Don't Neglect Your Lips

Time and time again, I encounter patients who vigilantly apply sunscreen in the morning, wear a hat when they're in the sun more than a few minutes ... and stare blankly back at me when I ask what they're doing for their lips.

Remember, lips are exposed to the sun too - in fact, they're more susceptible to sun damage than other exposed skin because they don't produce sebum. (Rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, sebum offers some natural protection against UV damage.)

That's why lips are more prone to skin cancer than many other parts of the body; UV exposure also leads to excessive dryness and can cause deterioration of lips' collagen.

Luckily, many lip balms contain SPF these days. You can also find it in some fabulous lipsticks: I love Laura Mercier's Lip Balm and Lip Kisses, both of which include SPF. Many other brands also offer lipstick with SPF, so be sure to check your favorite.

But what if you find that you've upgraded to lip care products with SPF, and you slather your lips with moisturizing balm throughout the day, but you still have dry, scaly lips? Sounds like you might actually be experiencing an allergy.

Allergies to flavorings like various mints or cinnamon - common ingredients in some lip products as well as toothpaste and gum - can masquerade as chronic chapped lips. (I experienced this when I tried a peppermint lip balm, for example.) Try eliminating minty products and see if the condition improves.

Red dye is another common lip allergen, so if you develop a rash that may be the culprit. And anyone with acne-prone skin should avoid lip products with coconut oil, which can clog the pores around the lips.

On a final note, I just have to share my latest lipstick addiction: I absolutely love the look and the texture of L'Oreal Glam Shine. The colors are gorgeous (be sure to check out Prima Donna) and it's inexpensive enough to stash a few tubes in your purse, car, or desk.

Wishing you great skin (and a perfect pout)!

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Dr. Baumann is author of the best-selling book," The Skin Type Solution." To learn more about her revolutionary skin typing system, visit her Web site,

All of Dr. Baumann's recommended skin care products are available online, and a portion of proceeds goes to The Dermatology Foundation.

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