What is lip pigmentation?
Lip pigmentation is where the color of the lips darkens due to the excess production of melanin. This can be due to various reasons. Our face has about 16 layers of skin but our eyelids and lips don’t. Our lips have only about 5-6 layers and so it is easily damaged. What gives them that pinkish shade is the blood vessels beneath those thin layers of skin. Let’s look at a few reasons why your lips can be pigmented.
What causes pigmentation on the lips?
1. Sun Exposure
Harmful sun rays can damage our skin easily and it gets only worse for our lips since they have thin skin. While we often forget to swoop our sunscreen across our lips, it is very important that we pick a lip product that has SPF in it to ensure that we never miss lip protection. You can also swoop across your body SPF cream on your lips. An SPF cream to swear by for your face and lips is Qurez Mattifying SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen With Sea Buckthorn & Aloe Vera that has soothing ingredients like Sea Buckthorn and Aloe Vera to calm and hydrate your skin.
Certain medicines like oral contraceptives mess with your hormones and result in pigmentation. Cytotoxic drugs prescribed for medical conditions like cancer, mental health, etc can affect your lip color too.
Dehydration makes your skin delicate and prone to damage since there is no barrier without moisture. Certain daily habits like caffeine intake or occasional alcohol intake makes your body and eventually skin dehydrated. The common everyday ingredient that we intake is caffeine through coffee and tea. Caffeine is diuretic and hence can dehydrate your lips. So limit your caffeine intake or drink enough water to ensure that caffeine doesn’t affect your skin’s water levels. If you’re a caffeine addict, you can switch to a drink that contains less amount of caffeine to limit your intake. We recommend you switch to Cosmix So Matcha Better that is loaded with Antioxidants to fight the free radicals and also has L-theanine which is a compound that prevents caffeine lag that you experience once the caffeine kick goes off. Overall, Matcha is a great alternative to increase focus and achieve healthy skin.
Tobacco has nicotine that not just stains your teeth and lips but also leads to free radicals that damage your skin barrier. This is when external factors can easily attack your skin and lead to pigmentations.
5. Repetitive licking and biting of lips
Well, biting is a straight-up no because your skin is delicate there and you’re damaging it by tearing the skin. When it comes to licking, you may believe that it helps with dehydration. But it is quite the opposite of it. Saliva contains enzymes like maltase and amylase that wear down the skin and make them even drier.
6. Not exfoliating
It is important to take off the dead skin layer from your lips so that your lips don’t crack and suffer dehydration. Exfoliation also helps in improving blood circulation that gives the lips that rich pink shade. However, over-exfoliation or using harsh exfoliators is equally tormenting for the lips so pick a gentle exfoliator.
7. Medical condition
With cancer, syndromes like Laugier-Hunziker syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, hemochromatosis, your skin can develop black spots or hyperpigmentation around your mouth and lips. In such cases, there is not much you can do about it except approach a dermatologist to treat them.
What are the ways to prevent pigmented lips?
1. Protect your lips
Your lips need SPF even more than your facial skin does. Harmful sun rays easily penetrate your lips’ skin to give you pigmentations. You can also use bucket hats and umbrellas to not just protect your lips but also your face. Learn more about SPF here
2. Quit smoking
Nicotine is not doing any good to your skin or your lungs. Our blood needs oxygen, hemoglobin, and water for that red hue. But in the presence of nicotine, your blood loses its color and your vascular (blood vessels) health deteriorates. This ends badly for your lips, lungs, and skin.
3. Wiping your lips after eating and drinking
Many times, certain spicy food when they stay on our lips, burns it. Burn leads to the body calling our melanin (a brown body pigment) to keep that skin protected from external factors. This gives you brown spots and pigments around your mouth and lips. So make sure to clean your mouth after eating and drinking caffeine, alcohol, etc.
What are the ways to treat pigmented lips?
To make sure your lip products are working on your skin, you need to make sure that the dead skin cells are off to reveal a fresh layer of skin. Scrubbing also takes off any element from the air, toothpaste, food or drinks, present on your lips and harms them. A lip scrub that we swear by is Ras Luxury Oils Lush Lips Conditioning Lip Scrub that has Grapefruit and Orange essential oil to brighten, clay to detox, and sugar to exfoliate your lips and give you those soft, supple lips.
