Lip Service: Debunking Lip Care Myths

All skin is not created equal. You may have separate skincare regimens for your face and body, but have you ever thought about the proper way to care for lips? Do you apply only lip balm and call it a day? Although lips are on the face, they have a significantly lower number of skin layers – only three to five as compared to the entire face, which can have up to sixteen. This is one reason why lips appear pink in hue, as the blood vessels in this area are closer to the surface of the skin. Because of this, lips require different care to ensure they remain healthy and plump.

There are many trends dominating the lip care realm and it is important to note which of these help and which cause damage. Let’s take a look at a few myths that surround the lips and uncover which are true and which you are better off ignoring:

MYTH #1: YOU SHOULD EXFOLIATE YOUR LIPS

Answer: FALSE

Exfoliation is a method that sloughs off dead skin and is most commonly practiced on the face. Yet now there are a number of exfoliating lip products on the market promising baby soft lips and many people have been jumping on this bandwagon. What people do not realize is that the lips are equipped with a special top layer that does not accumulate dead skin cells – thus making the need for lip exfoliation unnecessary. When your lips are dry or chapped, the skin is telling you it needs to be repaired – usually with moisture. By exfoliating the lips you are removing an important protective barrier, inevitably leaving the skin more compromised.

MYTH #2: COLLAGEN IS GREAT FOR LIPS

Answer: TRUE

Collagen is one of those buzz words that has started popping up more and more over the past year – and for good reason! One type in particular called hydrolyzed collagen is extremely beneficial to lip skin. Collagen is a protein that makes up bodily tissues, bones, and organs. In order for the body to keep regenerating cells and promoting new cell growth, amino acids must be present to ensure this process runs smoothly. Hydrolyzed collagen is considered to be the key, as it supplies these necessary amino acids for that process to occur. When lip skin is properly supported by this collagen, they appear smoother, moisturized, and healthy. If you are looking to implement collagen into your routine, topical lip products that stimulate the body’s natural collagen production are the best option, as oral supplements (aka ingestibles) do not have as much benefit.

MYTH #3: HYALURONIC ACID IS GOOD FOR LIP HEALTH

Answer: FALSE-ish

Hyaluronic acid is a popular ingredient cosmetic companies like to advertise as a big selling point to their products. While hyaluronic acid has many benefits for lips, sodium hyaluronate is the best ingredient for lip skin.  Sodium hyaluronate is derived from hyaluronic acid, but packs more of a punch because it has a smaller molecular weight than hyaluronic acid, allowing it to penetrate the skin easier. It deeply hydrates the lips and helps to “plump” dry surface lines and reduce transepidermal water loss – this means that Sodium hyluronate keeps moisture from evaporating off the surface of your lips.

MYTH #4: CAFFEINE PLUMPS YOUR LIPS

Answer: TRUTH

When you haven’t slept enough or just need an afternoon pick-me-up, you most likely turn to your favorite jolt of caffeine. Did you know that caffeine is great for keeping lips full? These days there are products known as lip “plumpers” that have grown more popular.  However, all you really need is a little caffeine to do the trick! Caffeine causes a stimulation in blood flow, sending more blood to the lips, creating the effect of a fuller pucker. Tread lightly though, as too much caffeine consumption can cause overall dehydration, leaving your lips dry and cracked. Stick with topical methods for the best results and look for lip balms that list caffeine in their ingredients to achieve a plumper pout.

If  your lips have never been a priority, perhaps it is time to try a new approach. Lips are some of the most used and abused parts of the body and are also the most under-protected. We spend all day talking, eating, drinking, and applying layers of lip balm that may or may not be helping our lip health. It is imperative to take a step back and look at what a dedicated lip care routine should look like, what products to avoid vs which ones to stock your medicine cabinet with. If you give this small area a bit more love, you will experience beautiful, fuller, moisturized lips in no time!

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