Why lip sunscreen is so important!

I am trying to find a good sunscreen for lips, preferably with zinc. Any suggestions? Thank you

This is great. I’ve seen at least 4 patients in the last two weeks with problems on the lips with precancerous spots and skin cancers. This is a frequent problem. And it is PREVENTABLE!! Both lower lips and upper lips (which go all the way up to the nose) can develop skin cancers and pre-cancers (actinic keratoses), which is why you should use lip sunscreen.

How to spot problems on your lips?

  •  Spots on the lips or just above or below that persistently are red, pink or a little scaly?  These can be tiny, even just a couple of millimeters.
  •  Areas, especially on the lower lips, where you’ve have “chapped lips” for longer than a month or two?
  • Do you have spots that come and go but always come back in the same spot?
  • Do you have spots that bleed easily, itch or just otherwise feel a little sensitive for longer than a month or two ?

If any of the above apply, please have your dermatologist check, or at least your primary care provider.  If your doctor isn’t concerned and the spot persists, please seek a second opinion.

What NOT to do:

  • If you are a lip licker (your friends and family can tell you :)), please stop, use a moisturizing lip product with sunscreen, and give them a month to heal. If they don’t heal, please see your doctor.
  • Please don’t pull off scaly skin or pick!! It just keeps the area from healing properly.
  • Please don’t procrastinate. A certain type of skin cancer on the lips – squamous cell carcinoma – can sometimes be fatal if left to grow.
  • If you have “cold sores” and one lasts longer than a month, please get this checked by your doctor.

Good sunscreen products for the lips. There are several in the shop here:

  • Put the sunscreen you put on your face every morning all the way over and on your lips too.
  • The Jack Black is great for indoors and indoor work days.
  • A more matte lipstick gives you a little protection but put a lip sunscreen over it.
  • For high altitude sports like climbing, mountaineering, skiing… get the white climbers zinc at REI or another outdoor shop.
  • We will be adding the new Colorscience lip product with zinc to the shop in July.

Hope this helps,

Dr. I


Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself.
  • My medical office in Seattle has treated thousands of patients for 15+ years.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product, treatment or device.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes! I have handpicked some of what I consider to be the best skin care products, and offer them for sale on SkinTour's shop. This is based on my team and I's testing and research at our clinic. Many of the products are in my own regimen. What could be better than using skin care products a dermatologist uses?!