Quiz: Lip Service

Our lips are important to us—they help us eat and drink, talk, and even communicate silently. After all, what spoken word is as powerful as a smile? We want our lips to look good, too. Last year, Americans spent nearly $650 million on lip cosmetics, choosing from among hundreds of possible colors and shades. But too often, the actual health of our lips gets glossed over. Like the rest of your skin, your lips face (pun not intended) regular threats such as sun overexposure. Take our quiz to learn more:

1. Your lips need to be treated differently from the rest of your skin because:

A. They don’t tan, but can get sunburned
B. Their outer layer is very thin
C. They are exposed to the sun and other elements year round
D. All of the above

2. The best way to protect your lips from both short- and long-term problems is:

A. Providing natural moisture by licking your lips often
B. Wearing lipstick or lip gloss
C . Using a lip balm with an SPF of 30 whenever you’re outside
D. Letting the lips protect themselves with their natural oil

3. Protecting your lips from the sun is only a concern during the long days of summer.

A. True
B. False

4. Unprotected lips can become chapped (dry, scaly and painful) but also increase the risk of: 

A. Redness 
B. Swelling
C. Cold sores
D. Dryness around the corners of the mouth
E. All of the above

5. Sun overexposure can alter your lips’ collagen, the protein that gives the skin strength and elasticity.

A. True
B. False

6. Lips need more moisturizing and conditioning as you: 

A. Become more active
B. Consume more caffeine or alcohol
C. Age
D. Use makeup daily


1. D. All of the above. Your lips’ thin outer layer lets moisture evaporate more quickly. They also have little to no melanin, the natural pigment that screens out sun rays. For these reasons, lips require their own specific care. 

2. C. Using a lip balm with an SPF of 30. Lipstick and lip gloss provide some protection, but not on the same level as a product made with an SPF rating. Licking your lips can actually be harmful, as saliva can act like a lens and make sun exposure stronger. 

3. B. False. Although the level of UVB rays—those that contribute most to skin cancer—is greater in warmer months, the level of harmful UVA rays throughout the year is relatively constant. Also, clouds don't protect you from UVB rays.

4. E. All of the above. These symptoms are more acute. Over time, too much sun exposure to the lips can also increase the risk of skin cancer. 

5. A. True. Though the body produces less collagen as you age, UV rays can cause it to break down at a higher rate. This may cause wrinkles to appear earlier than they would naturally. 

6. C. Age. As you get older, your natural hydration decreases and the outer layer of skin gets thinner. 

Source: The Health Library at www.sjchs.org. 

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