Understanding the dangers of UVA and UVB rays on your lips, and how you can easily prevent the risks associated with overexposure.
Regardless of the time of year, sunscreen can be a beneficial cream to keep on your skin. While UV rays are higher during the summer months, you can still receive overexposure to both UVA and UVB rays during the winter months too.
You may overlook the importance of using sunscreen on your lips, but according to the American Cancer Society, about 20% of all skin cancers can potentially start on the lips or other sun-exposed areas of the face such as the ears or nose where you may not think to apply sunscreen.
Why Do Lips Need Sun Protection?
The skin on your lips is much more delicate than the skin on the rest of your face, which makes your lips very prone to overexposure to UV rays from the sun. That's why using a balm or cream on your lips that provides some level of SPF protection is extremely important.
This delicate skin on your lips does not contain any hair follicles or sweat glands, which makes it not only prone to overexposure to the sun’s rays, but can also lead to an increase in dryness during both the winter and summer months. Additionally, exposure to UVA and UVB rays can weaken collagen in your lips, a natural and important protein that creates a smooth, plump, and youthful looking pout. Your bottom lip is more susceptible to overexposure as it doesn’t have your nose to provide some sun blockage.
While enjoying some time in the sun can be a great way to provide your body with vitamin D, it can also lead to additional health risks later on if you forget to apply sunscreen and end up with a sunburn.
How You Can Protect Your Lips from the Sun
Using sunscreen on your lips is one of the best ways to protect them from the sun’s rays. However, not every sunscreen will be suitable for using on your lips. Instead of using your normal facial sunscreen, look for a moisturising lip balm that also includes SPF protection.
When using sunscreen on your lips, it’s important to reapply it every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day. You may need to reapply more often when eating, drinking, or swimming as even SPF lip balm will wear off as quickly as lipstick can.
The Proper Sunscreen For Your Lips
There are a variety of sunscreen options for your lips, but we absolutely love our very own PREVENTION+ daily defense lip enhancer. It not only provides a nourishing blend of marine collagen microspheres to protect and enhance your kissable lips, but it also provides SPF 15 sunscreen so you can confidently enjoy the day.
According to the American Cancer Society, having an SPF of 15 on your lips can protect them from up to 93% of harmful UV rays. This means you can spend time in the garden, playing with the kids, or jogging while still having peace of mind knowing your lips are protected.
How to Treat Sunburned Lips
If you have ventured outside with little or no SPF protection on your lips, you may start to notice some discomfort a few hours later. Signs of overexposure to UV rays can include:
For severe sunburn cases, you may notice other signs including extreme sensitivity, irritation, and blistering.
There are a variety of ways you can soothe your sunburned lips, but one of the first steps you should take is to find shelter from the sun. Look for shade, move indoors, or apply an SPF lip balm or lip moisturizer to help prevent any further damage.
Once you are out of the sun, consider using a washcloth that has been soaked in cool or cold water as a cold compress on your lips. Press it against your lips gently for a few minutes until the immediate burning discomfort has subsided.
From this point, you can apply a variety of different moisturisers, or look for aloe vera gel. As a little trick, try placing the aloe vera gel into the refrigerator for a short time to cool the gel and add an extra layer of soothing relief.
One ingredient to avoid when looking for a moisturiser to soothe your burned lips is anything with petroleum, which can include Vaseline and similar off-brands. Instead of soothing the discomfort, petroleum products will lock the heat onto the skin and could do more harm than good.
Over the counter anti-inflammatories such as Advil or Motrin can also provide some relief from sunburned lips. Not only will it help bring down the swelling and inflammation in the delicate skin cells of your lips, but it will also provide pain relief for the discomfort you may be feeling.
Minor sunburns on your lips should recover within three to five days, but if they remain sore or don’t seem to be healing, you should consult your dermatologist for their opinion and what treatments or home remedies you should try next.