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How can I protect my lips in the sun?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Choose a lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. When using any sunscreen product, look for broad-spectrum coverage, meaning the product protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply it  about 30 minutes before you go outside in the sun. Take your lip balm with you and reapply it every two hours or more often if you are swimming. Talk to a dermatologist for more information.


Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology
The skin on the lips is thinner; it is more vulnerable than the rest of your body. Also, lips have no melanin, they are left unshielded. (It's the blood vessels just beneath the surface of the lips that provide their rosy color). We know that sun exposure destroys collagen, so it thins the lips over time.
Wearing an SPF lip balm every day protects the skin and the collagen beneath it, in exactly the same way that regular sunscreen use prevents future sagging and aging of the skin on your face and body.
A recent study found that less than 25 percent of Americans use some form of lip protection. (But I don't know one man, except my husband, who applies a lip balm with SPF, do you?) When you're in direct sun - whether on the beach, driving in a convertible, or sitting outside at a baseball game - wear a lip balm with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Lipstick or gloss is not a sun shield just because it's layered on top of the lips. Indeed, it can make matters much worse. The same study that reported the low percentage of people protecting their lips, done at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, also found that shiny lip gloss attracts light (and ultraviolet radiation) and increases a person's risk of skin cancer. Many glosses and lipsticks contain an SPF. However, these cosmetics often include only a UVB filter such as octinoxate and no UVA protection at all. As always, read the label carefully.

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.