Did you look in the mirror barefaced recently and got worried about the dark patches on your skin? Or even worse – the dark patches that seem to have suddenly formed around your upper lip, or even the darkening of your naturally pink lips that didn’t seem to be there years before?
If those worries have found their way into your head and you’ve recently had to learn the art of concealing your lips with a less sheer lipstick, chances are you’re dealing with hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is a broad term that refers to a widespread issue: Skin discolouration. We commonly know of hyperpigmentation as ‘sun spots’ or ‘liver spots’ that pop up around our cheeks and eye area as we age, or those dark spots that tend to get greater in frequency after hormonal changes like pregnancy and childbirth. Little did we expect that those same changes could also happen on our lips! Pigmentation can happen in almost any part of your body, but people – especially ladies – tend to get more concerned when they notice hyperpigmentation around the lips and the mouth. Although lip discolouration is rarely serious, and our lip tone can often change from individual to individual just like our skin tone, a change in lip colour can often mean that your lips are starting to need more care.
Naturally, pink lips tend to be the beauty ideal that women prefer to see in the mirror. After all, we can’t be wearing lipstick forever! What actually causes dark lips, and what are some ways to have pink lips? Is that possible with lip fillers in Singapore even without going to the extent of lip tattooing? Read on to find out!
What Causes Dark Lips?
Just like the skin on our face, our lips also need regular pampering. We know that the skin under our eyes is thinner than the other areas, and we usually take care to dab on eye cream, usually with our fourth finger and pinky finger, to avoid damage that can cause wrinkles. However, we forget that the skin on our lips are thin too, and may require the same level of care, or else we will find ourselves with dark lips. The loss of our lips’ natural pink flush can be due to many reasons, including lifestyle habits (smoking, sun exposure) and also medical factors (medication, food allergies, trauma).
1. Sun Exposure
UV exposure still remains one of the most important factors in hyperpigmentation. When our lips are exposed to the sun, UV rays accelerate the photoageing process and tans the lips by increasing melanin production.
Smoking can really contribute to excess melanin creation in the skin. Substances like nicotine, tar, and benzopyrene encourage melanocytes to grow larger which increases melanin production. It also damages elastin and collagen in the lips which are responsible for elasticity, making the lips look dull and dry.
Temporary changes can happen when a person is on anti-malarial and anti-retroviral drugs, which can cause temporary skin darkening that includes the lips due to temporary gathering of melanin. Once the course of medication is completed, skin tone usually returns to normal.
4. Skin allergies
In a condition called pigmented contact cheilitis, you may develop dark patches on your lips if they are exposed to irritants that your skin is sensitive to. Chemicals in expired lipstick, hair dye, or even green tea can cause an allergy reaction that darkens the lips. Watch out for those expiry dates!
No, we’re not talking about that time when you fell on your face and busted your lip. We’re talking about daily microtraumas to your lips if you have the habit of licking, biting, or picking at your lips. When the thin skin of your lips are constantly damaged, chapped and dry lips are not given the opportunity to heal well. Lip licking then happens as it feels ‘natural’ to reduce dryness, but the salivary enzymes like amylase and maltase actually wear down the skin on the lips and make them more vulnerable to dry air, hence increasing risk for hyperpigmentation.
What Are Ways to Make Your Lips Naturally Pink?
1. Sun Protection & Moisturisation
For naturally pink lips, sun protection is an absolute must! A lip balm with SPF 30 or higher is recommended, as their photoprotective components help to protect your lips from the sun’s rays. Since persistent dryness can cause the release of more melanin, lip balm should also be moisturising enough. Ingredients like Vitamin E, arbutin, antioxidants, and petrolatum are preferred to increase hydration and form a protective barrier against drying environments like an air-conditioned office.
2. Diet & Hydration
It may not seem obvious, but diet plays a role in obtaining naturally pink lips. Enough fruits and vegetables help your body’s antioxidant levels and provide hydration, as well as 7-8 glasses of water a day. This is important as dehydrated lips tend to chap more easily, and there is a tendency to lick the lips when this happens, which increases pigmentation. Take care of your caffeine intake as well, since it is a diuretic and can dehydrate your lips.
3. Avoid bad habits
This includes cutting back on smoking cigarettes and ceasing licking or picking at your lips! Not just for your lips, but cutting back on smoking will benefit other areas of your aesthetic wellness, as the chemicals in cigarette smoke have numerous negative effects such as increasing premature ageing of your skin. The National Cancer Institute has a website that provides data and also free guidance for individuals looking to stop smoking. And as mentioned before, your natural pink lips tend to become dull and dark when they are constantly damaged through picking and constant licking. Remember, the skin on our lips is thin and delicate, and we should treat them as such.
Beyond Lip Service – Walk the Talk!
Just like how you see a dentist for a toothache, it’s a better idea to see our professional team at SL Aesthetics if you notice any recent discolorations on your lips. Our doctors are certified and experienced enough to assess your lip health. Book a consultation today!