How To Lighten A Darkened Upper Lip

Medically reviewed by Dr. Hari Hara Sudhan, MD, Dermatologist
by Anjali Sayee

Healthy and hydrated lips look soft, plump, and rosy. However, our lifestyle habits, excessive use of cosmetics, and medical conditions can affect our lips and turn them dark, especially the upper lip. However, do not worry. If you have a dark upper lip, there are ways to improve its appearance and keep it healthy.

Scroll down to find out the reasons for your dark upper lip and home remedies to lighten it.

What Causes Dark Lips?

  • Hyperpigmentation: This is a common cause of dark lips. Hyperpigmentation of the lips can be caused by excessive UV exposure, physiological changes, geno dermatoses (a genetic condition), inflammatory diseases, endocrinologic disorders, use of drugs and chemicals, benign and malignant neoplasm (abnormal mass of tissue), and other non-melanotic conditions (1).
  • Smoking: This is a common cause of a darkened upper lip. A study indicated that almost all smokers had lip pigmentation issues and dark lips (2).
  • Sun Exposure: UV ray exposure increases the melanin in the skin (including the lips), causing pigmentation (3).
  • Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions like vitamin deficiencies and anemia may cause dark lips. Using antibiotics like minocycline and chemotherapeutic agents may cause lip pigmentation (4). Disorders like Addison’s disease (adrenal gland disorder), melasma, and Laugier-Hunziker syndrome may also cause dark lips (5), (6).
  • Other Factors: Factors like dehydration or consuming excessive amounts of caffeine, allergic reaction to cosmetic and personal care products may also turn the lips dark.

Lightening your lips might not be as difficult as you may think. Here are some tips to help.

How To Lighten Dark Lips

  1. Moisturization: Apply vitamin E oil and top it with a layer of petroleum jelly to lock in moisture. Always carry a lip balm to hydrate your lips whenever they feel chapped or dry.
  1. SPF Protection: Use sunblock to protect the delicate skin on your lips from UV exposure and pigmentation. Use lip balms with SPF for sun protection.
  1. Healthy Diet: Consume green vegetables and fruits to keep your lips hydrated and supple.
  1. Stay Hydrated: Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day to keep your lips hydrated and smooth.
  1. Lifestyle Changes: Reduce caffeine and nicotine intake. Reduce your intake of coffee and tea, and quit smoking.
  1. Medical Treatments: Some treatments like chemical peels and skin bleaches might help reduce lip pigmentation. Hydroquinone creams, kojic acid, and topical retinoids can also improve lip pigmentation (6). However, do not use any topical cream and ointments without consulting the dermatologist.

You can also try making DIY lip balms with the natural ingredients from the table below (7).

BaseOilsColoring AgentFlavoring Agent
Cocoa ButterCoconut OilBeetrootStrawberry
BeeswaxOlive  OilPomegranateHoney
Shea WaxAlmond  OilMarigoldOrange
Shea ButterVitamin E OilTomatoSaffron
White BeeswaxPeanut OilJabulRaspberry
Yellow BeeswaxTea Tree OilWatermelonVanilla
Carnauba WaxGlycerinHoneyMango
Candelilla WaxCastor OilSaffronRose Oil
Mango ButterJojoba OilTurmericSandalwood
Avocado ButterCorn OilCapsicumJasmine
Olive WaxArachis OilCherryCherry
Jojoba WaxLemon OilOrangeApple
Olive ButterAvocado OilStrawberryLemon
Sweet AlmondSesame OilMangoApricot
Sweet Almond WaxGrapeseed OilCarrotRosemary
 Raspberry ButterSunflower OilLemonPineapple

Other than these methods, you may also try these natural remedies to manage lip pigmentation. 

How To Make Natural Lip Lighteners: 12 Easy DIY Recipes

1. Sugar Lip Scrub

What You Need

  • A slice of lime
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

How To Use

  1. Dip the lime slice into the sugar.
  2. Rub it on your lips.
  3. Alternatively, mix lime juice and sugar and apply the scrub to your lips.
  4. Gently massage your lips for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Wash off with water.
  6. Use the scrub twice a week.

Why This Works

Sugar granules work as a natural exfoliator and remove dead skin cells. Lime juice is a natural bleaching agent that minimizes lip pigmentation (6).

2. Turmeric Lip Mask

What You Need

  • 1 tablespoon of tomato juice
  • ½ tablespoon of lime juice
  • ½ tablespoon of turmeric powder

How To Use

  1. Mix all the ingredients to form a smooth paste.
  2. Apply the paste to your upper lip.
  3. Leave it on for 20 minutes. Rinse it off with cold water.
  4. Use the lip mask 2-3 times a week.

Why This Works

Turmeric contains curcumin that balances melanin production (8). Lime and tomato juice may have a bleaching effect on the lips and improve their appearance.

3. Lime Juice And Honey

What You Need

  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of lime juice

How To Use

  1. Mix both the ingredients and apply the mixture to your lips.
  2. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Wash off and apply a lip balm.
  4. Use this once daily.

Why This Works

Applying lime juice improves the appearance of darkened lips (6). Honey is an excellent emollient and helps moisturize the lips (9).

