Protect Your Pout!
Why is SPF important in a lip product? Are people at risk of skin cancer on their lips?
A broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher is very important to apply on your lips each day given that skin cancer on the lips is commonly seen. Specifically, most lip cancers are squamous cell carcinomas found on the lower lip due most commonly to sun exposure and tobacco use.
What SPF range should people look for? Is SPF 15 enough?
As a board certified dermatologist, Dr. Evans recommends a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (spf) 30 or higher. While spf 15 offers benefits and using sunscreen is better than not using it, it is not just about how much radiation from the sun is blocked by sunscreen it is also about how much radiation can be successfully transmitted into the skin. An spf 30 or 50 for that matter, will decrease the amount of radiation that is absorbed by our skin significantly. Additionally, many people apply sunscreen in very thin layer or unevenly. A higher spf can improve the overall effect as compliance can be low and reapplication during the day is often not done.
Is this mostly a summertime concern, or year-round?
Year around! From a bright sunny day to a cloudy day, the radiation from the sun can affect your skin causing sunspots, wrinkles and skin cancers.
Any specific ingredients to seek (such as humectants or emollients) or avoid (like menthol)?
The best sunscreens have broad spectrum coverage which means they have the ability to block out harmful UVA and UVB rays. Physical sunblock with zinc or titanium are preferable to chemical sunscreens. I tell my patients to avoid avobenzone and oxybenzzone which are in chemical sunscreens and have been shown to be absorbed by our bodies more readily and found circulating in our blood. This is especially relevant when the sunscreen is applied to the lips which have a higher absorptive quality then the rest of our skin and we are often licking them. Emollients such as ceramides can keep the lips soft. I do not recommend menthol which can be irritating to the eyes and skin in high amounts it can cause severe skin reactions and rashes.
Any best practices for application?
Apply regularly and often, especially when you are sending time outdoors and doing physical activity or if you are a lip licker.