It is both puzzling and astonishing how our skin is naturally a palette of various colours. Despite being categorised into specific skin tones, each body part may be lighter or darker than the rest. Take your lips, for example.

They are a few shades darker or more pink than the rest of your face, typically with a reddish-brown tinge. But when your beautiful pout turns into a much darker colour, alarm bells start ringing. Not only does it zap your confidence away, but it may also be a sign of a serious condition.

Read on as we discuss the pressing topic of lip pigmentation, its causes, and how you can treat it.

What is lip pigmentation?

Lip pigmentation is the darkening or discolouration that occurs on your lip area. Did you notice how your lips are reddish pink in colour? That’s because of the thin, delicate skin covering the blood vessels underneath. This makes your lips more susceptible to damage, drying, and of course, pigmentation.

What causes lip pigmentation?

Your lips have a built-in protective barrier that protects against environmental aggressors (dirt, pollution, and UV rays) and moisture loss. However, since the skin on the lips is thinner, its protective barrier is not as potent. It cannot hold up as much moisture to retain the natural pigment of your lips. 

Also, your lips have fewer melanocytes, a.k.a. the cells that produce melanin and give your skin colour. The more melanocytes you have, the darker your skin looks. When your lips are constantly exposed to damaging factors, it produces more melanocytes. This makes your pout look dark, dull, and grey. 

Another factor that causes dark lips is the lip products you use. It sounds ironic since you use lip colours to conceal your dark lips. But if you think about it, they could be adding more salt to the wound. Some lip products contain chemicals that alter the natural shade of your lips, while some can trigger irritations and allergies.

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Exfoliate your lips. 

The accumulation of dead skin cells on your lips can also cause hyperpigmentation. Make sure to get rid of the build-up by using a gentle lip scrub to reveal baby-soft, pink lips. Exfoliate your lips once a week only, and do not overdo it as it may cause microabrasion. 

Stop licking your lips.

Has it also been your habit to lick your lips when they feel dry? Well, it turns out it’s doing more harm than good. Saliva contains digestive enzymes, such as amylase and maltase, which wear down the skin on the lips. These can break down pigment and make lips more vulnerable to dry air, increasing the possibility of hyperpigmentation.

Ditch the cigars. 

Cigarettes contain nicotine, which shrinks your blood vessels and deprives your skin of oxygen. Add tar to the mix, and you end up with darker gums and lips. So, if you’re fond of smoke breaks, it’s about time to break free from it as well.

Apply SPF to your lips.

It may sound strange, but sun exposure causes lip pigmentation just as it does to the rest of your body. There are lip creams and balms that contain SPF, so get them on your next skincare restock. 

Talk to your doctor about it.

Sometimes, the culprit is your hormones, melasma, or certain medications. Ask your doctor about any side effects or symptoms that may be causing dark lips. They can also recommend which aesthetic treatments can help lighten them! Need an aesthetic doctor? Try the trusted team at SW1 Clinic to learn all about safe treatments and reveal a better version of yourself.

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