Have your lips become dark and discolored? Smoking is a common cause of dark lips. Dry, sun-damaged lips too can look dull and dark. You may even notice dark spots on your lips, which are usually just lip freckles. Protecting your lips from the sun as well as using skin-lightening agents can fade them. But before you start with home remedies, quit smoking if you do smoke. Also rule out conditions like:
- Melasma: a skin disorder with dark, usually symmetrical patches of skin develop on the forehead, nose, cheeks, or upper lip1
- Acanthosis nigricans: a skin disorder with dark velvety patches of skin on your neck, armpits, groin, lips, and palms2
- Peutz-Jeghers syndrome: a genetic disorder that causes small black-brown spots on your lips, gums, and inside your mouth3
While your doctor may advise laser treatment to lighten your lip color, here are some cost-effective natural remedies that can do so with no side effects.4
1. Use Sunscreen For Lips
You might already be using a sunscreen on your face, but did you know that your lips need protection from the sun too? Sun exposure can not only darken skin but also damage it and make you vulnerable to cancer. Apply a sunscreen meant for the lips with a minimum SPF of 15.5 Use this the whole year round, and take care to reapply sunscreen if you’re out in the sun.
2. Exfoliate With Sugar
Dry dead skin can make your lips look dull and dark. Exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin cells from your lips. You can use sugar to make an effective scrub.
What To Do
Mix a teaspoon of olive oil with a teaspoon of brown or regular sugar to make a coarse paste. Wet your lips and apply this scrub. Gently rub the scrub over your lips and let it sit for around 5 minutes. Rinse off with water and seal in the moisture with a lip balm.6
3. Hydrate With Honey
Honey is a powerful humectant, that is, it can draw moisture to the surface of your lips.7 8 But that’s not all, honey also has healing properties. It helps repair wounds and promotes healing in sunburns. So, if you have sun damaged or chapped and split lips, honey can be helpful.
What To Do
Wet your lips and apply a layer of honey. Leave the honey on overnight and remember to seal in the moisture with a lip balm for hydrated pink lips. A beeswax lip balm will get the job done.
4. Protect With Beeswax
Beeswax is a waxy substance produced by bees that’s used in the construction of their hives. It can form a protective cover on your skin and prevent moisture loss. It has also been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.9
What To Do
Microwave ¼ of a cup of beeswax and ¼ of a cup of avocado butter at 30-second intervals till they melt together. Pour it into a clean container and use as a lip balm.10
5. Try Natural Skin Lighteners
A pigment known as melanin present in our skin is responsible for our skin color. Our lips naturally contain less melanin, but if you’re troubled by hyperpigmentation, skin-lightening agents can help reduce melanin levels and lighten your skin. You can try these:
Turmeric has been traditionally used to lighten skin in Southeast Asia. According to research, curcumin, a component found in turmeric can inhibit the production of melanin.11 You can use this powerful spice to lighten dark lips but do keep in mind that turmeric can temporarily stain your lips yellow.
What To Do
Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric into 1 tablespoon of creamy milk to make a paste. Apply this to your lips and leave it in for about 5 minutes. Rinse off and exfoliate with a little sugar. Finish off by applying a protective lip balm.12
If you thought that avocados were only good for making dips, you’d be wrong. They can help reduce hyperpigmentation of the skin too. Glutathione, an antioxidant present in avocados, can reduce melanin levels by inhibiting tyrosinase, the enzyme involved in melanin production.13
What To Do
Mash up some avocado pulp. Apply it to your lips and let this creamy fruit work on your skin.
Lemon juice is commonly used to lighten skin. It is considered to be an effective bleaching agent. It also contains vitamin C which has been found to inhibit melanin formation.14
What To Do
Mix a teaspoon each of lemon juice, honey, and glycerin. Apply this to your lips daily for about a week and you should find an improvement in your lip color.15
- Soy Milk
Proteins present in soybeans (Bowman Birk inhibitor and soybean trypsin inhibitor) have been found to effect depigmentation of skin by interfering with the process of melanin transfer.16
What To Do
Pasteurized soy milk doesn’t have a depigmenting effect. So, apply fresh soy milk to your lips to lighten skin.17
|↑1||Melasma. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑2||Acanthosis nigricans. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑3||Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑4, ↑12, ↑15||Fitzgerald, Maggie. The A-Z of Natural Skin Care: Take Care Of Your Skin Using Natural, Herbal, Chemical-Free Homemade Treatments. LiveNatural Press, 2014.|
|↑5||Lundeen, R. Curtis, Robert P. Langlais, and Geza T. Terezhalmy. “Sunscreen protection for lip mucosa: a review and update.” The Journal of the American Dental Association 111, no. 4 (1985): 617-621.|
|↑6||Fitzgerald, Maggie. The A-Z of Natural Skin Care: Take Care Of Your Skin Using Natural, Herbal, Chemical-Free Homemade Treatments. Live Natural Press, 2014.|
|↑7||Moisturizers: Do they work? Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑8||Honey. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑9||Beeswax. NC Cooperative Extension.|
|↑10||Ferroni, Lara. An Avocado a Day: More than 70 Recipes for Enjoying Nature’s Most Delicious Superfood. Sasquatch Books, 2017.|
|↑11||Tu, Cai‐Xia, Mao Lin, Shan‐Shan Lu, Xiao‐Yi Qi, Rong‐Xin Zhang, and Yun‐Ying Zhang. “Curcumin inhibits melanogenesis in human melanocytes.” Phytotherapy Research 26, no. 2 (2012): 174-179.|
|↑13||Sonthalia, Sidharth, Deepashree Daulatabad, and Rashmi Sarkar. “Glutathione as a skin whitening agent: Facts, myths, evidence and controversies.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology 82, no. 3 (2016): 262.|
|↑14||Huh, C-H., K-I. Seo, J-Y. Park, J-G. Lim, H-C. Eun, and K-C. Park. “A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of vitamin C iontophoresis in melasma.” Dermatology 206, no. 4 (2003): 316-320.|
|↑16||Paine, Christine, Elizabeth Sharlow, Frank Liebel, Magdalena Eisinger, Stanley Shapiro, and Miri Seiberg. “An alternative approach to depigmentation by soybean extracts via inhibition of the PAR-2 pathway.” Journal of investigative dermatology 116, no. 4 (2001): 587-595.|
|↑17||Parvez, Shoukat, Moonkyu Kang, Hwan‐Suck Chung, Chongwoon Cho, Moo‐Chang Hong, Min‐Kyu Shin, and Hyunsu Bae. “Survey and mechanism of skin depigmenting and lightening agents.” Phytotherapy Research 20, no. 11 (2006): 921-934.|