Sometimes it can be easy to forget about our lips when thinking about skin health. But the truth is, they only have a few small differences from the skin everywhere else on our body. And some of these differences make them much more vulnerable.
First, our lips don’t have hair follicles. Even if you can’t see them, hair follicles are everywhere on your body except for your lips, palms, and the bottom of your feet.
They have the same amount of layers as our normal skin, however, the protective layer called the stratum corneum is much thinner in your lips. This accounts for their red, pinkish appearance, as the blood vessels beneath are closer to the surface. But this thin layer is also why they’re at a higher risk of damage.
Another reason the lips are more vulnerable is that they don’t contain melanin, the pigment in skin that dictates skin tone and helps protect the skin from UV rays. This leaves them as easy targets for the sun. Have you ever gotten sunburned lips? Ouch!
Finally, our lips don’t have sebaceous glands – glands that help keep the skin moisturized. That means that our lips are on their own.
Or are they?
If we take care of our lips, we can help keep them looking pink and healthy for all of their days! I’ve come up with a list of some best practices to help keep YOUR lips looking their best.
Check it out:
This can help remove any dry or dead skin from your lips. Plus, it can get the blood flowing to the lips, giving them a nice glow! One way to do this is to apply a good quality lip balm before bed. When you wake up, use a soft and damp washcloth or gentle toothbrush to carefully wipe your lips clean.
This is another great way to exfoliate your lips and lock in moisture. Mix two teaspoons of a quality sugar, one teaspoon of honey, and one teaspoon of olive oil (coconut or almond oil work too!) together in a small bowl. Rub the mixture onto your lips for about a minute and then wash it off. Then keep the extra and repeat a few times per week!
Sure, this one may seem like a no-brainer, but it can sometimes get forgotten throughout our busy days (guilty).
Drink at least eight cups of water per day. Your lips can’t moisturize themselves, so they rely on saliva only. But when you get thirsty, your mouth gets dry, and then so do your lips.
You know what, I’m going to go get a glass of water before continuing this list and you should too!
With nothing but the extra thin layer of protective skin on your lips, you don’t want to be putting anything that could be potentially toxic on them.
Lip balms that contain shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil can help give your lips a much-needed barrier of protection from heat and chemicals. But other ingredients can dry out your lips or cause damage over time. Make sure to look at the ingredients and expiry dates of the products you’re applying to your lips.
Vitamin E helps boost circulation and can help with the production of new skin cells, making your lips softer and healthier. Add a topical vitamin E ointment to your lips, or you can even just break open a vitamin E capsule and apply the contents directly to your lips!
Aloe vera has long been known for its ability to heal and soothe cracked or dried lips. You can purchase a packaged aloe vera product or – if you or someone you know has an aloe vera plant at home – crack off a leaf and squeeze it right from the plant itself!
Berries are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, and other compounds that your lips love. Try crushing up a strawberry and adding it to your homemade scrub from above. Just be careful what kind of berries you use – some may stain!
As I mentioned before, your lips can be very fragile against the sun due to their thin skin layer and lack of melanin.
Just like with your skin, exposure to the sun will age your lips. If you’re going to be outside – especially on a sunny day – wear a lip balm with an SPF ingredient. And be mindful of how much direct exposure they’re getting. Try and wear a hat that shades your face and lips.
If you’re going to be using products that color your lips, look for ones that use natural coloring like plant dyes. Not only will these not irritate your lips, but things like pomegranates or raspberries can also benefit them!
There are many things out in the environment that we just can’t avoid, like pollution and second-hand smoke. But due to our lip’s vulnerability, these can impact their health and give them a faded appearance.
Do your best to avoid interacting with toxic chemicals, especially directly.
If your lips feel dry, peppermint oil can offer a fresh, cooling sensation. On top of that, it may boost circulation to the lips! Consider adding some to your homemade lip scrub.
Don’t forget about your lips! They’re similar but different from the rest of your skin. If you add even a few of the above tips to your skincare routine, you won’t have to worry about forgetting, because taking care of them will already be part of your day!
Another way to make sure you’re always caring for your lips is to take an absorbable collagen.
Just like the rest of our skin, collagen depletes in the lips as we age, causing them to thin and lose their lush look.
Don’t let your collagen levels get any lower.
It’s the number one reason I believe that my lips are softer than ever!