File this to the “under the radar” category: lip cancer is a frequent and overlooked site for skin cancer. What’s more, lip cancer occurs most frequently in Caucasian men over the age of 45. Studies have shown that males are 3-13 times more likely to develop lip cancers compared to women, mostly due to higher recreational sun exposure combined with greater tobacco and alcohol use. Not only can lip cancer strike, but lip aging is also caused by cumulative sun damage. The result? Thin, pale lips that look like moist leather (not exactly what your significant other hand in mind).
Protecting your lips from the sun is the number one priority, with locking in moisture, preventing sun-induced dryness, and preserving the integrity of the skin cells as second priority. The key is to look at the ingredients on the lip balm as well as determine what medium it is (stick vs. ointment vs. cream). What’s you know this, the best choice can be made for the given scenario.
Vorteil recommends that all men wear lip balm with an SPF of 15 or greater on a daily basis. It turns out UV-A rays penetrate rain and clouds, so you want to use a few swipes even if it isn’t sunny out. Make sure you coat the bottom lip heavily: the lower lip receives direct sun exposure and is twelve times more likely than the upper lip to develop a skin cancer. In addition, since UV rays are known to flare the virus that causes fever blisters/cold sores, you will be preventing that as well. Go with a stick lip balm with the ingredient Avobenzone (for weekdays) or zinc oxide (especially for running or swimming outside) in it. Try to stay away with any product containing oxybenzone, as it is a frequent cause of allergic reactions.
Before bedtime, look for a simple ointment based lip balm without sunscreen. The ointment will prevent water from evaporating from the skin of your lips much more effectively than a stick or cream balm. Vorteil recommends Aquaphor ointment, which is non-flavored, readily available, and petrolatum based.
Vorteil’s Bottom Line: Use a lip balm containing sunscreen daily to protect your lips from cancer and aging.
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