Lip gloss fiends, it’s time to tweak your habit. While you’ve been habitually slathering on the stuff multiple times a day, without any SPF protection, that flick of your wrist significantly increases your risk of developing lip cancer.
Lips are already vulnerable because of regular, direct exposure to sunrays, and the lacquered lip trend only magnifies the hazard, says YouBeauty dermatology expert, Jeanine B. Downie, M.D., who says she has seen an uptick in skin cancer of the lip among women in her Montclair, N.J. practice.
“Lip gloss absorbs rays much the same way baby oil does, and a thinning ozone and more intense sun rays are all combining to fuel an increase in lip cancer,” says Dr. Downie, who recommends wearing a lip balm containing a sunscreen underneath lip color, or choosing a shade with a built-in SPF. Steer clear of lip products that offer single digit sun protection (it isn’t sufficient), and opt instead for an SPF 15 or higher and make sure to reapply adequately and often to get the full benefit.
What’s worse, a number of experts contend that loading up on lip gloss can actually intensify potential cancer-causing radiation. “The shiny reflective finish of lip gloss creates a mirror-like prism that strengthens sunrays like a magnifying glass,” explains Downie.
The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that 81 percent of lip cancers appear on the lower lip and one’s risk escalates with cumulative exposure.
“Nine out of 10 people diagnosed with lip cancer are over the age of 45,” says New York cosmetic dentist Dr. Lana Rozenberg, D.D.S.
And cold sore sufferers should take note: If you’re prone to eruptions, wearing a sunscreen-infused balm will help control flare-ups, since sunburn is a prime sore trigger, according to Downie.
Check out some SPF lip picks that aren’t waxy or metallic-tasting, and wear comfortably alone or under another lip color.
Fresh Sugar lip balm devotees are cult-like in their adoration of this sweet salve. The balm, which comes in original and tinted versions, blends reparative oils and waxes with the moisture-sealing properties of sugar and an SPF 15.
Mature lips plagued by fine lines will appreciate the peptide-packed formula that stimulates collagen production with a boost of vitamin C. Natural cocoa- and shea-butters blend with jojoba-, apricot kernel- and avocado oils in three hydrating neutral shades.
A drugstore delight, The ergometric design of Eos’ lip sphere keeps fingers out of the pot and 100 percent natural lemon drop flavor and SPF 15 on your lips. Shea butter and jojoba oil hydrate in this gluten-free formula that’s enriched with vitamin E antioxidant goodness.
Indigenous to India, Sri Lanka and Australia, an extract from the botanical plant known as centella asiatica is blended into a balm to help stimulate lip circulation and lend a cherub-like color to lips. Therapeutic conditioners like vitamin C and E plus shea butter, aloe and tingling camphor protect and replenish.
Beverly Hills dermatologist Stuart H. Kaplan, M.D., created this trio of anti-aging lip savers that don’t contain castor oil or petrolatum “which amplify sun damage to the delicate skin,” he says. Instead, marine extracts, hyaluronic spheres, papaya enzymes, apple pectin and seabuckthorn-berry extract provide the healing properties of this line of lip products with an SPF 20.
An impressively high SPF rating goes beyond the norm for a lip sunscreen and features ultra-fine titanium dioxide and zinc oxide ingredients that remain stable without being absorbed by skin. Yet despite the high SPF, chemists designed this balm to spread on smoothly without leaving behind any white residue.
A natural pick for green gals, Iredale’s formula of macadamia nut-, sunflower seed-, avocado- and jojoba seed-oils include zinc oxide for full spectrum protection. This colorless, lemon- and orange-flavored balm lays down the perfect base for lipstick layering. Antioxidants such as green tea extract, vitamin C and E add anti-aging integrity.
For drama queens, the surplus of sheer tinted finishes in the SPF lip category can lack gumption. Try YSL’s high impact, saturated line of vibrant colors inspired by the namesake designer’s favorite palette: red, fuchsia and orange. The only thing more eye-catching is the iconic gold case.
Outdoor sports enthusiasts should pack this waterproof, avobenzone-based SPF lip balm in a pocket to counter the drying heat of the sun. This fragrance-free formula is great for those who are sensitive to scent and taste.
For perpetually dry lips, L’Oréal’s new balm with argan oil, shea butter and vitamin E claims to comfort for up to eight hours (though we had to reapply at lunchtime), but the soft vanilla scent and selection of eight universally-flattering shades made it feel like a high-end buy.
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