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Lip Pigmentation: Causes & Treatments

by Rashi Bahel Mehra |  | 10 comments

What is Lip Pigmentation?

Lip Pigmentation or lip discoloration, is the darkening of lips, the appearance of patches, or two-toned lips. While there are several congenital as well as non-genetic causes behind lip pigmentation, its anatomical structure will aid you in better comprehending why they get pigmented much more often.

They have only three to five cellular layers, unlike the rest of your skin. Hence, the tissue is thinner and sheerer, allowing the color of the blood vessels beneath to shine through. Lips do not have sweat glands or hair follicles. They do not sweat or create sebum to protect the lip skin against external factors. Therefore, it is a must to moisturize your lips regularly. Different factors might cause discolored lips other than genetics, and we will talk about them gradually as we move ahead.

Lip Skin Cell vs Face Skin Cell


Causes of Lip Pigmentation

1.Sun Exposure - Extensive exposure can cause an overproduction of melanin, resulting in hyperpigmentation on lips. Lips have delicate skin, and harmful UV radiations from the sun can discolor & make them dehydrated.

2. Wrong lip product - Most daily-use cosmetics are typically chemical ridden. Some of them may react erroneously with our skin or cause allergic reactions resulting in darker or further pigmented lips. Using a skin care product on your delicate lips may cause them to react poorly as well! 

3.Smoking - It is not only harmful to your health, but it is also awful for your lips. Nicotine and Tar - chemical components found in cigarettes, deplete the skin's oxygen supply and cause lip darkening. When you hold a cigarette while pursing your lips, it causes lip wrinkles over time too!

4. Lack of hydration - When we don't drink enough water, our skin becomes dehydrated, and one of the effects on our lips is that they become dark. Drinking plenty of fluids helps to remove the pigmentation as well as flush out toxins from our bodies.

5. Poor lip care routine - We tend to hide our lips with chemically loaded lipsticks, allowing the underlying problem to be unrecognized. Lip skin is far more fragile than the skin on the rest of the body, so it's crucial to follow a proper lip care routine to ensure that the lips get the attention they deserve.

6. Excessive Lip Biting - When we have dry and chapped lips, instead of addressing the underlying cause and attempting to resolve it, we often instinctively bite at the dry ends of our lips or lick our lips excessively; the saliva causes the moisture from the lips to escape with it, making the lips dehydrated. Chronic Lip biting is also a habit found in many people out there. 

7. Vitamin B deficiency - If you ever felt uneasy cracks and dryness at the corner of your lips, it could be because of vitamin B deficiency (especially Vitamin B7 & B12) leading to symptoms like dry, chapped, and cracked lips. 

Two surprising things that cause lip pigmentation:

1. Eating Excessive amounts of salt and spice 

Salt causes lips to dry and spice makes them flaky and irritated, whatever you eat touches your lips first before it enters your body. Make sure to limit your salt and spice intake to not cause any harm to your lip barrier.

2. Drinking extremely hot beverages frequently

Heat is not good for your lips as it dries the lip skin out and may even burn them a little. Drinking extremely hot tea and coffee can also cause lip pigmentation and dryness. Try to drink them accordingly.

Upper Lip Pigmentation: 

You might have noticed that the upper lip is generally darker than the lower lip, Ever wondered why? Many times there is pigmentation around the lips as well and It is completely normal to have two-toned lips, these may be the underlying reasons:

Upper Lip Pigmentation 

Treatments available for Dark and Pigmented Lips

There are plenty of options available to treat dark and pigmented lips out there! Varying from a generic lip balm to laser therapies and lip care essentials. So which one should you choose?

It depends on several factors but mainly on time, money, and the severity of your condition. How early do you want the results and how much are you willing to spend on it.

Home Remedies

There are a bunch of home remedies available to lighten lips. These remedies have been passed on through generations and they might even be very effective But they are not scientifically proven and may or may not cause barrier damage so it is considered risky to experiment with homemade remedies. Plus they provide results after a lot of hit and trial and your lips aren't guinea pigs!

Laser therapy for Pigmented Lips

Laser therapy uses heat energy. It targets the melanin deposits in your lips and helps reduce pigmentation by exfoliating the top layer of your lip skin. 

Lip Fillers, on the other hand, use a topical anesthetic while during laser therapy it isn't normally required to apply a topical anesthetic. Because fillers are injected inside the lips while laser therapy is the exfoliation of lips using heat energy. Fillers are generally used for making the lips plump and full.


Provide immediate and instant results.

Lips get pigmentation-free


Heavy chances of mishaps 

Cost a fortune 

May harm the lip barrier if done inappropriately 

Eye injuries 

Can irritate leading to inflammation

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation darkens the skin further.


Ideal Way to Treat Pigmented Lips?

 To reach a certain goal, You have to follow a set of steps, similar is with skin and lip care. If you follow a proper lip care regimen with consistency, and patience, along with a healthy diet you will be able to treat lip concerns efficiently. 


Before you begin your lip care routine, it's crucial to wash your lips to ensure that all traces of lip makeup, dirt, and free radical damage have been removed. Ideally, it would be best if you do it at least twice every day.

A woman cleansing her lips

Exfoliation - "but the right way"…

Gentle exfoliation is the key to swaying away dead and dry lip cells. Ensure that you use a scrub with ingredients meant for lip skin that do not harm the lip barrier.

Exfoliating using lip scrub


Your lips need to be externally as well as internally hydrated. Ensure to apply a lip moisturizing cream that has butters emollients and active ingredients like Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, Pracaxi Seed Oil, Shea and Cocoa butter, etc which are proven to boost lip collagen as well as provide intense nourishment.

Lip Moisturising


It is as important as each step. Healing or Repairing lips using a lip mask is essential to make them healthy from their roots instead of putting and hiding them under layers of lip makeup. You can even try overnight lip healing using a night lip mask so that you can wake up to soft, subtle, and pigmentation-free lips over time with regular usage! 

A woman applying lip buttermask

Things to do along with following a Proper Lip Care Regime- 

  1. Always ensure to apply a lip SPF to protect your lips from UV Rays.
  2. Eat well with all the necessary vitamins and minerals
  3. Drink an adequate amount of water and keep yourself hydrated.
  4. Do not lick, bite, or pick your lips.


In a nutshell, one of the most prominent aspects of the face is your lips, and a healthy lip care routine can assist you in achieving naturally pink and smooth lips. If your lips are always chapped or dry, there is something wrong with your lifestyle or lip care routine. You can achieve healthy lips by making a few conscious decisions in your day-to-day lifestyle.



Comments (10)

  • Abhilash on March 14, 2023

    An insightful and best description of lip pigmentation I ever came across.

  • Rashmi Marampalli on March 09, 2023

    Thank you for suggesting or rather explaining how dark pigmented lips can actually be treated

  • Ashraf on March 06, 2023

    Interesting how a complicated topic like pigmentation has been explained so easily.

  • Gajendra Singh on March 01, 2023

    The best way to make a beginner understand a concern like lip pigmentation in a fun and easy way.

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