20 November 2020
If dry, chapped lips bother you; you are not alone. The skin of the lips is thinner and lacks oil glands to moisturise the lips. These issues make the lips more susceptible to dryness, premature aging and skin cancer compared to the skin of the face. How can you keep your lips protected from these problems? Here are 5 simple tips for lip care.
Licking your lips to moisturise them when they feel dry is a natural response for many of us. However, did you know that our saliva contains enzymes for digestion of food? These enzymes can irritate the skin of the lip. As saliva dries, your lips may even experience more dryness.
Lip lickers’ dermatitis is a type of irritant contact cheilitis caused by repetitive lip licking. The inflammation causes redness, dryness and chapping around the lips.
The lips lack sweat or oil glands that moisturise and lubricate the lips, unlike the skin of the face. For these reasons, the lips dry out and chap easily. To compensate for these problems, look for lip balms that contain ingredients that seal in moisture in the lips. Examples of such ingredients are: ceramides, hyaluronic acid, dimethicones, petroleum, shea butter and mineral oils.
The lips are often neglected when it comes to sun protection and sunscreen use. Aging and skin cancer also occur in the lips. If you want to avoid premature wrinkling and blemishes on your lips, look for lip balms or lip moisturisers that contain a minimum SPF value of 30.
Some ingredients may worsen irritation, hypersensitivity and dryness in these lips. Examples of ingredients to avoid in your lip balms are menthol, lanolin, peppermint, mint. Ingredients like menthol leave a cooling feeling on the skin but do very little else for the lips and may even cause hives.
Lip plumpers have been touted as a non-invasive cosmetic product for fuller lips. These lip balms or lip glosses contain ingredients that increase blood flow to the lips for a plumper lip appearance. Use lip plumpers with care as they usually contain ingredients like cinnamon, menthol and oils that may cause contact dermatitis and chapped lips.
Exfoliation removes dead skin cells on the lips to allow younger and smoother cells to emerge from underneath. Discolouration due to dead skin cells on the surface can also be lightened with exfoliation. That said, thread gently with exfoliation as the lips are a delicate structure. Gentle exfoliants such as sugar scrubs are helpful; and use gentle circular motions with your fingers. Avoid over exfoliating; once a week should be adequate to keep lips healthy looking.