The color of the skin on the lips differs from person to person, and no shade is healthier or superior to the others. However, sometimes, the color of your lips may indicate that they need more attention.
Some people develop discoloration on the lips. This discoloration or pigmentation can be the result of medical as well as certain lifestyle factors. In this article, you will learn about the causes of dark lips and how you can lighten them naturally.
Table Of Contents
What Causes Dark Lips?
Dark lips may be a result of the following factors:
- Increased exposure to the sun can increase the melanin production in your skin, thereby causing pigmentation.
- Excessive smoking can cause a type of pigmentation known as a smoker’s melanosis (1).
- An allergic response to certain products like toothpaste, lipstick, etc. may also cause hyperpigmentation in your lips.
- Medical therapies for conditions, such as Laugier-Hunziker syndrome and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, and posttraumatic pigmentation can affect your lips and cause them to look dark (2).
Natural Remedies To Lighten Dark Lips
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has emollient and moisturizing properties (3). These properties can help keep your lips soft and supple and prevent them from getting dry and darker, which usually happens with skin dehydration.
What You Can Do: Take a little virgin coconut oil onto your index finger and apply it to your lips. Leave it on to dry. You may do this 1-2 times daily.
2. Lemon And Honey
Citrus fruits like lemons are known for their skin lightening properties (4). When combined with honey, lemons can not only lighten your lips but also help soften them.
What You Can Do: Take a teaspoon each of lemon juice and honey. Mix well and apply it to your lips. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes and rinse with water. You may do this once daily.
Note: Lemon juice can cause a stinging sensation on your skin. Please do a patch test before trying this remedy.
3. Aloe Vera
What You Can Do: Take half a teaspoon of freshly extracted aloe vera gel and apply it to your lips. Rinse with plain water. You may do this 1-2 times daily.
4. Cucumber Juice
What You Can Do: Take a few slices of cucumber and grind them. Apply the paste to your lips and leave it on for 15-20 minutes. Rinse with water. You may do this 1-2 times daily.
What You Can Do: Prepare a thick paste by mixing a teaspoon of turmeric powder with a little water. Apply this paste to your lips and allow it to dry. Rinse with water. You can do this once daily.
Note: Turmeric can cause an allergic reaction to skin contact in some people. It can cause an outbreak of rashes on your skin if you are allergic to it. Hence, do a patch test before you proceed with this remedy.
6. Sesame Oil
What You Can Do: Apply sesame oil on your lips and leave it on until it dries. You may reapply the oil as necessary. You can do this 2-3 times daily.
Note: Sesame oil can cause an allergic reaction upon skin contact in some people. Hence, do a patch test.
What You Can Do: Take a teaspoon of pomegranate powder and make a paste using water. Apply this paste to your lips and leave it to dry. Rinse off with plain water. You may do this 1-2 times daily for best results.
Note: Pomegranate powder can cause an allergic reaction like skin irritation and rashes in some people. Hence, do a patch test.
Treatment For Dark Lips
- The common treatment options for dark lips include the use of lasers (10). Laser treatment does not have severe side effects.
- Chemical treatments may also be used to lighten dark lips. They often involve the use of hydroquinone and kojic acid that can inhibit the tyrosinase enzyme (11).
- Certain treatments also work by inhibiting the production of melanin. But most of them may cause adverse side effects (increased sun sensitivity, flaking skin, or an uneven skin tone).
- Exfoliate your lips regularly.
- Drink plenty of fluids daily to stay hydrated.
- Use a lip balm with SPF 40 or above.
- Do not use low-quality lip cosmetics.
- Avoid using products you are allergic to.
- Avoid sucking on your lips constantly as it makes them very dry.
These tips, along with the remedies, may help lighten your lips. However, talk to your doctor before using any of these remedies so that they can also treat the underlying cause of the darker lips.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Which is the best lip balm to make your lips pink?
You can use lip balms with skin lightening agents. You may also use any lip balm with SPF 40 or above to prevent your lips from darkening further.
Does toothpaste make your lips pink?
Toothpaste may help lighten your lips to a small extent, but if left on overnight, it can burn your lips and cause scarring.
Does lip scrub lighten lips?
Using natural lip scrubs like beetroot, lemon, and honey scrub, or sugar scrub can help gradually lighten your lips.
Why are my lips turning dark even though I don’t smoke?
Smoking is one of the many factors that may contribute to darkening lips. Other factors can include increased exposure to the sun, lack of hydration, an allergic response to products like toothpaste, lipstick, etc., and treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.
Why are my lips dark around the edges?
One of the primary triggers of dark lips around the edges is hyperpigmentation. This can be caused by increased sun exposure or even an inflammatory skin condition.
Can I use petroleum jelly to lighten my lips?
There is no scientific claim confirming that petroleum jelly lightens lips, but you can use it to moisturize your lips and keep them supple.
- Epidemiologic study of excessive oral melanin pigmentation with special reference to the influence of tobacco habits. Scandinavian Journal of Dental Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Oral pigmentation: A review, Journal of Pharmacy and BioAllied Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- In vitro anti-inflammatory and skin protective properties of Virgin coconut oil, Journal Of Traditional And Complementary Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Citrus Flavonoids with Skin Lightening Effects – Safety and Efficacy Studies, International Journal for Applied Science, ResearchGate.
- On the novel action of melanolysis by a leaf extract of Aloe vera and its active ingredient aloin, potent skin depigmenting agents. Planta Medica, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Invigorating Efficacy of Cucumis Sativas for Healthcare & Radiance, International Journal of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharma Research Library.
- Curcumin inhibits melanogenesis in human melanocytes. Phytotherapy Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Sesamol decreases melanin biosynthesis in melanocyte cells and zebrafish: Possible involvement of MITF via the intracellular cAMP and p38/JNK signalling pathways, Experimental Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Inhibitory Effect of Dried Pomegranate Concentration Powder on Melanogenesis in B16F10 Melanoma Cells; Involvement of p38 and PKA Signaling Pathways, International Journal Of Molecular Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- An effective treatment of dark lip by frequency-doubled Q-switched Nd:YAG laser, Dermatologic Surgery, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- TOPICAL TREATMENT OF MELASMA, Indian Journal of Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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