Protect those lips, girl!

By Melissa Miller, Master Body Contouring Specialist

How to keep your lips safe in the sun

Before every summer outing or beach trip, you probably slather yourself with sunscreen. But you might be forgetting an important area prone to burning: the lips.

Your lips, especially the lower lip, are constantly exposed to sunlight when outside. They’re also thinner and contain less melanin than other parts of the body, which makes them susceptible to damage from UV rays.

Sunburned lips cause pain and blistering—and they may increase your risk of developing skin cancer later in life—so it’s important to take the proper precautions. Here’s what you need to know about preventing and treating sunburned lips.


Preventing Sunburned Lips

To prevent sunburned lips, you should wear a lip balm with SPF 30 or higher. eltaMD makes a wonderful UV Lip Balm that is broad spectrum and has SPF 36. With natural active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, eltaMD UV Lip Balm provides both a moisturizer and sunscreen and will provide a physical barrier from the sun’s UV rays. 

Apply the lip balm 15-30 minutes before going outside, and re-apply often. Sunscreen will likely wear off after eating, drinking, swimming, rubbing your mouth, or licking your lips. Pay special attention to your lower lip; because it projects more from the face, it has a greater chance of burning.

I also suggest wearing a physical barrier like a wide-brimmed hat. Staying in the shade will obviously help protect your lips, but the best way to prevent painful sun damage is avoiding direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. 


Treatments for sunburned lips

For the most part, treating sunburned lips is a matter of waiting it out. Time will help and will typically resolve within 3-5 days depending on the severity.

Staying hydrated is also key for sunburned lips treatment. Drinking plenty of water will help restore your lips to health.

After a lip sunburn, take an anti-inflammatory pain reliever to help ease tenderness and swelling. Also using a cold compress can reduce the inflammation and pain. Rinse a soft washcloth in cold water or dip it in ice water, then hold it against your lips. 

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