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02nd Apr 2024

How important is SPF for your lips?

Anna Martin

lip spf

We’ve all heard about how important SPF is for your face

However, when most people think of their faces, they might not remember to protect lips straight away – or is that just me?

Effective sun protection is the first step to healthier skin – preventing premature signs of ageing, minimising the appearance of dark spots, and reducing the risk of skin cancer.

So does that sentiment extend to your lips as well? 

Should I be putting SPF on my lips?

lip spf
Credit: Canva

The simple answer is yes, but if you want the reasoning behind it, we have that too.

New York-based skin expert Dr. Whitney Bowe revealed to that: “It is very important to protect your lips from sun damage [but] lips are often neglected when it comes to sun protection.”

Without proper sun protection, the lips can easily fall victim to sun damage, hyperpigmentation, and skin cancer in worse cases.

Since the lips are thin and lack melanin (a pigment that acts as a natural sun defence), they have less natural protection from the sun and its harmful rays.

Failing to wear a lip product with sunscreen daily allows UV rays to infiltrate the lips, leading to dryness, chapped lips, and sunburns.

Anyone who has ever had a sunburn on their lips is shuddering right now at the memory.

The more sun exposure the lips incur, the higher the risk of sun damage and dark spots that can cause fine lines and wrinkles on and around the lips. 

Unprotected lips are also at risk for developing actinic cheilitis, or sailor’s lip, where the skin is constantly chapped, scaly, and dry.

How often should it be applied?

lip spf
Credit: Canva

Now you know you probably should be adding lip SPF into your routine the next question you probably have is how often?

For optimal lip protection, use SPF lip products with an SPF of 30 or higher daily and reapply it every two hours, if not sooner.

Speaking to Byrdie, Board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick said: “If you tend to lick your lips, you may want to swipe on more product more often.”

If you’re spending the day outside, make sure to apply lip SPF 30 minutes before heading out.

It’s also important to protect the lips year-round from skin cancer and sun damage, not just when you can see that the sun is out.

“UV radiation is present 365 days per year, although SPF lip products are essential during the summer with increased time outdoors,” Garshick explains.