Do Your Lips Need Sunscreen?

Protecting Your Lips Against the Sun

Beauty At The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Autumn/Winter 2016. Credit: Andreas Rentz / Staff

By now you're probably aware of how incredibly important it is to wear sunscreen, even when you aren't at the beach. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying 1 ounce of sunscreen, or enough to fill a shot glass, to exposed areas of the body to prevent sunburns, photoaging, and skin cancer.

Skin cancer can affect any part of the body, even our lips. The skin on our lips is extremely thin, making them more prone to damage not just from the sun, but from extreme cold, extreme heat and wind.

Just like the rest of our bodies, our lips benefit from sun protection, too. Sun exposure destroys collagen, a protein that is abundant in the lips, over time, eventually making lips thinner. SPF lip balm protects the skin and collagen.

Next time you go outside, apply a lip product that touts SPF protection. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing SPF 30 or higher.

Why You Need to Wear SPF Lip Balm

Not all lip care products are created equally. In order to protect your lips from the sun, a product must contain SPF. Many people think lipgloss and lipstick shield lips from the sun, but they don't. They make things worse. The shiny, glossy sheen so many cosmetic lip products provide actually attracts sunlight and UV radiation, further increasing the risk of developing skin cancer. Still, given how seriously our culture takes sun safety, there are many products with added SPF that allow you to protect your lips from the sun and look good at the same time.

Depending on how sensitive your skin is, applying a layer of sunscreen to your lips might be too irritating. Lip care products that contain SPF are formulated specifically for lips: in addition to protecting against harmful UV damage, they also repair and moisturize.

Top SPF Lip Products

You probably already wear lip balm anyway, so why not switch to one that offers SPF?

The best way to provide protection against the sun for our lips to apply any lip care product - lipstick, gloss or balm - that contains SPF. Lips are hydrated and protected without the smell of sunscreen. Some great products that will shield your lips from the sun include:

  • Aquaphor Lip Repair & Protect: SPF 30; broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection; made with shea butter, castor seed oil, and vitamin E; fragrance, dye and paraben free
  • Alba Botanica Lip Care: SPF 25; hypoallergenic; made with 100 percent vegetarian ingredients; no animal testing
  • Carmex Cherry Lip Balm: SPF 15; relieves dry, chapped lips with cocoa butter; made with petrolatum for long-lasting hydration
  • ChapStick Sun Defense: SPF 25; made with aloe and vitamin E; locks in moisture for soft, hydrated and healthy lips
  • Coola Liplux Sport: SPF 30; broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection; formulated with more than 70 percent certified organic ingredients; made with moisturizing raspberry and avocado fruit butters, vitamins and antioxidants


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