The Essential Summer Lip Care Edit
5 minutes read
Do you follow a dedicated lip care routine? Unfortunately, most of us don’t. While our skincare habits tend to be well thought-through (often involving more steps than we even need), our lips receive somewhat careless treatment. For a lot of us, lip care looks like this:
- Compulsively buy an assortment of lip balms.
- Store them in various locations: desk drawer, handbag, gym bag…
- Reach for the nearest one at the slightest feeling of dryness, or sometimes out of sheer boredom.
But is that enough? Everything from cold weather and dry air to sun damage and dehydration can quickly (and visibly) affect the lips. So, they deserve better care and protection.
And now that summer’s almost here and we’re not required to wear face masks, perhaps it’s a good time to rethink your lip care oils and balms. Here’s everything you should know.
Why lip care is important (and underestimated)
The skin on your lips is very thin
The scientific name for the visible surface of the lip is vermilion – because, of course, it has a reddish hue. This skin is composed of three to five cellular layers and is relatively thin compared to the skin on the rest of the face.
Lips get thinner as you age
“As we age, we begin to lose bone density, which creates a more sunken look in the face, but the lips are less supported as well,” writes board-certified plastic surgeon Dr Yuly Gorodisky on his blog. “This bone loss causes the lips to roll inward, and as a result, they appear thinner than before.”
Plus, sun damage and collagen loss contribute to the thinning process, often also causing wrinkles above the lip. This is why it’s so important to keep your lips moisturised and protected from the sun.
They don’t produce natural oils
“Remember that you don’t have any sebaceous glands in the lip,” says Clarins Training Manager Charlotte McHale. Most of the skin on the rest of your body is protected by sweat and body oils that keep the skin smooth, discourage infections and regulate body temperature. Your lips, on the other hand, don’t have them. “So they are, by definition, dry.”
They are also naturally super sensitive
Lips are more sensitive than even your fingertips. This is because they have an abundance of nerve endings. So, they’re highly sensitive to touch (which is why they’re considered an erogenous zone), warmth and cold.
Your summer lip care routine
Now that we’ve established that your lips deserve more attention, let’s discuss how best to care for them. Thankfully, a 10-step routine won’t be necessary. Instead, here are some quick tips to keep your lips feeling and looking their best this summer.
You can’t have smooth, soft lips without getting rid of the dead skin on the surface. So, don’t forget to exfoliate once or twice a week. As we learned, your lips are very sensitive – so be gentle.
You can use a soft toothbrush or damp towel to gently scrub the surface using small, circular motions. Make sure you apply a thick layer of balm first to avoid damaging the skin.
Alternatively, reach for a scrub. McHale recommends using the Comfort Scrub on the lips. It has oils and sugar microcrystals, which makes it gentle and effective.
Your lips are prone to sun damage, potentially even more than the rest of your skin. For days spent outdoors, use a lip balm with SPF. Consider leaving it in your back pocket – reapplication is vital if you’re eating and drinking a lot.
A few years ago, an online community titled Lip Balm Anonymous became incredibly popular. It was made up of people who believed they were addicted to lip balm – some even claiming to use them 300 times a day. People argued that lip balm use led to more dryness, which drove people to reapply, which led to more dryness.
But is lip balm just a bad habit?
The short answer: no. However, choosing the right formula is essential. Also, licking the balm off will dry out your lips more, so avoid that (no matter how deliciously fruity it may be).
As we established, your lips aren’t very good at keeping themselves moisturised. So, a little help in that department can go a long way. If you find the right balm for you, the moisture will stay locked, and you won’t feel the need to reapply often.
Our lip balm pick would be the Hydra-Essentiel Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm, which has a light cream-gel formula and comes in a travel-friendly tube.
McHale’s favourite is the Extra-Firming Lip and Contour Balm. “It’s plumping and stimulating, but not in a tingly, itchy way,” she says. “And it has an almost matte finish – perfect for when you just want a straightforward lip balm that isn’t shiny or tinted.”
We added an extra step to your summer lip care routine because we believe that a bright lip colour can give you as much joy as smooth, hydrated lips. Even better if you choose one that has nourishing ingredients.
McHale recommends the Joli Rouge range, a super moisturising formula enriched with mango oil. Her go-to summer colours are Spicy Chili (a fiery orangey-red) and Raspberry (a pretty pink).
If you prefer a glossy, sheer lip instead, reach for the Lip Oils. They’re loaded with moisturising plant oils that keep the lips soft while also offering loads of shine.
Next read: Is lip gloss back? A return from the ’90s