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You’ve seen the claims and the products. You look at the labels of your lip-bound cosmetic and wonder…

“is this really helping my lips?”

There’s a chance your product may require frequent application as it is drying out your lips.

Take a moment to learn a little more about your beautiful lips and how to maintain them. Because they deserve it. After all, you can’t drink wine or pronounce a “p” properly without them.

An Introduction to the Evolution, Anatomy, & Utility of the Human Lips

Many mammals posses lips, yet human lips are unique in that they are permanently turned outwards and possess a clearly defined border between the skin of the face and that of the lips (appropriately called the vermilion border).

First and foremost, lips allow for minimal nutritional loss during breast feeding. The sucking and rooting reflex is essential for human infants as their are born comparatively underdeveloped to ensure the brain and skull can pass through the birth canal. While the tongue does most of the mechanical work, outward turned lips allow for the creation of a seal connecting mother and child.

In the development of linguistics, human evolved muscles and lips useful for articulation.

By bringing our lips together we can form the sounds associated with the letter “p”, “b” and “m” (go ahead, I did it too).

Bringing the central incisors of the maxilla (upper jaw) to our bottom lip, we can form the sounds of the letters “f” and “v”. The sounds of “r, y, and w” are also possible in thanks to lip movement.

Kissing!

I was so excited to write this part because it allows me to reference a paper written by Darwin discussing the cultural prominence of kissing. It’s a fun read!

The combination of sensitive nerve endings, thin skin, proximity to the nose, and promotion of blood flow allows for a deep, biological connection to be made between two individuals.

The nerve endings found in the postcentral gyrus within the somatosensory cortex contain equally large conduits of nerve-processing for the lips and hands. Just as we explore the world with our hands, so do we with our lips. Explains why babies grab everything and put it in their mouths…

The philtrum (or cupid’s bow) is a byproduct of fetal development. Cells and tissues called the nasmedial prominence and maxillary prominence fold to create the cupid’s bow. Malformations like cleft pallet occur at this stage of development.

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In general, skin is composed of three separate layers:

  • the stratum corneum

  • epidermis
  • and dermis (listed outer to inner layer)

The epidermis provides the melanin (pigment) and new skin cells for the stratum corneum made to protect the body from its outer environment. Lips, however, are devoid of melanocytes, hair follicles, and posses a very thin layer of protective stratum corneum.

Thus, they reveal the color of blood vessels within and appear pink, ready, or a light brown. The skin of the lips also lack sebaceous glands and prevent lips from generating their own oils and moisture forcing lips to rely on food/water intake and ancillary products (cosmetics).

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The development of thin, sensitive skin used to connect with the foods we eat and the ones we love requires special care as it can easily become infected, irritated, chapped, or otherwise damaged.

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Maintaining Healthy Lips – What to Look for and what to Avoid…

Many consumers are now educated to the fact that many lip glosses, chapsticks, and other lip cosmetics initially give the feeling of hydrated lips, only to feel dry a few moments later and require reapplication.

Common ingredients of lip balms with humectants that can potentially damage lips are hyaluronic acid and glycerin. These ingredients are humectants and thus draw in water. Once absorbed, the water simply evaporates from the skin, compounding the damage of chapped lips.

This is why certain products require frequent application to retain that feeling of moisturization.

However, humectant/emollient ingredients can become synergistic with occlusive (or barrier forming) ingredients and can then truly heal and protect the lips.

Beeswax, shea butter, and a number of naturally-derived oils can prevent water loss through the creation of a barrier that does not allow the water absorbed via the humectant to evaporate.

Here’s how you can determine if your lip-bound cosmetics are truly going to aide in the health of your lips…

Look for these:

  • Paraben-free
  • Contain ceramides
  • Contain humectant glycerin along with bees wax or synthetic wax
  • Contain dimethicone
  • Contain lanolin and cocoa butter
  • Have SPF or sunscreen-derivative ingredients such as Japonicus Leaf/Stalk Extract

Avoid these if you have sensitive skin:

  • Fragrances, artificial colors
  • Menthol, camphor, and phenol (be particularly careful of menthol!)
  • Salicylic acid
  • Aloe butter

The best route to take in lip care is to drink water, protect your lips with a balm or gloss (best when applied before bed), exfoliate with sugar and honey, and take care as to which cosmetics you purchase.

