Hyperpigmentation or darkening of skin is a common complaint of patients especially in India. Lip darkening is also one of the primary complaints of patients coming to skin clinics with hyperpigmentation complaints.
It might come as a surprise, but the state of your lips can reveal a lot about your health too. Just like your skin, your lips need some extra love and care when you notice a change in your lip color and texture.
What causes Dark Lips?
Similar to your skin tone or fingertips, lip mark color varies from person to person.
Excessive amount of melanin pigments can affect your lips resulting in darkening of lips known as ‘Lip Hyperpigmentation’.
Your lips may get hyperpigmented or lose their natural pinkness due to several factors. Often, the culprits for dark lips may be lack of hydration , excessive sun exposure , indulging in habits like smoking , excessive caffeine intake and constant licking of your lips , allergic response to products like toothpaste or lipsticks.
Hyperpigmentation of lips can also be related to systemic conditions like inflammatory diseases , physiologic changes , endocrinologic disorders , adverse reactions to drugs or chemicals and other non-melanocytic conditions.
How to manage Dark Lips?
Although dark lips can be quite stubborn to deal with, it can be managed with proper care and implementing some lifestyle changes.
Here are some precautions and tips to follow:
Quit Smoking! It might be difficult to avoid smoking but not impossible. Nicotine and Benzopyrene in tobacco can increase melanin production which may darken your lips. According to research, almost 30% smokers suffer from a clinically visible darkening of lips.
SPF for your lips too : So, you wear sunscreen religiously like a skin smart person, but what about sun protection of your lips? Leading cosmetic companies have come up with hydrating lip balms with SPF (more than 30) to protect your lips from sun damage. Check out the Sebamed Lip Defense Spf 30, La Roche Posay Anthelios XL lipstick SPF 50+, Nivea Sun Lip Balm with SPF 30, Avene Lip balm SPF 50).
Hydration is the key : Oh yes, those luscious lips can be attained not only by oodles of gloss smearing but by keeping your body well-hydrated too. Your lips are a direct mirror of your body’s hydration status” says Dr. Namrata Singh, our lead dermatologist.
Habitual lip licking : Ah, the way movies have fantasized lip licking as a symbolic flirting gesture! Some people have a habit of lip licking very frequently and they are usually not aware of it. Habitual lip licking is another common reason for darkened lips due to friction, irritation with salivary enzymes and frequent drying post-licking.
Check your lipstick, lip cosmetics and toothpaste : Some lipsticks and lip cosmetics can contain chemicals that can cause chronic allergic contact dermatitis that slowly lead to darkening of lips on frequent usage. Try good brands that are paraben-free and contain minimal chemicals.
Other skin issues like seborrheic dermatitis, angular stomatitis and fungal infections (candidiasis) : You would need consultation with your dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment of such conditions.
Home Remedies for Dark Lips
You can try these home remedy hacks for your darkening lips:
Beetroot : Beetroot is a good exfoliator with naturally occurring red pigments which gives a nice pink flush to your lips by removing dead cells and reducing pigmentation. You can rub a slice of beetroot on your lips or can use the beetroot juice with honey to apply on your lips.
Rose : Rose petals or rose water is a natural moisturizer which softens and nourishes the lips. When used with milk, it is known to produce good results for pigmentation and heal patchy lips.
Aloe Vera : Rich in Vitamin E, Aloe Vera is known for it's moisturizing and healing abilities for dry and chapped lips. Scoop out Aloe Vera gel and use it as a lip balm as often as you like. You can also add a few drops of coconut or olive oil to go with it.
Medical and Procedural Remedies
Lip lightening creams containing retinol, tranexamic acid, arbutin, niacinamide: can be suggested by your dermatologist after establishing diagnosis.
Chemical peels like ferulic acid, azelaic acid peel etc. can be done by your dermatologist at their clinic.
Laser treatment for pigmentation : Pigmentary lasers can also help with lip pigmentation effectively and should be done by your dermatologist since lip is a sensitive part of the body.