I love my lips, so why do I forget to protect them?!
How is it that I can remember to apply my lipstick every morning before leaving the house, but somehow I always forget to protect my lips when I go to the beach? Who else has gotten pretty good at putting sunscreen on your face and body, but totally ignore your lips? I consider myself well educated when it comes to sun protection. Completely prepared for myself and my kids, I have big hats, sunglasses, rash guards, and of course a beach umbrella. But, what I realized when I was last at the beach, is that I completely neglected my lips.
Fortunately, because I’m always in the shade, I don’t think that I have done too much harm. But our lips are even more at risk for sun damage than the rest of our bodies. As Dr. Z. tells me, our lips don’t have pigment in them the way that our skin does. (That explains why they look red and not skin colored.) Our natural pigment, known as melanin, is like nature's sunscreen. It gives our skin protection (albeit a low amount) from the sun. Without that protection, our lips are more vulnerable to damage from UV light. Our lower lip is especially at risk because it points upwards. Unlike other parts of our bodies that may be protected by clothing, hats, or glasses, our lips are continually exposed.
Something else that I just learned is that our lip glosses may actually be increasing the risk of sun damage. Transparent glosses may actually help UV light penetrate BETTER through the outer skin layers of our lips. (This is similar to the way that baby oil makes us tan more quickly, not that I am encouraging anyone to do that!) So, not using a lip SPF and wearing a sheer gloss at the beach is actually a recipe for disaster. Dr. Z. tells me that opaque lipsticks, on the other hand, form a protective seal over the lips and may actually give some protection against the sun by simply by creating a physical barrier over the lips. So maybe this is even more of a reason to be obsessed with the all these new matte lipsticks on the market.
I think it’s really important to talk about lips because we often forget about them. While I certainly don’t want to think about it, we can get skin cancers on our lips just as we can on other parts of the body. Plus who wants to get wrinkly, spotted lips as we get older?
For these reasons, I say splurge on an SPF lip product. I finally made sure that I added it to my beach bag. Unlike traditional sunscreens, these products are formulated specifically for your lips. Regular sunscreen is not made for this areas, and I don’t even know how safe they are if they get into your mouth. I definitely have experienced the unpleasant taste of sunscreen, which is not something I care to experience again.
Here are two of the products I have been using recently. And just as you need to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours on the body, you have to do the same for your lips. (Or actually, if you are a lip licker, you may need to apply even more frequently.) I will admit I’m not as good at doing it as I should be, but I am trying.
1. Supergoop Mint Fusion SPF 30 Lip Balm $9.50
I love natural skin care products, which is why I am a fan of the brand Supergoop. This product checks all the boxes. It has SPF 30 protection, antioxidants, and is hydrating. It really feels like any other moisturizing lip product and you wouldn’t suspect it was made for the sun.
It is really rare to find such as high SPF level in a lip product, but this one has it. Plus, it is not sticky, goes on smooth, and seems to stay on the lips where I want it.
Besides the lip sunscreen, of course I need my lips look as good at the beach as they do when I go out at night. So I have been putting a layer of lipstick right over my SPF product. Especially during the summer I love a good peach or light pink. My two favorites at the moment are the Dior Addict Lip Glow in Light Pink. I am loving the satin finish. For a glossy lip, I am reaching for the YSL GLoss Volupte in Corail Gandoura, this great peachy coral color. It has a great peachy smell and comes with the cutest lip shaped applicator.
Because we want to protect our lips just as we protect our skin, lip products with SPF are #TheDermWifeApproved.