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How to Make Your Lips Thin

“Traditional” beauty standards tend to favor full lips. That’s why lip augmentation procedures are so popular and why it’s so common for people to seek “solutions” to thin and/or downturned lips.

But full lips bring challenges of their own, cosmetic and otherwise. Overly plump lips can affect oral function, with complications such as excessive or difficult-to-control drooling, imperfect mouth sealing, and difficulty speaking or chewing. Even if oral function isn’t affected, plump lips can have an outsize visual impact and affect facial proportions. This is especially likely if they’re uneven — that is, the lower or upper lip is larger than the other..

If you’re unhappy with your lips’ size or shape, there are ways to make your lips look smaller without traditional plastic surgery, which can have significant risks. And you’d be in good company: According to the 2022 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), lip augmentation procedures accounted for 17% of all cosmetic minimally invasive procedures performed in the United States.

Let’s take a look at some noninvasive or minimally invasive options.

How to Make Your Lips Thin Without Surgery 

If your lips are naturally large, or your top and bottom lips are uneven, you may be able to make your lips smaller or at least reduce their visual impact with at-home exercises, makeup tricks, or both.

At-Home Lip and Facial Exercises

Facial yoga is a fun, or at least distracting, way to subtly change the shape of your lips. Over time, these repetitive exercises build muscle in the lips and displace or burn off the fat responsible for lip plumpness. Try:

  • Stretching your mouth outward to expose your teeth (without using your fingers) and holding the position for 30 seconds, then relaxing and repeating five times.
  • Taking a deep breath, then closing your mouth and exhaling into your puffed cheeks, holding for 30 seconds and repeating several times.
  • Doing the same thing with your breath and cheeks, but puffing only one cheek at a time, alternating several times before breathing out.

These exercises won’t transform your lips’ shape overnight, but they can add tone and trim volume. For best results, pair them with makeup tricks.

Makeup Tricks for Thinner-Looking Lips

These simple makeup techniques can reduce your lips’ apparent volume:

  • Using lighter lip balm and lip gloss rather than darker tones that sharply define your lips.
  • Using lip liner, gloss, and/or balm to create “tone gradients” — darker in the middle, lighter toward the edges — that de-define your lip line (blending the outer parts of your lips into your facial skin).
  • Using heavier foundation and blush on your cheeks, nose, and chin, drawing attention away from your lips.

Fixing Artificially Plump Lips

What if your lips weren’t always this way? If you’ve had a cosmetic procedure to make your lips look fuller or otherwise change their appearance, you may be able to fix the issue without traditional plastic surgery.

You’ll still need to consult a licensed medical provider, such as a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon who performs minimally invasive cosmetic procedures, preferably one who has completed comprehensive lip filler training

The course of treatment will depend on the type of lip injection you received. For example, hyaluronic acid fillers can be reversed with an antidote called hyaluronidase, while permanent lip fillers must be removed by minor surgery.

Lip Surgery Options

If makeup tricks and minimally invasive options won’t work, you can explore lip reduction surgery. This entails removing excess tissue from the lips to make them appear thinner and more proportionate to the face. The incisions are typically made inside the mouth to minimize visible scarring.

Important Considerations 

It's important to have realistic expectations when pursuing any lip reduction or thinning procedure, surgical or non-surgical. While these treatments can help minimize the appearance of overly full lips, they may not be able to achieve dramatically thin or narrow lips. The goal should be to create a more balanced and proportionate lip appearance, not an unnaturally thin look.

Additionally, it's crucial to consult with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist to determine the best approach for your individual needs and facial anatomy. They can help you weigh the risks and benefits of each option and develop a treatment plan that aligns with your desired outcome.