I know what you’re thinking. “My lips need SPF?” Come every summer, your skin will get lathered time and time again with sunscreen and makeup containing SPF (sun protection factors) and the lips are forgotten. The reality is, your lower lip receives the most sun exposure on your face, especially when wearing high shine gloss, which tends to attract more UV rays because of its reflective shimmer. As disregarded as it is, protecting your pout from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is crucial, especially this time of year. As easily forgotten as it is, it’s just as quick to remember and prevent by taking precautions and using the correct products.

Unlike the skin that covers the body, the skin on the lips is thinner and contains no melanin, making it especially vulnerable to harmful UV rays. As we know, UV rays can cause both acute and severe damage, ranging from sunburn to premature aging and skin cancer. We also know that sun exposure destroys collagen, which in lips will cause them to deflate and thin. One in five Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer and a common, but often overlooked area is on the lip. Although the majority of lip cancer is noticeable and easily treated, it is always better to prevent rather than treat. There are a few risk factors to be wary of, and exposure to UV rays ranks the highest among them.

Regular use of lip products that contain SPF can reduce this risk. Photoprotective lip blocks can be effective in reducing exposure to UV rays if applied frequently and correctly. SPF tends to be thought of as a “one and done” type of product, but in reality it only lasts two hours at the most. Often times, the SPF that is promised is not met due to the product not being applied heavily enough. To achieve the correct amount of UV protection, most products require twice over application, with frequent reapplication throughout the day. Because lip balms or glosses are easily wiped off (kiss, kiss), it is best to reapply as often as possible.

A good baseline when searching for the right product is one that protects from the full UV spectrum (UVA and UVB) with an SPF of 30 or greater. One product that we love is Colorescience Lip Shine because not only do they come in universally flattering shades, they are combined with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection SPF 35 (!!!). These handy dandy pout protectors are both endorsed and recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

With an upcoming season full of outdoor fun in the sun, SPF is a must! Remember to protect those pouts just as much as the rest of your body.