Shiny lips are beautiful. Lip glosses bring out the natural color of your lips, and the shimmery light gives you an irresistibly-kissable look. Lip gloss also, however, allows ultraviolet radiation to penetrate the delicate skin of your lips, increasing the risk for sun damage and even lip cancer later in life.
Data from a study at the University of California Los Angeles suggest that lip gloss increases the risk of skin cancer in women.
Ordinarily some sunlight is reflected off the skin on the lips, so it doesn’t penetrate. Shiny balms and glosses actually allow more of the light to penetrate, potentially causing damage.
Ultraviolet light damage can lead to pre-skin cancer growths such as actinic chelitis (rough scaly lips that never heal), dark spots called solar lentigos, or blebs of dilated blood vessels which form an unattractive purple bump called venus lakes. Ultraviolet light can also lead to a potentially dangerous type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
Fear not though, glossy-lip girls, there is a simple solution.
Lipsticks and lip balms with sunscreens can protect your lips, even with the lip gloss. Apply a lip balm with SPF of 15 (or preferably SPF of 30 if you are going to be in the sun for more than 30 minutes) before you apply your lip gloss. Some of my patients have liked Kiels SPF 15 lip balm or Eco Lips SPF 30. Then leave the house both looking good and feeling good, knowing that you are protected.
Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD
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Photo credit: Mary B. Flickr.com