Sun Tanning Questions

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

Written by: Anastasija

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Sunscreen can be a tricky topic at times, because we don’t really hear about it enough, and there are so many elements to your sunscreen regime that are forgotten. If you’re wondering whether you need to protect your lips from the harmful UV rays, here is the information you need.

What is the structure of your lips?

Firstly, although it may sound random or irrelevant, understanding the structure of your lips, and how they work, is actually some valuable information. The truth is, you need to understand your skin’s structure to properly interpret and digest the damage and effect of the Sun on it, so the same applies to the lips.

Although they seem to be made differently to the rest of the components of your face, your lips are, in fact, made up completely of skin, just like the rest of your facial features. Just like the skin on your cheeks, forehead or nose, there is an epidermis, the surface skin, and beneath that you’ll find muscles, responsible for the various expressions you can create with your lips. However, they don’t contain oil or sweat glands, and are one of the only places (aside from the palms of your hands and soles of your feet) where hair won’t grow on your body.

Broad-spectrumProvides protection against both UVA and UVB rays, reducing the risk of sunburn.
SPF LevelDetermines the level of sun protection the lip sunscreen offers.
Moisturizing FormulaHelps keep the lips hydrated and prevents dryness and chapping.
Natural IngredientsContains natural extracts or organic ingredients for a gentle formula.
Long-lastingOffers long-lasting protection, even during outdoor activities.
Water-resistantResistant to water, sweat, or moisture for extended wear.
Non-greasyAbsorbs quickly without leaving a greasy residue on the lips.
Fragrance-freeSuitable for those with sensitivity to fragrances or scented products.
HypoallergenicSuitable for individuals with sensitive or allergy-prone skin.
Dermatologist-testedTested and approved by dermatologists for safety and efficacy.
Table 1: Key Features of Sunscreen for Lips

Because of the lack of oils and sweat glands, your lips are much more prone to dryness and cracking. Another stark difference to the rest of your skin is that your lips have just three to five layers of skin cells, whereas the rest of your face can have up to sixteen. This is why your lips are much darker red in colour, as the blood vessels are much more visible, which makes the lips very delicate.

Do you need sunscreen on your lips?

Now, the real question is whether or not you need to keep your lips in mind when applying sunscreen, as they are made from skin, too, but do the same rules apply? You may even have seen SPF protection created specifically for your lips, which is another reason this question can arise, so let’s find out.

Firstly, in simple terms, the answer is yes, you do need to wear a sunscreen on your lips, and the explanation for this is similar to that for your skin, and it’s not too difficult to understand. In essence, your lips are still skin, so sun exposure poses the same risks and potential damage to your lips as it does to your face and body.


However, in many ways, your lips are at even more risk of damage and problems as a result of the Sun’s rays, due to their differences to the skin. Firstly, as mentioned earlier, your lips only consist of three to five layers, making them much thinner than the possible sixteen that can be found on your face. This means that the lips have much less defence to begin with, so they’re an easier target.

Look for broad-spectrum lip sunscreenChoose a lip sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays to shield your lips from sunburn and long-term damage.
Opt for a minimum SPF of 15 or higherEnsure the lip sunscreen has a sufficient Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher to effectively guard against harmful UV rays.
Apply lip sunscreen generously and frequentlyApply a generous amount of lip sunscreen to cover your lips thoroughly and reapply every two hours or after eating or drinking.
Extend sun protection to the surrounding areaApply lip sunscreen beyond the lip line to protect the skin around your lips from sun damage, as it can also be sensitive to the sun.
Choose lip sunscreen with moisturizing propertiesOpt for a lip sunscreen that offers hydration to keep your lips soft and prevent dryness, especially in sunny or dry conditions.
Avoid flavored or scented lip productsFlavored or scented lip products may encourage licking, which can reduce the effectiveness of the sunscreen and increase sun damage.
Check the expiration dateEnsure the lip sunscreen is not expired to guarantee its efficacy and protection against UV rays.
Table 2: Tips for Choosing and Using Lip Sunscreen

In addition, the skin produces a certain pigment, known as melanin, from small structures in the lower layers of the skin, known as melanocytes. Melanin production is triggered by Sun exposure, and it comes from the Sun’s rays penetrating your skin, acting as a defence against extreme damage and sunburn. However, your lips don’t work in the same way, and they don’t have these melanocytes structures to produce melanin as natural protection, so your lips are left without any natural defence mechanism against these rays, making them more vulnerable to damage again.

