How to care for your lips and keep them looking lovely
No matter how diligent you are about looking after your skin, there are certain parts of the face that are susceptible to life’s wear and tear. These include the lips, which are continuously bared to the elements, and where the skin is far thinner than on any other exposed part of our body.1 Caring for the lips also means looking after the skin around them, which is regularly twisted, pulled and contorted any time we smile, frown, eat, talk or laugh. It gets a pretty serious workout every day!
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to care for the lip-and-mouth area, helping it to look its best for as long as possible.
1. Combat dryness
If your lips tend to feel dry and scaly, you’re not alone: One study showed studies have shown that the lips have almost three times more the water loss than the skin on our cheeks.1 Things can get even worse in winter, thanks to the dry and cold air outside. Research suggests that women in their 30s experience dried and chapped lips more frequently than those in other age groups, but the good news is that lip dryness does tend to improve as we get older.2 So you might be able to kiss that scaliness goodbye with every passing birthday!
In the meantime, using a dedicated lip cream or balm like QV Face Lip Balm helps to keep them soft and protected. If lips feel rough and scaly, some gentle exfoliation can help – try rubbing a soft, damp washcloth over the surface to remove the scaliness, or mix a little QV Face Exfoliating Polish with your balm to gently slough away dry skin, then rinse clean. Keep it all very gentle and never force or rip away this delicate skin.
2. Remember the SPF for lips
Sun protection is just as important for the lips as it is for the rest of the face, especially as their protruding surfaces cop more than their share of UV rays. If you’re planning to be out in the sun, look for a lip balm with a very high SPF, likeSunSense Lip Balm, which has SPF50+ and broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
Don’t forget the skin around the mouth, too. When you’re applying your facial sunscreen, be sure to cover the area between the nose and the upper lip, and around the sides of the mouth, which can be prone to the small vertical lines and wrinkles often known as “feathering”. Research suggests that women tend to experience more of these wrinkles around the mouth than men and that the lines tend to be deeper, though it’s not yet known why this is the case.3
Up to 80 per cent of the visible signs of ageing is caused by sun exposure, including dryness, wrinkles and a loss of collagen3, so it definitely pays to stay protected! SunSense Daily Face is a good everyday sunscreen because it feels lightweight and has a matte finish, so it won’t look greasy or oily.
3. Stop smoking
Aside from the general health risks, smokers also do a triple-whammy of visible damage to the lip-and-mouth area. Smoking is a major factor in the signs of skin ageing in general, while the action itself causes the mouth to repeatedly purse and pucker, exacerbating those feathering lines.3 Then there’s the nicotine, which stains the teeth. If you need another reason to stop, do it for better looking lips!
4. Rethink your colour
If you wear lipstick or even a tinted lip balm or gloss, a subtle tweak of the shade can actually make a big difference. Our lips naturally darken as we get older, which scientists think might be due to long-term UV exposure.2 So if your long-time favourite lipstick is starting to look different, this could be why!
Ageing also impacts also our teeth, which can become yellower and more discoloured as we grow older.4 Lipstick shades that have an orange undertone – such as fire-engine reds, coral pinks, and even caramel-toned nude shades – can make yellowing teeth look even more so. By contrast, choosing a lip colour with blue undertones – berry reds, mauves, and pinker nudes all fall into this category – can neutralise the look of yellowed teeth, helping them appear whiter.
- Kobayashi H, Tagami H. Functional properties of the surface of the vermilion border of the lips are distinct from those of the facial skin. Br J Dermatol. 2004;150(3):563–567.
- Tamura E, Ishikawa J, Sugata K, Tsukahara K, Yasumori H, Yamamoto T. Age-related differences in the functional properties of lips compared with skin. Skin Res Technol. 2018;24:472–478.
- Paes E, Teepen H, Koop W, Kon M. Perioral wrinkles: Histologic differences between men and women. Aesthet Surg J. 2009;29(6):467–472.
- Haralur S. Effect of age on tooth shade, skin color and skin-tooth color interrelationship in Saudi Arabian subpopulation. J Int Oral Health. 2015;7(8):33–36.
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