By Allison Avery
Updated: June 03, 2008

You probably know you should wear sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 every day to prevent wrinkle-causing sun damage and protect yourself from skin cancer. But did you know your lips are also vulnerable to sun damage? Theyre actually more susceptible to premature aging and cancer than the rest of your skin. “When skin cancer occurs on the lower lip it has the potential to be much more aggressive and metastasize to surrounding lymph nodes,” says Christine Brown, MD, a dermatologist on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Even more alarming is that less than one in four people are protecting their lips properly, according to a recent study.

Get more lip protection by applying a lip balm or a 30 SPF lip sunscreen every morning under your usual lipstick or gloss. Lip gloss alone is a big no-no, Dr. Brown says. “Youre actually increasing light penetration through the lip surface by applying something clear and shiny to them.” When to worry? See your dermatologist right away if you notice an area of your lips turning white or opaque, or if you have persistent peeling or flaking in one spot thats not helped by lip balm.

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