Sun Tanning Questions

Can Your Lips Get Sunburnt? (Tips to Protect Them)

Written by: Anastasija

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We’re all familiar with the concept of the skin on our face and body burning, and many of us have perhaps even had a painful encounter with this before. But what about the lips? They are another feature on our face, but do we need to protect them from the Sun too?

Can your lips get sunburnt?

Before we can answer this question, you do need a little understanding about the structure of the lips, as well as how the process of sunburning works. Although this may not seem like very important information, it’s very useful to know about sunburning in general as the same applies to other parts of the body and understanding the processes that take place in our bodies is essential.

Direct exposure to sunlightProlonged exposure to UV rays from the sun can lead to lip sunburn.
Lack of sunscreen or lip balmNot applying sunscreen or lip balm with SPF can leave the lips vulnerable to sunburn.
Reflective surfacesSurfaces like water, sand, and snow can reflect sunlight onto the lips, increasing the risk of sunburn.
High-altitude environmentsAt higher altitudes, the intensity of UV radiation increases, making the lips more susceptible to sunburn.
Medications or certain conditionsSome medications and conditions can make the skin and lips more sensitive to sunlight, increasing the risk of sunburn.
Table 1: Common Causes of Lip Sunburn

Firstly, the structure of the lips is, of course, a little different to that of the skin, and we can see that just be looking at them, but you may be surprised by how similar they really are. In fact, the lips are made out of skin, but the main difference is that the skin is much thinner here than in other areas, and this is why our blood vessels are so present from underneath, giving the lips a red colour. As a comparison, the skin on our face can be up to 16 layers of cells thick in places, but the lips are only between 3-5 layers thick, making them much more delicate.

burnt lips by-Anastasija-Thirsty-for-tan

The process of receiving a painful sunburn involves some of the waves emitted by the Sun, known as UV rays, and they split into two subcategories, UVA and UVB. When a UV rays penetrate the skin (if it’s unprotected by sunscreen), they first trigger a reaction from your skin, the production of melanin from melanocytes, small structures beneath the skin’s surface, to produce a suntan. However, after too much sun exposure, UVB ray exposure will result in a radiation burn, which causes DNA damage in upper layers of the skin cells – sunburn.

So, in truth, yes, your lips can get sunburnt just like the skin on other parts of your face can, and it’s worth knowing this so that you can protect them in the future. The melanocytes mentioned earlier, found below the skin’s surface and responsible for producing a suntan from melanin, a pigment to protect your skin from UV damage, aren’t present in the lips. This means that the lips don’t have the same first line of natural defence that the skin does, so they’re actually much more vulnerable to potential damage.


In addition, the lips have a much thinner skin cell layer above the blood vessels underneath, making it much faster to penetrate. And, as they’re already red, it’s very difficult to spot the first instance when they are beginning to suffer some Sun damage.

Another thing that you may not have been aware of is that the sunburn on your lips can have immediate and long-term effects too, just like your skin. Generally, you’ll start to notice that they feel painful and cracked very soon, such as in the evening, but over the years that DNA damage can develop into a variety of concerns.

How can you protect your lips from getting sunburnt?

So, it’s clear that the lips can get sunburnt, but that only part of the equation. If we know that the lips can receive this damage, it’s crucial for us to find out how to prevent it in the first place. We’ve also established that the lips are much more vulnerable than the rest of the skin, so it’s important to remember to protect them, as there’s nothing they can do themselves.


Just as you’d treat your skin when going outside, you need to remember to protect your lips with an SPF. It’s very simple, and very fast, so you’ll be happy to hear that, by adding some lip protection to your daily routine, you’re not sacrificing lots of your time. In fact, you’re not sacrificing your money, either, as these lip products tend to be very inexpensive, and they last for a very long time, as well as being small enough and convenient to carry in a purse for top-ups during the day.

Use lip balm with SPFApply a lip balm that contains SPF to protect your lips from harmful UV rays.
Reapply lip balm frequentlyRegularly reapply lip balm, especially after eating, drinking, or spending time outdoors.
Seek shade or use a lip sun-protectantWhen exposed to direct sunlight, seek shade or use accessories like lip sun-protectant products or clothing.
Avoid licking your lipsLicking your lips can actually dry them out and increase the risk of sunburn.
Stay hydratedKeep your body and lips hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day.
Table 2: Tips to Protect Your Lips from Sunburn

In terms of the level of protection, the lips can receive plenty of protection from an SPF 30 product, as long as you remember to apply it continuously throughout the day.

Also read: Do You Need Sunscreen on Your Lips? (3 Recommended Ones)

What are the best products for protecting the lips from sunburn?

If you’re interested in protecting your lips from the Sun’s damage, you may want to find out what the best products for the purpose are. In general, it’s good to know that most lip protection products are effective and safe, but it can also be a matter of finding one that aligns with your ethics or feels comfortable when wearing it. Here are two recommendations:

Sun Bum Signature SPF 30 Sunscreen Lip Balm

Sun Bum Signature SPF 30 Sunscreen Lip Balm | Vegan and Cruelty Free Broad Spectrum Water Resistant Chapstick with UVA/UVB Protection | .15 oz , Clear
  • SIGNATURE SPF 30 SUNSCREEN LIP BALM. We developed our Signature line for the days that we live for. Our mineral based Signature sunscreen offers the very best broad spectrum protection for those of us who work and play hard in the sun.
  • LASTING SUN PROTECTION. It won’t migrate during your rigorous activities in the water, wind, or blazing hot sun. Sun Bum Signature is trusted by many lifeguard and beach rescue organizations.

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If you’re looking for a brand that has great values, and give a little back to the planet, you’ll love Sun Bum. Their products are known for their effectivity and great formulas, and this lip balm is no exception. You can also find some scented lip balms from the same brand if you’d like to add some flavour at the same time!

Supergoop! PLAY Lip Balm SPF 30 With Acai

Supergoop! PLAY Lip Balm with Acai, 0.5 fl oz - SPF 30 PA+++ Broad Spectrum Sunscreen - Hydrating Honey, Shea Butter & Sunflower Seed Oil - Clean Ingredients - Great for Active Days
  • PROTECT YOUR POUT - This hydrating, acai-flavored lip balm with SPF absorbs both UVA (aging) & UVB (burning) rays so your skin doesn’t.
  • FEEL-GOOD FORMULA - Our lightweight SPF 30 lip balm protects one of the most sun-sensitive parts of your body. Your new favorite lip balm with SPF is here!

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You may have heard of ‘Supergoop!’ before, as their sunscreen is a favourite among many beauty lovers and professionals, thanks to it incredible no-white-cast formula. With this lip balm, you can be sure that you’re getting great protection without using reef-damaging ingredients and getting maximum hydration, all at once.

Also read: Best Organic Lip Balm With SPF (My Recommendation)

Final thoughts

If you didn’t know about this topic before, now you should be an expert on all things concerning lips and their need to be protected from the Sun. Remember to keep applying it as the day goes on, and that you need it all year around. Once you start protecting your lips and taking care of them, you’ll notice that they don’t get so dry and cracked, and you will have peace of mind that they’re not suffering damage!

About Anastasija

Welcome to my website! I'm Anastasija, and as a redhead with a sensitivity to the sun, I embarked on a quest to find the perfect sunless tanner six years ago.

After extensive research and four years of personal experience, I'm here to share my wealth of tips and tricks for achieving a beautiful, sun-kissed glow.

Whether you're interested in self-tanners, spray tans, or safe sun exposure, this website covers it all.

Join me as I provide valuable insights and guidance for various methods of getting that desired tan.

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