Refinery29 Asks Dr. Swann: How is Sunscreen for Your Lips?

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The One Place You’re Not Using SPF — But Should Be

The tops of the ears, the back of the neck, between the shoulder blades: What sounds like a G-rated version of that Khia song is also a list of the easy-to-miss spots derms always remind us to hit with SPF. But our lips? They’re incredibly easy to neglect, which, according to the experts, could be dangerous.

“SPF on the lips is important,” says board-certified dermatologist Michael Swann, MD. “Lips are actually a common place for skin cancers, and because the barrier function of the skin on the lips is less vigorous, these tumors can quickly behave more aggressively than the same tumors in other locations.”

That’s a scary way of saying don’t skip the lips, even if they don’t tend to immediately burn or freckle. “While lips do have some extra color, which people often translate as protection from the sun, it’s rarely melanin,” says board-certified dermatologist Karyn Grossman, MD, referring to the protective pigment in skin. “Applying SPF to the lips is a crucial part of your SPF routine.”

Luckily, taking a second to protect your pout is as easy as applying the right lip color — just heed Dr. Grossman’s tips to be sure you’re doing it right. Naturally, you know SPF 30 is best, but most lip SPFs ring in lower. “[Finding an SPF 30 or above] can be a bit tricky, as many are 15 to 20,” Dr. Grossman says. Her tip? Do your best to pick something high in SPF, but know the most important factor is reapplying. “Find something that you are happy to put on frequently — like every hour or so.”

Diligent application is a lot easier when you’re smoothing on a killer color, not a chalky paste. So we’ve rounded up our favorite lip shades that also protect, from an everyday rosy gloss to vibrant, look-at-me hues that are just as pretty post-sunset.
Ahead, our favorite SPF-packed lip colors to carry you through summer and beyond.

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