Tips for Soft Healthy Lips
In honor of National Lipstick Day, we’d like to provide some tips on maintaining soft, healthy, kissable lips. After all, they are a prominent form of expression and one of our erogenous zones. With a little extra care, they can remain softer, smoother and healthy for life. But first, let’s learn a little more about this important part of our anatomy.
Facts About Our Lips
The lips consist of three major components – the labius superium oris, the labius inferium oris, and the vermillion border (the outermost margins of the lips). The main muscle that moves the lips is the Obicularis oris muscle. The unique features of the lips include:
- The skin is very thin compared with the rest of the body.
- The lips do not have hair follicles or sweat glands. In this way they are similar to the soles of our feet and the palms of our hands.
- The lips do not have oil glands, so they dry out more quickly than the rest of the body.
- The lips are very sensitive to touch, warmth and cold.
- Lips tend to have fewer malanocytes than the rest of the body, which allows blood vessels underneath to give them a pinkish hue.
- Lips tend to get thinner as we age, due to the decreased production of collagen.
How To Care For Our Lips
Because of these unique properties, it is important to protect our lips from the effects of the environment, harsh chemicals, and sunlight. The same environmental forces that can cause our skin to age is magnified on our lips. Hear are a few ways that you can keep your lips soft and healthy:
- Moisturize regularly. Without oil glands, our lips are especially prone to drying and cracking. A moisturizing shea butter lip balm or other barrier balm can go a long way towards trapping moisture to prevent cracking.
- Avoid products that can dry lips out, like alcohol, camphor, phenols, menthol, perfumes, salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid (which in low humidity can pull moisture from your lips).
- Rethink using products that don’t actually moisturize like 100% petroleum jelly (which is highly refined and may contain other contaminants) and mineral oil. Choose moisturizing, penetrating oils like shea, olive and coconut oil instead with a natural wax like candelilla instead.
- Exfoliate lips gently, especially during the winter months. The skin on the lips sheds, too, and regular exfoliation with a gentle scrub or a washcloth can help maintain a smooth appearance and helps lip care products absorb better.
- Wear a sunscreen on your lips! Of course, it’s wise to wear sunscreen on all exposed areas when we’re outdoors, but the lips are especially vulnerable. A barrier sunscreen containing zinc or titanium oxide is best.
- If you smoke, stop. After sun exposure, nothing ages skin more than smoking. It accelerates the breakdown of collagen and causes our skin to age prematurely. For the same reason, avoid excess sugar in the diet.
- Use products that are proven to enhance collagen production. The jury is still out on whether or not supplements and powders can improve the skin. However, ingredients like antioxidants, peptides and ingredients like niacinamide have been shown to help with collagen production. For example, our Age-Defying Vitamin C Face Creme contains both antioxidants and niacinamide without the high price tag of other Vitamin C creams.
- Stay hydrated. The same thing that can dry your skin also dries out your lips. If you suffer from chronically dry skin, lips, hair and nails, then it’s time to drink more water.
- Eat a healthy diet. Foods rich in collagen precursors like glycine and proline include foods like fish, dark leafy greens, beans, cabbage, bananas and many other foods. Eating foods rich in these amino acids help the body maintain healthy skin, hair and yes, lips too.
- Don’t lick your lips! It’s tempting to do when lips are cracked, but it only speeds dehydration.
In addition to these tips, we also recommend that you read labels before applying any product to your lips. Many lipsticks, for example, contain synthetic dyes, lead, and other ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction or worse. After all, many of the products that we put on our lips can end up in our bodies. Let’s make certain that they are products that won’t do more harm than good. So pucker up and be smart about your lip health!
Huffington Post article about lip facts
Wikipedia article on lip anatomy