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A guide to tackling lip pigmentation or dark lips

How can one work to tackle this small, but significantly sensitive issue of dark lips or lip pigmentation? We got you all the solutions from experts.  

Lips darkening over time is a common problem among women, especially Indian women. We did already talk about hyperpigmentation and why it’s rampart in the country considering our erratic weather and other environmental factors. Hyperpigmentation in skin is a skin condition that people of colour do face very often and is caused by excess melanin production. In the same way, pigmented lips are caused by many reasons – from sun exposure to using the wrong lip products to lack of hydration. Add to that, they can also be a result of smoking, allergies, pregnancy or even excessive consumption of caffeine. And sometimes, it just boils down to genetics and habits where lips are constantly dry or chapped. 

“Pigmentation on lips is just like pigmentation on skin and is usually caused due to excessive sun exposure. Regular exfoliation at home, twice a week is good and using an ultra-nourishing and Vitamin C enriched lip balm really helps. It’s best to use a lip balm and scrub are enriched with ingredients that help fade away the discoloration and reveal smoother, softer lips,” explains Megha Asher, Co-founder of Juicy Chemistry.  The label has been retailing a rich Blood Orange & Rosehip Organic Lip Scrub (Rs 350) created specially for pigmented lips that contains Rosehip oil, an important antioxidant that nourishes the lips while blood orange helps exfoliate and uplift the mood.

Cinner is half Scrub + half Balm

Scrubbing lips regularly does not change your lips overnight, but it helps remove the grime, the dry skin and keeps them hydrated and smooth. Other scrubs in the market that do a great job in making sure your lips are moisturised and nourished are ENN Cinner Lip Plumping Scrub + Balm (Rs 600), Physicians Formula Organic Wear Organic Rose Oil Lip Polish (Rs 850), Pixi Beauty Nourishing Lip Polish ( Rs 1,210), Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Smoothing Sugar Scrub (Rs 2,100) and Kiko Milano Lip Scrub (Rs 690). 

“It’s also inflammation in the gut that can cause discoloration of the lips and tongue,” adds dermatologist Kiran Lohia of Isyaderm. “So look at improving your gut health by removing dairy, sugar, high glycemic foods, processed foods and non-organic items,” she adds. 

Jamuna Pai, renowned dermatologist has an easier solution. “After brushing your teeth, which would take approximately two minutes, the bristles and lips would get softer, use the wet bristles and rub your lips in a circular motion. You’ll feel that they becomes soft and nice after washing it. Then use a thick coat of lip balm to hydrate. Do this atleast 2 to 3 times in a week and you’ll see that you have softer and pinker lips,” she adds. A few interesting lip balms to look at: RAS Oils Oh So Liquid Lip Balm (Rs 690) that contains almond oil and moringa while the Omorfee Lip Lightening Salve Stick ( Rs 599) that comes with beetroot and rose extracts to give your lips that extra, gorgeous, pink tint. 

Of course, then comes basic hygiene and according to popular dermatologist Dr.Kiran Lohia of Isyaderm, there are basic rules one should follow. 

  1. Do not lick, rub or smack your lips. Repetitive friction makes them dry and dark. 
  2. Certain chemicals in lipsticks may also cause rashes and pigmentation so it’s good to know the ingredients and work with natural lipsticks. 
  3. Look for lip balms with SPF or even dab a bit of sunscreen on your lips. 
  4. Do consider lasers like Picosure to erase lip pigmentation, if it gets serious. 
  5. Looking for products with Retinol, Kojic Acid and AHAs does help. 

Lip treatments do work as do lip masks to make sure your lips stay healthy and happy. The Forest Essentials Lip Cream ( Rs 675) is a replenishing lip treatment cream that comes with ingredients like Shea Butter to nourish and pomegranate juice to soften. The very popular Laneige lip masks (Rs 1150) are a leave-on lip mask that soothes and moisturises and are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C to protect your lips and gently exfoliate dry flakes. Apart from their berry flavour, we are loving their new variants, the Vanilla, Grapefruit and Apple Lime. You can apply and go to sleep and wake up to hydrated lips. 

Apart from the regular care, one needs to look at home remedies for lip care too. A small paste made of turmeric and milk on alternate days does help as does application of aloe vera gel. A home-made honey and sugar scrub works wonders while a simple yoghurt exfoliation does make them lighten if done regularly. Some people use just lime slices to rib on the lips while others believe that rubbing an ice cube can provide relief for a bit. The best tip however is to rub strawberries on to your lips to scrub, exfoliate and to nourish.

Latha Sunadh
Deputy Editor
When she's not trying on a new serum, researching on yet another classic fragrance and sharing lip balms with her 5-year old daughter, Latha Sunadh keeps it reined in with a nice song and a good book. Special skills include obsessing over handmade, home-made and handcrafted luxuries.