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SPF for Lips

Lip balms tend to use thicker wax-based ingredients intended to protect the thin skin of the lips while also sealing in moisture to add hydration. Lip gloss tends to be thinner in consistency and focused more on adding shine. SPF products for lips can be difficult to come by. Read more...
 

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spf lips

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Can you briefly explain what a lip balm is and how it differs from other topical lip treatments?



Lip balms tend to use thicker wax-based ingredients intended to protect the thin skin of the lips while also sealing in moisture to add hydration. Lip gloss tends to be thinner in consistency and focused more on adding shine.



What is the purpose of a lip balm, and who might benefit most from using one?



Lip balms are designed to add a layer of protection to the lips protecting them from environmental factors as well as evaporation of moisture from the surface of the lips from saliva and fluids. They also can trap moisture close to the lips to address hydration. They can benefit most people but in particular ideal for overnight use with mouth breathers who find that their lips are excessively dry in the morning.



We so often forget that our lips, too, need sun protection. Why do you think it's so important that a lip balm contains SPF?



I see so many cases of actinic cheilitis- precancerous changes to the lips (especially lower lip) - I had to find our patients options of lip balms with SPF for this difficult-to-manage area. I also have a large number of patients on Accutane and we have to make sure they are sun safe to avoid damaging their lips at a time when their medication makes them even more sensitive to the sun. It is important to use if your skin is inflamed and you think you may be getting added sun exposure. If your dry chapped skin or lips is exposed to the sun, they can burn easily and can only cause more trouble! It’s also true that too much sun on the lips can trigger a fever blister outbreak. If you already have dry lips, it’s possible for more fever blisters or cold sores to spread in that dry cracked skin.



What are some SPF-containing lip balms on the market that you would recommend?


SPF lips


Love this because it has my favorite sunblock- zinc- and it’s water resistant.
Active ingredients: Zinc oxide



SPF lips

One of my favorite brands to recommend for people with sensitive skin. This is also gluten-free for my patients with gluten sensitivities (a big issue if you use a lip product with gluten)
Active ingredients: Titanium dioxide, Zinc oxide




Lastly, can you please share some tips on how to choose an SPF-containing lip balm?



The main ingredient I tend to caution patients to avoid in routine lip products is menthol. For many it can be well tolerated, however, I find that it can also lead to a lot of irritation. It does not necessarily aid in healing or preventing chapped lips. It tends to provide more of an analgesic effect to lessen discomfort. Menthol gives a cooling sensation when applied and gives people the impression that their product is getting to work! This sensation is more of a marketing effect and less reflects the actual effect of the product. Patients often get “addicted” to need this sensation to “feel” like their product is working or do not think a product is effective if they do not feel the tingle! Menthol has been shown to contribute to some drying or irritation with long-term use.


From an SPF perspective, I tend to recommend avoiding chemical sunscreen additives for lip products. My main concern is simply the lack of data available on safety with known potential endocrine disruption from topical use. With lip application, the risk of ingestion is high leading to potentially higher absorption of the product. Until more data is available I ask my patients to stick with Zinc or Titanium as their sunscreen actives.




SPF lips

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