Your Lips Are More Sensitive Than You Think – Learn Why

Aly Walansky
Red Lips

Milena Boniek/PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections

Do your lips burn? Feel dry? Get painfully cracked way too often? Our lips may be one of our favorite body parts–we use them for kissing and for eating – but it turns out that they are rather delicate and they deserve extra special care! We spoke to several different specialists to find out exactly what you should be looking out for with your lips, and how to give them the care they need.

New meaning to being “thin-lipped”
Sensitivity in your lips is caused by a couple different factors. “There are only three to five cellular layers compared to typical face skin which can have up to 16 layers,” says Dr. Jessica Emery, cosmetic dentist and owner of Sugar Fix Dental Loft Chicago. The lack of layers allows our blood vessels to show through, giving our lips their pink or red color.

Of course, being that our lips are thin and sensitive means they are extra susceptible to sun damage, so make sure to slather on that SPF protection!

MORE: #LipstickProblems: Quick Fixes for the Worst Issues

There’s a reason you feel a spark when you kiss…
Lips are replete with nerve endings so the skin is extremely sensitive to touch, feel and temperature. Just consider all those times you ate hot pizza and had the blisters to tell the story.

The outer layer of skin is a very thin squamous epithelium overlying mucosal skin so they can become irritated from overwork and abuse. This includes eating, lip-licking and tooth brushing,” says Dr. Jeannette Graf, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Replenish that moisture
Dr. Emery says our lips also lack sweat glands, which produce natural oils to protect your skin from the elements. Because of this, lips dry out and become chapped more easily than normal skin.

“Lips notably lose 10 times more moisture than any other part of the body,” states Austin-based Spa Réveil Spa Manager and Esthetician, Babette Crowder. “Chapped and sensitive lips can be caused from dryness and sun exposure especially in the summer and chapping can then be aggravated by licking or biting the lips.”

This is why it’s helpful to keep lips moist and protected with lip balms (and SPF lip balms during the day). “Keeping lips moist and protected will enhance the integrity of the outer moisture barrier of the lips and diminish the incidence of sensitivities,” says Dr. Graf.

Sleeping beauty
“I put Eight Hour Cream ($19.50, on my lips every night before I go to sleep. Taking care of your lips at night is crucial because as we sleep, we lose a lot of moisture in our skin. Because our lip  skin is so much thinner, they tend to feel dried out first,” says Elizabeth Arden Global Makeup Artist Rebecca Restrepo.