4. Carrot Juice

What You Need

  • 2-3 tablespoons of carrot juice
  • Cotton pads

How To Use

  1. Soak a cotton pad in the carrot juice.
  2. Gently dab it on the upper lip for two to three minutes.
  3. Leave it on for 20-30 minutes and wash off.
  4. Use it once every day.

Why This Works

Carrots are used in lipsticks as they contain lycopene that gives an orangish hue to your lips (10).

5. Cocoa Butter

What You Need

  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa butter
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

How To Use

  1. Mix the cocoa butter and olive oil.
  2. Apply it on your lips and massage for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Leave it overnight and wash it off the next morning.
  4. Use it twice every day.

Why It Works

Cocoa butter has antioxidant properties that soften the lips. Olive oil can help improve the appearance of pigmented (6).

6. Pomegranate Rind

What You Need

  • 1 teaspoon of pomegranate rind powder
  • 1 teaspoon of rosewater

How To Use

  1. Mix the ingredients and massage your lips with the blend.
  2. Leave it on for 30 minutes or overnight.
  3. Wash it off the next day and apply a lip balm.

Why It Works

Pomegranate extracts might inhibit melanin production and reduce lip pigmentation (11). Rose water helps to soothe your lips.

7. Potato Juice

What You Need

  • 1 tablespoon of potato juice
  • 1 cotton ball

How To Use

  1. Dip a cotton ball in the potato juice.
  2. Apply the juice to your upper lip or both lips.
  3. Leave it on overnight and wash it off the next morning.
  4. Use it 2-3 times a week.

Why This Works

Anecdotal evidence suggests that potato juice is effective for improving dark circles, pigmentation, and premature aging.

8. Honey And Rose Petals

What You Need

  • 4-5red rose petals
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

How To Use

  1. Crush the rose petals to form a paste and mix it with honey.
  2. Apply the mixture to your upper lip.
  3. Leave it on overnight and wash it off the next morning.
  4. Use it every day.

Why This Works

Rose petals are used extensively in the cosmetic industry, especially in lip balms and related products. Crushed rose petals give a reddish hue to the lips, and honey keeps them moisturized(6).

9. Glycerin

What You Need

  • Glycerin
  • Cotton pad

How To Use

  1. Apply the glycerin to your lips with the cotton pad.
  2. Leave it on overnight and wash it off the next morning.
  3. Use it every night.

Why This Works

Glycerin is an effective moisturizing agent used in many skin care products (12). It may help keep the lips soft and moisturized and reduce discoloration caused by dryness.

10. Beetroot

What You Need

  • Beetroot juice
  • Cotton pads

How To Use

  1. Apply the beetroot juice to your lips with the cotton ball.
  2. Leave it on overnight.
  3. Rinse it off the next morning.
  4. Use it daily or 2-3 times a week.

Why This Works

Beetroot juice is often used as a natural dye and adds a reddish hue to the lips.

11. Orange Peels

What You Need

  • 1 tablespoon of dried orange peel powder
  • 1 tablespoon of curd

How To Use

  1. Mix both the ingredients and apply the mixture to your lips.
  2. Leave it on for 30 minutes.
  3. Use it 2-3 times a week.

Why This Works

Orange peels contain beta carotene that gives them a reddish-orange shade. It has antioxidant properties that prevent skin damage (13). Curd is used in traditional recipes for its moisturizing properties.

You may try these natural remedies to reduce lip pigmentation. However, there are some basic dos and don’ts you should follow to maintain your natural lip color.

The Dos And Don’ts To Avoid Darkening Of Lips

1. Follow A Healthy Diet

  • Consume water-rich vegetables and fruits like melons, cucumber, and green leafy veggies to keep your body and lips hydrated.
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages to prevent your lips from becoming dry and dark.

2. Lifestyle Changes

  • Always carry a water bottle to stay hydrated on the go.
  • Remove your makeup and lipstick before sleeping. The product residue may contain chemicals that can darken your lips.
  • Avoid smoking to prevent lip
  • Fluoride in toothpaste may cause allergic reactions and dermatitis (14). Avoid using fluoride toothpaste as they may affect your lips and darken them.

3. Cosmetic Products

  • Use cosmetics that suit your skin. Go for trusted brands and vegan and organic products.
  • Avoid using cheap lipsticks with harmful chemicals. Check the ingredients Avoid products with artificial fragrances, parabens, drying alcohols, and PEGs.

To Conclude

Dark lips may result from hyperpigmentation caused by multiple factors. Unless it is due to an underlying condition or genetics, a little bit of TLC can improve their appearance. Follow the remedies shared in the article to keep your lips soft and supple and restore their natural color.

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Anjali Sayee

Anjali Sayee is a writer and an introvert. From studying Aeronautical Engineering and wanting to design her own airplane to writing articles on hairstyles, she has been on quite a journey. She believes that hair is one of the key factors that define a woman’s personality. To quote her, “What’s the first thing they do in the movies to show a personality change? Change the hair – because it has a life of its own.” She’s here to help you find the hairstyle you need. This bookworm is a self-professed Wholocker, a talented drummer, and an amateur photographer.
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