There’s one area of the face that even the most involved skincare routines tend to ignore: the lips. But lips are made of skin, too — actually some of the thinnest, most delicate skin on your face!
Of course, different types of skin are not biologically the same. One of the major differences between the skin on your lips and the skin on the rest of your face is that lips don’t have the same concentration of sweat or oil glands (which is why they can become cracked and sore so quickly). Because they lack the benefits of natural oils, lips may need extra nourishment — especially during the dry winter months.
Enter lip treatments. These underrated (but essential!) beauty products are becoming more and more popular as lip care continues to gain popularity, steadily rising from beauty-editor trend to essential skincare step.
Below, our top reasons to give your lips some extra love with products devoted entirely to perfecting your pout.
Lips are constantly exposed to environmental stressors like cosmetics, cold weather and lip licking (guilty). All of these factors can dry out the skin barrier, resulting in irritation, inflammation, and flaking.
The answer? Extra hydration. We love lip masks for this, since they are specifically formulated to infuse the skin on your lips with deep, lasting hydration. Much like a regular face mask, a good lip mask will hydrate, nourish, and heal for softer, smoother skin. You may even notice some of the same ingredients you see in your other hydrating skincare products (like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and coconut oil).
New research is still emerging as the trend continues to grow, but initial clinical assessments on lip treatments look promising. This study concluded that a two-step topical lip care treatment was effective at restoring moisture and fullness to the lips of female subjects with mild-to-moderate lip dryness.
Along with a serious hydrating boost, many lip masks also contain plumping ingredients for fuller-looking lips. This makes sense, since dehydrated lips can dry out and shrink.
It’s worth noting that plumping effects are generally temporary, lasting for a few hours or so (not bad for a few minutes of effort!).
For maximum volumizing benefits, look for ingredients like extract of the Kiss-Me-Quick flower. Rich in vitamins C and E, this natural extract is known to improve the barrier of the skin and enhance elasticity for smoother, younger-looking skin.
Hint: Two-step lip treatments work together (scrubs exfoliate and plump while masks hydrate and smooth) for gorgeous results.
Just like all skin on your body, your lips are regularly replenishing and shedding dead skin. Keeping your lips hydrated will help prevent dry flakiness, however you may still need to manually exfoliate to get a perfectly smooth pout. Exfoliation also helps ensure masks and balms can penetrate deeply.
Lip scrubs are a great way to soften, exfoliate, and soothe lips to promote healthy skin over time. Regular exfoliation can help with flakes, just be sure to use a gentle sugar scrubwith nourishing ingredients like shea butter and vitamin E. Avoid scrubs with harsh or jagged particles in this ultra-delicate area.
Everyone knows it’s important to wear sunscreen on a daily basis, but it can be easy to forget about your lips. Even worse: many lip glosses magnify UV rays, making lips even more likely to burn.
Since your lips are exposed to the environment every day (and highly susceptible to sun damage), lip protection shouldn’t be an afterthought. For daytime, choose a lip balm that has an SPF and reapply it regularly.
Note: Lip treatments are unlikely to contain sun protection, so always follow with a lip balm or ointment (look for SPF 30 or higher) to help lock in moisture and prevent damage from the sun.
This goes for all the products you put on your body, but it’s especially important when it comes to lip care.
Because lip products tend to get… eaten. Ingesting lip products is hard to avoid — it can happen as you sip your morning coffee, eat a sandwich, and even lick your lips.
According to this consumer guide released by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund in 2018, the amount ingested is significant: the average American woman will apply lipstick 2.35 times per day, with some women applying as often as 14 times per day. The result is that some women will ingest a pound of lipstick every two years (!).
The problem is that many brands use toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancers, allergies, neurological disorders, and reproductive issues. So over the course of a lifetime, the lip products you ingest can seriously impact your health.
Even though the science is clear that long-term exposure to toxic chemicals in cosmetics can cause significant harm to human health, this is all perfectly legal. There is no governmental task force in the U.S. responsible for inspecting the ingredients used in personal care products.
Until cosmetics regulation policies catch up with modern science, it’s up to you to make sure your beauty products are safe. Always read labels and stay away from additives like parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.
When in doubt, talk to your doctor or dermatologist to make sure the ingredients in your lip care (and other skincare) products are safe for use.