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Using sunscreen is almost always the first suggestion proposed by dermatologists and skin cancer researchers. They also agree that wearing sunscreen on the lips is extremely important as the lips have little or no natural protection from the sun. Wearing a lipstick with SPF can provide the protection that your lips need to fend off premature aging and skin cancer from sun exposure.
As a general rule, try to buy lipstick with SPF 15 or higher for adequate sun protection. This rule actually applies to other cosmetics as well. Foundations, moisturizers, and cosmetic facial powders with sun protection of at least SPF 15 can all help protect the skin from sun damage.
Opaque lipstick is more likely to provide greater protection against the sun than clear or translucent lip glosses. Even if an individual does not wish to wear a bold lip color on an everyday basis, a nude, lip-colored opaque lipstick might be a better choice to shield the lips from the sun. Lip balms sometimes offer SPF as well, and can be used in place of more noticeable lip color. Men, as well as women who do not wear heavier lipsticks and lip glosses, might benefit from these lip balms with sunscreen.
Dermatologists do recommend avoiding applying very shiny, clear lip gloss to bare lips. The clear, shiny glosses tend to direct sunlight to the lips and increase the likelihood of sun damage occurring to the lips. For those who do not wish to part with the look of shiny lip glosses, the damage can be minimized by layering the lip gloss on top of an opaque lipstick with SPF. This lipstick can be a nude lip color to maintain the look of bare lips underneath the shiny gloss while still providing protection from the sun.
Wearing a lipstick with SPF should provide adequate protection for everyday wear, but it is important to step up the sun protection if an extended day in the sun is planned. Some sunscreens are made specifically for use on the delicate skin of the lips and offer a higher SPF than a lipstick. If possible, apply the sunscreen to the lips first before layering on a lipstick with SPF to maximize lip protection. As with sunscreen on the rest of the body, it is important to reapply every couple of hours, especially when swimming, sweating, or doing any other activities that may remove the sunscreen and reduce its effectiveness.