may only appear as dynamic wrinkles when you laugh or smile. 


Without undergoing potentially costly and invasive treatments, there is no way to completely get rid of nasolabial folds. There are plenty of ways to reduce their appearance though, including topical creams, facial massages and light therapy.

Here’s how to reduce laugh lines:
How to Get Rid of Smile Lines

1) Facial Massages

There are claims that facial massages can treat signs of ageing by plumping skin and stimulating Collagen production. Although evidence of success is limited, there is no harm in giving your face a regular massage to try and reduce lines.

How to Get Rid of Smile Lines

2) Topical Day Creams

Creams such as the NIVEA Cellular Expert Lift Pure Bakuchiol Anti-Age Day Cream SPF 30 contain effective ingredients that nourish skin and support the production of Collagen. Use daily will help to smooth lines and redefine contours.

How to Get Rid of Smile Lines

3) Topical Night Creams

Along with an effective day cream, using a night cream that helps to support your skin's natural regeneration and repair process as you sleep can help redefine your facial contours. Ingredients such as Q10, Bakuchiol and Folic Acid all have proven anti-aging effects.

How to Get Rid of Smile Lines

4) Facial Exercises

These are something you can try every day that help to strengthen the muscles on the face, helping to make smile lines appear less prominent. Evidence to support how effective they are is limited, but they are safe and free for you to try.

How to Get Rid of Smile Lines

5) Light Therapy

LED light therapy is used to treat several skin concerns and conditions. During treatment LED light penetrates the skin in an attempt to boost regeneration, reducing signs of ageing. Generally, regular sessions of therapy alongside a skincare routine are needed to see benefits.

How to Get Rid of Smile Lines

6) Surgical or Cosmetic Solutions

Probably the most effective, yet least natural way to get rid of nasolabial folds is cosmetic treatments. These range from fillers and micro-needling to full facelifts. It is recommended to try skincare routine and natural solutions before proceeding down this route. When considering anything invasive, consult your GP for further advice.


woman using Nivea Q10 face cream

The NIVEA Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Power Expert Targeted Wrinkle Filler Serum offers an advanced solution against wrinkles. Combining pure Coenzyme Q10 with Bioxifill Peptides to penetrate skin 10 layers deep, helping stimulate Collagen production and give near-instant wrinkle filling results.


Work this solution into part of your anti-aging face care routine, after cleansing and before applying your moisturiser to see a reduction in smile lines over time. 

Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that helps to recharge and rejuvenate skin. The NIVEA Q10 range has been carefully created to meet the needs of different skin types, protect cells from damage and slow the process of ageing. Including these products in your skincare routine can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time.


Unfortunately the answer here is no, they are a natural part of ageing and even children have them when they laugh or smile. There are things you can do to prevent them from deepening, which generally means avoiding the causes.

To try and reduce the deepening of smile lines, you can:
1) Avoid smoking
2) Apply SPF everyday
3) Eat a healthy diet
4) Get plenty of exercise
5) Have a personalised skincare routine that you stick to
6) Get 7-9 hours sleep each night
7) Keep hydrated
dark hair girl looking on her left side

 Muscles on the face can be toned like elsewhere on the body, helping to better control expressions.


How to Massage Nasolabial Folds

To reduce nasolabial folds naturally, you can give them a massage every day. Massaging aims to improve skin structure and prevent sagging. Here are a few tips to carry out the massage:

- Using your knuckles, swipe downwards from your cheekbones to your chin and back
- Repeat this process approximately 20 times on each side of your face
- Apply a light amount of pressure
- Repeat every day as part of your skincare routine


Facial Exercises to Try & Reduce Nasolabial Folds Naturally

Muscles on the face can be toned like elsewhere on the body, helping to better control expressions. When repeated over time, you may see a reduction in smile lines. You can give the following a try every day, without risking any harm:

- Push your lips upwards as though you are trying to kiss the sky and hold for 15-20 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
- Pull the corners of your mouth apart with your index fingers whilst contracting your facial muscles in slight resistance. Hold for 2-3 seconds and repeat 30 times.
- Pout your lips whilst pulling the corners of your mouth out. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 5 times.
- Gently lift your cheekbones using the palms of your hands whilst pouting your lips out in a kissing motion. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat 5 times.


Fortunately for men, their skin is denser in Collagen so usually appears younger than that of  women of the same age. Men’s skin structure is slightly different to women's, so therefore requires different care. Most broad skincare advice still applies, but what men put on their faces should reflect the needs of their skin.

NIVEA MEN Anti-Age Hyaluron products have been formulated with Hyaluronic Acid to keep skin hydrated whilst reducing signs of ageing. Regular use of these products over time will help to plump, firm and smooth skin, visibly reducing deep wrinkles and strengthening its elasticity.


In case you still have any questions about smile lines, here are a few more common questions and answers on the topic:
dark hair girl smiling

Smile lines appear at any age as a dynamic wrinkle, however, they begin to appear more static between the ages of 25-30


At what age do nasolabial folds appear?
Smile lines appear at any age as a dynamic wrinkle, however, they begin to appear more static between the ages of 25-30. As Collagen production slows they begin to deepen: at age 40 they will generally be visible on most people's resting face and at age 50 will be more marked.

Who is more likely to get nasolabial folds?
In short, everyone. Those taking better care of their skin and living a healthier lifestyle may see them appear more faintly or later in life; whereas those neglecting their skin and leading an unhealthy lifestyle may see them earlier and deeper. Genetics will also influence who has more pronounced smile lines.

Are nasolabial folds attractive?
Yes! They definitely can be as they are a sign of a life full of laughter and smiles. 

Does losing weight reduce nasolabial folds?
Gradual weight loss can decrease the prominence of smile lines as cheeks will not be so full. Rapid weight loss can make them appear more pronounced though due to excess skin.

How to sleep to avoid nasolabial folds?
Try to sleep on your back or without the lower half of your face touching the pillow. Also, make sure to apply a night cream before putting your head down for the night.

Does stress cause nasolabial folds?
Yes, it can. Stress has all sorts of effects on the skin, one of those being accelerated signs of aging. High levels of stress are likely to lead to premature signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.

Does alcohol affect nasolabial folds?
Alcohol consumption is likely to contribute to deeper nasolabial folds. One of the effects is dehydration, which can cause the skin to lose its elasticity and begin to droop. Another is that it speeds up the depletion of Collagen, further contributing to their appearance.

Does Hyaluronic Acid help nasolabial folds?
It certainly does; the most popular fillers contain Hyaluronic Acid as it helps to pad them and hinder the progression of wrinkles. Products containing Hyaluronic Acid can also help to hydrate, firm and plump skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles. 


The Cellular Expert Lift and Cellular Expert Filler ranges offer some of NIVEA’s most efficacious anti-age care. Combining Hyaluronic Acid with other superior anti-age actives, these products can help to improve the firmness of the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

dark hair girl smiling