Although your lips don’t have the same protection from the Sun’s rays as the rest of your skin does, you may still be wondering if you need to protect it – are there even any risks that come from skipping the SPF on your lips? In fact, there are, and the same problems have the possibility to arise as they would on your skin, including:

  • The potential future development of skin cancer
  • Signs of aging, such as wrinkling and a loss of firmness
  • Chapped and extremely dry lips
  • Pain and swelling if the lips are sunburnt

Which sunscreen is best for your lips?

Now that we’ve established that you do, as a matter of a fact, need to wear some sort of UV protection on your lips, you may be wondering where to start. Face sunscreens can often be forgotten in the media and advertising, but lip sunscreens seem to be even rarer and difficult to find, not to mention the complication of them not being effective.

In terms of the level of protection, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends at least SPF 30 for adequate, effective protection. You should also remember to keep applying the product throughout the day, and it’s usually quite easy to feel when a lip product has worn off, so just apply a new coat when your lips feel bare! Most lip sunscreens actually come in the form of a lip balm stick, and sometimes a tin, which contains sun protection ingredients, just like a regular sunscreen.

Here are three of the best sunscreens for your lips:

1. Sun Bum Lip Balm SPF 30, 3 Pack

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Sun Bum SPF 30 Sunscreen Lip Balm | Vegan and Cruelty Free Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Lip Care with Aloe and Vitamin E for Moisturized Lips | Variety Pack |0.15 Ounce (Pack of 3)
  • SPF 30 SUNSCREEN LIP BALM - VARIETY PACK. Our fav SPF lip balm trio with Aloe and Vitamin E to protect and moisturize your kisser all day long. Our smooth and hydrating formula with Aloe and Vitamin E is great for everyday lip protection.
  • LASTING LIP PROTECTION. Our unique SPF lip balm is not just for a day at the beach. This triple action formula will protect, heal and moisturize your lips, whether you’re hitting the beach, slopes or just cruising around town. We’ve got you covered.

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Sun Bum is one of the most popular and well-trusted sun care brands in the skincare industry, and their products are ever popular for their performance, as well as their ethics. This set comes with three SPF 30 lip balms which comes in three different flavours: coconut, banana and watermelon.

With a small collection like this, you can be sure that you won’t run low anytime soon, and you have a great selection of summer flavours, too. Not to mention, they’re cruelty-free, vegan and enriched with luscious ingredients to give your lips the best experience possible, making them baby-soft.

2. COOLA Organic Liplux Tinted Lip Balm and Sunscreen with SPF 30

COOLA Organic Liplux Tinted Lip Balm and Sunscreen with SPF 30, Dermatologist Tested Lip Care for Daily Protection, Vegan and Gluten Free, 0.15 Oz
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COOLA is another popular brand for sun protection, and they are known for their organic formulas which are also good for your skin and ensure the best level of effective protection. This one, as with all of their products, is dermatologist tested and made with the best ingredients to protect the delicate skin on your lips.

Along with the SPF 30 protection that this lip balm provides (which is plenty for everyday wear), this lip balm has a subtle tint to it, as well. This makes it perfect for anyone looking for a slightly more elevated look, and it’s a great substitute for a light gloss which will actually protect your lips, too.

3. EltaMD UV Lip Balm Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36

EltaMD UV SPF Lip Balm Sunscreen, Sunscreen Lip Balm with SPF, Protects Dry Cracked Lips, Transparent Zinc Oxide Lip Sunscreen, 0.28 Tube
  • EltaMD UV SPF Lip Balm Sunscreen is a creamy lip sunscreen with SPF and Zinc Oxide that provides powerful UV protection and superior hydration to keep your lips feeling luxuriously soft throughout the day
  • Protect dry, chapped, sun exposed lips and help restore their natural softness with this moisturizing lip balm for dry lips

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For a more technical brand who are focused on delivering high-quality formulas with excellent research and ingredients, this lip balm from EltaMD is professional and soothing. Your lips will be left moisturised and soft, whilst also embracing the benefits of sun protection and the combat of skin aging and free radicals. The SPF 36 protection is a little higher than the recommendation, making it great for anyone whose lips are already damaged, as well as for guaranteeing even more protection.

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Final thoughts

In the end, it’s up to you when it comes to which sunscreen or other protection product you use on your lips, but it’s important that you remember this important step in your beauty regimen. Once you start taking care of your lips, you’ll notice a difference in how soft they are, and you’ll avoid problems like chapping and painful sunburns.

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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