Our lips are made up of skin, muscle and mucosa. As the skin is very thin here, with less pigment melanin than other areas, the lips’ mucous membrane (which is full of capillaries) is naturally more visible; giving rise to the redness of our lips.
While we pay homage to their colour derived from this structural vulnerability, it’s sadly also their undoing. Because our lips have little or no melanin, they have little or no protection from the damaging effects of UV rays, which is why lips can prematurely age as well as contract skin cancer.
Protecting your pout from ageing and the elements
Given their exposed position, numerous functions, and lack of oil glands to naturally hydrate or bone structure to support them, our lips can easily be damaged and age faster than other areas of our body. Key things to remember our:
- Avoid excess licking of your lips and do not pick at them – especially if they are chaffed.
- When our lips are exposed to moisture they will absorb and plump, but they will shrink and dry out when dehydrated.
- Protect your lips daily with a hydrating balm or lipstick that ideally contains sunscreen; Look for lip products containing:
- Vitamin E
- Cocoa Seed and Shea Butter
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Palmitoyl Oligopeptide
- Arginine/ Lysine Polypeptide
- Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Proplmethylmethoxybenzofuran – an active ingredient that helps volumise lips and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on and around the lip area.
- Opt for a hydrating balm under your lipstick for added conditioning. This will also enable your lipstick to go on more evenly and it should last longer.
- Take care when exfoliating your lips – only use mild, gentle exfoliants, such as Rice Bran powder, and exfoliate your lips no more than once per week.
- Use matte lipsticks in moderation as they can be extremely drying. if you wish to use them regularly, add a layer of moisturising lip balm underneath.
- Clean and wash your brush/applicator at least twice a week.
- Never share your lip gloss/stick with friends.
- Don’t use a lip product after they expire – you can get an allergic reaction if a product is too old.
- If using a Lip Plumpers or Primers keep in mind that they often work by causing localised irritation and inflammation. This can potentially lead to accelerated ageing.
- Don’t smoke – we know smoking has countless health hazards but due to the toxins are lips are exposed to during smoking and the repeated use of the perioral muscles (those around the mouth) to hold the cigarette, heavy smokers can age much faster than their non-smoking counterparts.
- Avoid using products containing the following ingredient on your lips:
- Artificial fragrance
- Red D&C coal tar dyes – which can cause blackheads around the lips
- Salicylic acid – an ingredient that can erode through the outer stratum corneum to damage living skin layers beneath
- Isopropyl Esters (Myristate, Palmitate, Lanolate and Linoleate)
- Myristyl Lactate
- Lanolin Wax (Lanolic Acid)
- Petroleum based products including Petroleum Jelly and Baby Oil
Remember, that as we age our lips need more moisture and conditioning. If you need help selecting the right product for your skin type, please ask one of our skin therapists.
For a bit of fun, try testing the “true” age of your lips with Dermalogica’s “Read My Lips” widget below.