One of the questions I get most often about caring for one’s face is if it is ok to use an eye contour cream on the lip contour. Indeed, both contours give away our age: the former (eye) through the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, droopy eyelids, and dark circles; the latter (lip) through the appearance of those “smoker’s lines,” bleeding lipstick, loss of volume and sometimes even loss of color. We focus a lot on the eye contour, so I thought it might be interesting to focus on the lips and lip contour for once.
First, a review of vocabulary:
- The vermillion border is where the lips (upper and lower) meet the surrounding skin of the mouth
- The vermillion border of the upper lip is often referred to as Cupid’s bow (given its shape)
Second, an anatomy lesson:
- The skin of the lips is much thinner than any other skin on our body, containing many fewer layers
- Because it is so thin, the underlying blood vessels are highly visible, which is what gives lips their pinkish or reddish color (this effect is less pronounced on darker skin types)
- The skin of the lips contains fewer melanocytes (cells that produce pigment) than the rest of our skin (again, this is less true of darker skin types, that contain more melanocytes overall as compared to lighter skin types)
- There are no hair follicles on the skin of the lips (gross!)
- There are no sweat glands on the skin of the lips (re-gross!)
- There are no sebaceaous glands on the skin of the lips (ok, stopping with the gross now)
- As we all know, the skin of the lips is very rich in nerve endings however…
Because of all of these differences (fewer layers, no protection via sweat or oils), the skin of the lips dries out faster.
The skin of the lip contour, however, is not that different from the rest of our facial skin. To answer the question that prompted this exploration, however, it is quite different from the skin of the eye contour (which is much thinner). While using an eye contour cream in the lip contour certainly will do no harm, it is not that different from using your anti-aging facial moisturizer on your lip contour.
In terms of protecting and enhancing lips and the lip contour area, here are a few of my father’s (dermatologist Dr. Polla) favorite tips:
- Avoid smoker’s lines by not smoking
- Don’t drink with a straw: did you ever notice the shape your moth takes when you drink with a straw? Very comparable to the shape you make when you smoke… (the same thing could be said, although to a lesser extent, about to-go cups with lids)
- If need be, don’t hesitate to turn to electrolysis or laser hair removal (rather than plucking any pesky hairs in the lip contour area)
- When need be, given the potential appearance of the vertical lines in this area, do go to your dermatologist to explore the option of filling in these lines
- Exfoliate your lips with your facial scrub, as you do the rest of your face
- Protect your lips with an SPF during the day, as you do the rest of your face
- Don’t lick your lips repeatedly, as this will dry them out
- Don’t believe the myth that is you use lip balm regularly, your lips will end up drier than if you didn’t
- When need be, given the usual loss of volume with age, do go to your dermatologist to explore the option of adding volume back with fillers
- Do not go overboard with fillers and end up with “duck lips”
And, as my Mom always said and continues to believe, when all else fails (bad hair day, bad heart day, overall bad day), wear bright red lipstick. My current favorite: Cruella by NARS.
About the Author:
In 2004, daughter and co-creator of Alchimie Forever, Ada Polla set out to launch her family’s Swiss based skincare line in the US. Seven successful years later, the brand boasts global visibility and distribution. Her focus and determination has yielded double-digit annual growth and garnered her several press-worthy opportunities to communicate her family’s knowledge and passion for the science of anti-aging skincare. Securing partnerships with exclusive spas, specialty boutiques and a global collective of cosmetic dermatologists, Ada continues to share her family’s philosophy that healthy skin can be achieved using effective products and promises that even though Alchimie Forever is growing, they are still dedicated to providing consumers with a personal touch in every experience that they call the Forever Commitment.