We know you treat your skin with kid gloves, but were you aware that your lips need extra TLC? It’s true. What’s more, some of the things you may be doing to keep your lips in perfect condition may actually have the opposite effect(!). Never fear — we’re here to help separate fact from fiction.
Exfoliation is a hard no
At Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, we live for chemical exfoliation. We talk all the time about the skin-enhancing, glow-boosting benefits of consistent use of alpha and beta hydroxy acids. That said, lips may be the one place your Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel should not go. But you don’t just need to steer clear of chemical exfoliants. Physical scrubs (yes, even the ones with ingredients that sound gentle, like sugar) are just as bad, if not worse. Here’s why: Lip skin is the thinnest skin on your face. Stripping cells off this paper-thin tissue disrupts the all-important moisture barrier. Keeping the moisture barrier intact is what prevents lips from chapping. You may assume that if your lips are already flaking, then you need to exfoliate them to get rid of the flakes. This will trap your lips in an endless cycle of dryness-induced chapping. The smooth finish you get from a lip polish may work in the moment, but it will quickly be replaced by flakes. To stop the cycle, you need to stop the scrub.
PS Don’t pick at your lips either. It may be tempting when they’re chapped, but this hands-on exfoliation method is not your friend.
SPF is a definite yes
While we may steer your lips away from Alpha Beta Peels, we’re all in on using our second favorite product, SPF, on your lips. Specifically, mineral sunscreen. UV rays pummel the moisture barrier on any part of the body, but they’re especially brutal on lips’ super thin skin. (See above for a reminder on the reason a strong moisture barrier is essential.) We’re pro-mineral for sunscreen, generally, but a mineral formula is even more important on the lips. That’s because research has shown that the ingredients in chemical sunscreens may be absorbed into the bloodstream. Because lip tissue is so thin, that makes anything you apply to it even more likely to pass through the skin and into the body. Mineral ingredients sit on top of skin, so absorption isn’t an issue. You can find lip balms made with mineral SPF or use your favorite face or body formula. SPF 30 is the minimum for skin anywhere. Due to lips’ delicate nature, we tend to err on the side of SPF 50. You’ll find us applying our Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Ultimate Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50 from the chest up — lips included.
Hydration is a no-brainer
Beyond keeping your moisture barrier in good shape, you also need to ensure lips are hydrated if you want to keep them soft and smooth. Hyaluronic acid is a derm-favorite for faces, due to its reputation as a moisture magnet. By drawing water into skin, hyaluronic acid helps give skin a smoother, fuller appearance. It does the same for your lips.
Venom-anything is a bad idea
Obviously, lip plumpers don’t actually use toxic animal venom to give lips a “bee-stung” effect. They work on the principle that irritating skin tissue will make it temporarily balloon in size (which is, indeed, what often happens if you get stung by a wasp or bitten by a snake). The important question here is why would you want to be so mean to your lips — especially when so many gentle, effective plumping agents (see: hyaluronic acid) exist?
Don’t pucker up
Repeatedly pursing your lips, whether it’s to sip through a straw or just to show your displeasure, can contribute to the formation of vertical lines around your mouth (and don’t even get us started on smoking). Obviously, sometimes it’s unavoidable. After all, what’s the point of having soft, pillowy lips if you never use them to kiss anyone? The idea is not to exacerbate the situation by doing anything additional to encourage lines.
If you do have some existing lip lines you’d like to soften, the good news is that two skincare staples you probably already have are excellent in this area. One is red light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which have been proven to stimulate collagen production and are an integral part of our bestselling Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro. Just three minutes a day will make a noticeable impact on skin. The second must-have is a peptide serum, like our Dr. Dennis Gross DermInfusions Fill + Repair Serum, which contains four types of skin-plumping peptides, plus four different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid. Use the two together, and it’s a game-changer.
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