2. Applying SPF
As we pressed on this point earlier, it is important to apply SPF to your lips. This is an undermined step that many of us skip since we don’t know its importance. Invest in a good lip balm that can nourish and protect your lips further to ensure that there is no more damage. We recommend Just Herbs Marigold Mango Lip Contour Balm that has Marigold and Mango to nourish your lips without making them greasy whereas the organic beeswax in it ensures sun protection.
3. Applying moisturiser
While massaging all that good of a moisturiser on your face, pat a bit on your lips too. This may not be enough though. So make sure to add a hydrating lip mask or a lip balm. A lip mask that we’d recommend for dry and chapped lips is Alanna Lip Buttermask that has Cocoa butter and Vitamin E to hydrate your lips.
4. Being picky with lipsticks
To avoid further damage after pigmentation, stop using any random lipstick. Certain lipsticks contain heavy metals that can damage and darken your lips. The products that you will find listed with us, do not contain any heavy metals or chemical nasties. The one that we’d recommend is Paul Penders Handmade Cream Lipstick that has an exquisite range of shades and contains no baddies. It glides very smoothly to give that satin finish without drying your lips.
5. Ice them
Ice therapy which is commonly known as cryotherapy calms your skin and makes it firm by improving the skin elasticity. Pick a couple of ice cubes, cover them with a muslin cloth and gently press it over your lips. You can also use Isa Ice Therapy that can be pressed on your lips and used on any concerned body part that needs soothing.
A few DIY methods to treat pigmented lips?
1. Honey and Sugar
Honey is a natural humectant that attracts moisture from the surroundings whereas sugar is a natural exfoliator. Crush the sugar to make sure the sugar granules are not too big. Mix it with honey and gently massage your lips with it. This can also act as a lip mask if you keep it for 20 minutes after exfoliating your lips.
2. Rose petals and Rosehip oil
Rose petals are a natural conditioner for your lips to hydrate and soften. Soak Rose petals with rosehip oil overnight and apply this in the morning as a lip balm. Rosehip oil is known to treat pigmentation due to the presence of Vitamins, essential Fatty Acids, and phenols. This can also be used for your face.
A fuss-free alternative that Sublime recommends, Ras Luxury Oils Oh-So Luxe Liquid Lip Balm that has Argan Oil, Avocado Oil with Rosehip Oil to deeply nourish your lips. You can make an extra coat of this at night to use it as an overnight lip mask.
3. Aloe Vera with Turmeric
Aloe Vera is known to soothe and heal your skin whereas Turmeric is known for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of curcumin in it. Mix aloe vera with Turmeric and apply that paste on your lips as a lip mask to heal your lips. Wash it off after 15 minutes. Make sure to not add too much Turmeric since it can leave a natural yellow stain on your skin which goes off easily.
A fuss-free alternative that Sublime recommends, Just Herbs Aloe Vera Facial Massage Gel that pairs Aloe Vera gel with Cucumber to restore moisture. Just add a bit of turmeric to this or apply the gel as it is.
Learn more about Aloe Vera here.
4. Pomegranate juice with Strawberry juice
This is just as beneficial as it is tasty. Pomegranate has a compound called punicalagin that helps with controlling the production of melanin. Strawberries are loaded with Vitamin C and Antioxidants that can brighten your lips. Together, they make a power duo to give your skin a light pinkish tinge and at the same time brighten them.
A fuss-free alternative that Sublime recommends, Alanna Beet & Berry Lip Scrub that not just has Pomegranate and Strawberry powder but also Tomato and Beetroot powder to brighten your lips. It also contains Vitamin E, Coconut butter and Shea butter that nourishes and protects your skin from pollution.
Lip pigmentation is a common issue due to the lack of awareness that our lips need protection and hydration just as our facial skin does. Pigmentation can occur due to hormonal changes, medications that disturb your hormones, smoking, caffeine intake, sun exposure, and dehydration. Wear a hydration lip balm at all times and opt for the ones that contain SPF too. If not, then swoop your regular SPF on your lips. Treating pigmented lips will take time and you must be religious with your lip care routine to see a change over some time.