What are laugh lines? Here are four examples.
- “The other day, I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don’t know what to feed it.”
- “Do illiterate people get the full effect of alphabet soup?”
- “Two cannibals were eating a clown – one said to the other, does he taste funny to you?”
- A woman says to her husband, “I’m getting old, look at all the wrinkles in my face.” The husband says, “Those aren’t wrinkles, dear, they’re laugh lines.” She says, “No, they’re wrinkles. Nothing could be THAT funny.”
Laugh lines in a comic’s monologue are supposed to be funny, but for many people with laugh lines on their face it’s no laughing matter. Those little laugh lines around the mouth that occur from mid-cheek to chin and form those parentheses around our lips, actually have a name: nasolabial folds. Sometimes, they’re called marionette lines, I guess because they make you look like you have a mouth like a puppet.
… people who worry about laugh lines so much might actually develop excessive worry lines.
For those readers who want the technical terms of things, laugh lines are the two skin folds that run from each side of the nose to the corners of the mouth. They are defined by facial structures that support the buccal fat pad. They separate the cheeks from the upper lip. The term derives from Latin nasus for “nose” and labium for “lip.” Okay, is that technical enough for you?
Laugh lines never bothered me. In fact, I always thought they gave my face a bit of character. But then I’m a guy not a gal; it’s different for ladies. Many women who are concerned with their looks don’t want to have character faces; they want to have leading lady faces. The last things they want to resemble are Howdy Doody or Jerry Mahoney.
But listen girls, if you walk around looking sour all the time because you are afraid that too much laughing will produce laugh lines, you can wipe that scowl off your face and start smiling again, because it’s not true. Nasolabial folds are not caused by years of laughter or smiling. People call them laugh lines simply because they are more obvious when you laugh.
According to Dr. Arash Akhavan, MD and founder of The Dermatology & Laser Group, those nasolabial folds are for many people a genetic characteristic and for others it’s something that happens with age, as we lose elasticity and fat in the mid-face. In other words, it’s a natural occurrence. And aren’t we constantly told being “natural” is a good thing?
For those who would rather not be so natural, there are always cosmetic and medical treatments to hide or do away with the lines. Besides the usual cover-up cosmetics, dermal fillings can be used to replace lost fats and collagen in the face. Can you say Botox? Can you say plastic? Can you say frozen face?
But if you don’t want to go to extreme facial altering measures, there are much simpler ways to limit the lines, the experts say. Preventive solutions such as reducing exposure to the sun, and not smoking are two. Using a moisturizer is another. They also recommend not sleeping on your side. Plastic surgeon Dr. Alex Karidis says, “If you sleep on your side or face down, pressure on the face literally causes the skin to wrinkle.”
One facial fitness guru claims that doing regular facial exercises that lifts the skin will minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles. (Don’t forget to use her products when you do this. Order now and receive another jar absolutely free. Just pay for additional shipping and handling).
It seems to me that people who worry about laugh lines so much might actually develop excessive worry lines. So, are worry lines better than laugh lines? Are all lines equal? If so, how come I always wind up standing in the longest line at the supermarket? Or how about this? Quit worrying about the laugh lines and enjoy life. Go ahead and laugh your head off hysterically if you want to.
Just don’t be sitting behind me at a movie or on a plane if you do, okay?
Greg Crosby is a writer and cartoonist and former executive at the Walt Disney Company.