Lip cosmetics have been used since ancient times – Eyptians, Greeks,  and Romans all used lip adornments. The push up lipstick found in every womans’s purse was invented in the 1920’s. Since the 1990s, lip augmentation with fillers has been a very popular treatment, and now Restylane is FDA approved for lip augmentation. We thought the month of Valentine’s Day would be a great time to review lip cosmetics, care and enhancement.

Lip care:

Winter time is terrible on the lips, and chapped lips are almost a given in cold, dry, windy weather. Apply a thick lip balm or cream frequently and before any outdoor activity. Plain Vaseline (or white petrolatum) or Aquaphor are great choices for severely dry lips. A thicker product that is also great to protect skin from exposure during outside sports is Theraplex emollient. The wax added to this product helps it last longer on the surface and is very protective. Some our favorite lip products are Avene lip cream and Avene lip balm which contain soothing emollients as well as the healing Avene spring water and sucralfate to promote healing of lips. Avoid lip balms and ointments that contain mint, menthol or other flavorings as they are more likely to cause an irritant or allergic reaction.


Cosmetic lip products contain colors in formulation containing waxes and oils. Waxes are used to adhere the lip color to the lip. The oils of a lipstick provide moisturization and are necessary for the dispersion of the color.

Long-wearing lipsticks use indelible coloring agents to stain the lip. The most commonly used indelible coloring agent is acid eosin, also known as bromo acid or D&C Red No. 21, which turns red on the lips. Thus all long-wearing lipsticks have a red color. The biggest problem with long-wearing lipsticks is they cause dryness and cracks and they should not be used in persons with dry lips.

Lip gloss is different than lip balm or lipstick because it does not contain waxes, but only oils and dimethicone. Lip gloss is most popular among teens who may use lip gloss as their first cosmetic. It adds shine to the lips, but not necessarily moisturization. Lip gloss migrates rapidly off the lip and is not a good choice in wrinkled lips. Additionally some of the oils may clog pores around the lip area.

A new, popular lip cosmetic is the film-forming polymer lipsticks. The polymer dries to a hard, pigmented film on the lips that stays on until they are rubbed or peeled off. These “long-last” or “all-day” lipsticks are extremely drying so many are also sold with a lip gloss to add shine and moisture. These lipsticks can be used to outline lips to look larger than actual size. The drying effect of these lipsticks can make them difficult to use.

Lipstick can be a cause of allergic contact dermatitis. The most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis in lipstick is castor oil. Castor oil is found in all lipsticks. It is used to dissolve bromo acid dyes; however, the bromo acid dye eosin (D&C Red No. 21) also is a cause of allergic reaction. A polymer lipstick is an excellent alternative as these products do not contain oils.

Lip Enhancement:

Hyaluronic acid fillers – such as Restylane, Perlane and Juvederm – are great choices to enhance the size and shape of the lip. The outcome is very natural and pretty when done well.  When I enhance lips, I focus on the shape of the ideal lip which has a natural “cupid’s bow” in the middle of the upper lip and fullness in the middle of the lips with the lower lip slightly more full than the upper, and the upper lip having a slight roll or upturn at the edge (like a ski jump when viewed from the side). I also focus on comfort and we use gentle dental blocks in most enhancement procedures to ensure a pain free treatment.

You can watch a video of the process at our you tube site:

I hope you enjoyed this discussion of very common lip care products. Get your lips in great, “kissable” condition for Valentine’s Day!

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