LipSense Products and the claim of being “wax-free”

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Time for some myth-busting (I love that show). Our LipSense colors ARE in fact wax-free which is very unique in the world of cosmetics and worth boasting. BUT, take special care to this claim as, our LipSense gloss is NOT wax-free. As you already know, the presence of wax is an essential component to complimenting humectants and keeping your lips healthy throughout the day.

 

SeneGence (the company that makes LipSense) chose to stay vegan and cruelty-free. One underrated benefit is that LipSense is also Bee-friendly. Sadly, products using all-natural beeswax decimate bee populations due to the frequent use of neonicotinoids (a discussion for a different article perhaps, but feel free to google search) and other toxins to ensure maximal wax/honey production.

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Essentially the pesticides used to keep bees safe from other insects (mites and such) are also dangerous to bees and while initially allows for maximal wax/honey gains; result in long-term damage of bee hives, populations, and the environment as a whole.

Thus, SeneGence went vegan with the use of Synthetic Beeswax to ensure this does not occur with any of their products. Read more about the ingredients in LipSense gloss here. 

The “Exfoliation Process”

First-time users of LipSense may experience up to a week (depending on your own personal regimens and skin care) of what is called the “exfoliation process”.

LipsReally, “healing process” would be more attuned to what occurs. Years of chapstick use, naturally dry or sensitive lips, and dehydration can result in the build up of damaged skin cells.

For LipSense to apply and stay on smoothly throughout the day, optimal lip health allows for the greatest gains in aesthetic. Makes sense, the healthier your lips, the more beautiful LipSense will look upon them. 

Please note: You will see many images out there claiming that “wax build up from other products” is what causes the poor lip health associated with the “exfoliation process”. This claim should not be continued.

Poor lip skin care, dehydration, and uniformed choices of lip care products simply result in a damaged canvas on which to apply your LipSense.

LipSense is designed to maintain lip health but it will need a little help getting your lips healthy enough for the color to go on smoothly and last all day.

It is ESSENTIAL that first time users utilize a gentle lip scrub (don’t rub too hard or use a harsh exfoliant or it’ll burn something fierce) before applying LipSense and simply wear the gloss to sleep. For me, it took about 2 or 3 days.

I try my best to drink water throughout the day but you know full-time job as a tutor, part-time job as a chemistry instructor, side gig selling LipSense, mom of a 2-year-old, etc. It can be tough to find time for water!

Olivia (my daughter) and I get together each Friday morning to make a fresh batch of lip scrub to give to our customers. It’s all natural and very gentle.

Feel free to comment or message me if you want me to send you a sample!  Also, please comment below as to what you would like for me to research next Sunday. 

That’s it! Now go take care of your skin! (:

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References

  1. Darwin, Charles, Martin M. Cummings, and G.-B Duchenne. The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. London: John Murray, 1872. Print.
  2. Kelly, Morgan. “Out of the mouths of primates, facial mechanics of human speech may have evolved.” Princeton University. The Trustees of Princeton University, 20 June 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2017. <https://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S34/00/36M97/&gt;.
  3. Romer, Alfred Sherwood; Parsons, Thomas S. (1977). The Vertebrate Body. Philadelphia, PA: Holt-Saunders International. p. 297. ISBN 0-03-910284-X.
  4. Law Smith, Miriam J.; Deady, Denis K.; Moore, Fhionna R.; Jones, Benedict C.; Cornwell, R. Elisabeth; Stirrat, Michael; Lawson, Jamie F.; Feinberg, David R.; Perrett, David I. (2011-09-21). “Maternal tendencies in women are associated with estrogen levels and facial femininity”. Hormones and Behavior. 61 (1): 12–6. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.09.005.
  5. Dudas M, Li WY, Kim J, Yang A, Kaartinen V (2007). “Palatal fusion — where do the midline cells go? A review on cleft palate, a major human birth defect”. Acta Histochem. 109 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1016/j.acthis.2006.05.009.
  6. Myerscough, Mary R.: Dancing for a decision: a matrix model for nest-site choice by honeybees, Proc. Royal Soc. London B 270 (2003) 577-582.