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December 2005 - January 2006



by Shashi Gossain B.Sc (Hons), MRPS, Member

Lips are made of two strips of muscle tissue covered by epidermal cells. They have no lubricating sebaceous glands, no protective melanin and no sebaceous fat to cushion them and hence need extra care to protect against wind, cold, sun and heat.

Lip care
Saliva dries parched lips and so you should avoid licking the lips since it can aggravate more discomfort. Use soothing lip creams and balms for dry lips.

Lip balm usually comes in a stick or in a small pot and is petroleum based, which forms a protective barrier over the lips. Some lip balms contain vitamins, UV sunscreen, tints, glosses and extra moisturisers. You need to re-apply the lip creams quite often during the day since it wears off very quickly.

Lipstick, even those that claim to be extra moisturising are no substitute to balms since they do not have a high enough percentage of the emollient, so lip balm should be applied underneath the lipstick for very dry or chapped lips.

‘Long lasting’ lipsticks are based on silicon which has a higher staying power on the lips but does dry out the lips. Lip balm should be applied underneath these types of lipsticks.

Cold winds, central heating, dry air and other environmental factors drain your skin and lips of moisture, and hence during winter you should keep them well moisturised.

In the summer, the Sun can also dry out the skin and lips and since there is no protective melanin the UVA light can cause drying and furrowing of the skin around the lips. This can be minimised by using sunscreen lip balms.

Some lip balms contain Camphor, Menthol and Beeswax which give the lips a cool tingling feeling that not only moisturise the lips but also has a soothing effect on particularly dry lips.

Cold sores
Cold sores are caused by Herpes simplex which can lay dormant in ones body once infected. Cold sores start with an initial “tingle” followed by the formation of a blister on the lips which secretes a yellow fluid which in turn forms a scab. These can be quite painful and unsightly.

If you have been infected by the virus, avoid close contact as this is particularly contagious. The virus is easily triggered by factors, e.g. sun, wind, stress etc.

There is no real cure for the cold sore virus, but aciclovir can stop an attack if applied early enough.

Apply lipstick using a small lip brush for greater coverage. Fill your upper lip first moving your brush downwards and blot out the extra using a tissue. Use a lipstick sealer to stop the colour bleeding away from the lip line.

Sheer lipsticks have a greater percentage of oils and waxes than colour pigment, giving a subtle sheen.

Matte lipsticks have a good colour, giving a bold finish.

Glossy lipsticks have a low staying power but have a more dramatic effect.

Pearl lipsticks contain iridescent molecules which fuse together, giving contrasting shades e.g. white and blue etc.

Treatment lipsticks contain menthol and dimethicone in a colour balm, which are applied to dry and chapped lips to ease the discomfort.

Long lasting lipsticks contain silicon which evaporates on contact with air. The colour pigments in this formula are particularly strong and matte and once the silicon evaporates, the colour pigments firmly adhere to the lips. Although this lasts all day the accompanying dryness can be quite uncomfortable.

Because the lip area is very delicate, choose a gentle moisturising cream cleanser to take off the lipstick. With a cotton wool ball, gently wipe each lip in turn, using a downward stroke for the upper lip and an upward stroke for the lower lip.

This ensures that you won’t induce fine lines and wrinkles by pulling the skin in different directions.

Keep Smiling - it’s your biggest asset.

More Health

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