A pair of soft, supple, and rosy pink lips is the dream of every woman. But in reality, almost all of us suffer from minor to moderate lip discoloration. Just like the skin on the rest of the body, the skin on the lips may also be of different shades in different people. Though it is an aesthetic issue that hardly causes concerns, we still desperately want to get rid of dark or black lips. So in this article, we will share the causes, prevention, treatment, and 15 amazing tips that will help you lighten dark lips naturally.
What are Dark Lips?
Dark or black lips are nothing but highly pigmented lips. The color of the vermillion of our lips can actually range from very light pink to dark brown. Well, let us dive a bit deeper into it. While the rest of the skin consists of multiple cellular layers, the vermilion of lips has 3 to 5 layers only (1). As the tissues in them are thinner and more delicate, it reveals the shade of the underlying blood vessels. Hence, the lips look pink. People with lighter skin tone get lighter lips with more prominent blood vessels and vice versa. But sometimes, the color of the lips changes over time due to hyperpigmentation caused by certain foods, lifestyles, or medical conditions. Such discoloration makes the lips look darker. However, the condition is mostly harmless, and taking care of the lips as well as addressing the root conditions should resolve the problem easily.
Blue lips can be a medical emergency. It usually happens when the body lacks enough supply of oxygen from the bloodstream. You should get in touch with your doctor to treat low blood oxygen levels.
What Causes Dark Lips?
As mentioned earlier, the darkening of the lips is caused by hyperpigmentation. When the skin on the lips produces more melanin (skin pigment) than usual, they turn darker. Following are some of the potential reasons that may lead to lip hyperpigmentation by encouraging melanin production in the skin (2):
- Too much exposure to the sunlight
- Environmental pollution
- Lack of enough hydration
- The habit of smoking cigarette/tobacco (3), (4)
- Allergic reactions to toothpaste, lipstick, etc.
- Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy
- Excessive intake of caffeine
- The habit of sucking lips
- High levels of stress
- Staining from some foods or drinks
- Extreme use of fluoride
- Specific medical issues, such as vitamin deficiency, anemia, Addison’s disease, etc.
- Use of certain medications like antimalarial drugs, oral antibiotic minocycline (5), etc.
- Undergoing therapies for medical conditions like cancer, Laugier-Hunziker syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, etc. (6)
Read Also – The Best Way to Treat Sunburned Lips
15 Home Remedies to Lighten Dark Lips Naturally
Though there are many commercial lip-lightening products available in the market, it is always good to rely on simple natural remedies that may address your concern effectively without causing any harmful effects. Also, they may help you keep the lips looking and feeling healthy, bright, and attractive. Check out below some amazing options:
1. Cocoa Butter / Shea Butter
Apply a good amount of cocoa butter or shea butter all over your dark lips and massage thoroughly for a few minutes. Being rich in fatty acids and phytochemicals (natural plant compounds), both of these ingredients can form a protective barrier over the skin so that it retains moisture and stays well-hydrated. Hence, practicing this remedy twice every day will give you moisturized, nourished, and brighter lips by preventing cracking and drying.
Gently rub a thin slice of beetroot onto your lips for 3-4 minutes or just apply some raw beetroot juice to them with a small cotton swab. You can also grind a small piece of beetroot in a blender or a food processor and leave the smooth paste on your lips for 5-10 minutes before rinsing off. The natural red color of the vegetable will turn your dark lips lighter and pinker gradually. Do it twice every week and end the procedure with the application of a thin layer of petroleum jelly.
3. Red Grapes
Red grapes are not only good for fighting against premature signs of aging but also great for eliminating lip hyperpigmentation. The vitamin C-rich citrus fruit works as a natural bleaching agent for the skin, thus lightening dark lips effectively. Carotenoid, resveratrol also helps in making the lips look healthier. Juice up a few red grapes and apply them to your lips daily. Wait for 5 to 10 minutes so that the lips absorb it completely. Then, rinse off with plain water.
4. Olive Oil
Massage your dark lips with a few drops of olive oil every night before going to bed. It comes packed with vital vitamins including A, E, C, and K, which cumulatively work to protect the skin from the damaging UV rays of the sun, prevent skin discoloration, lighten dark spots, and promote collagen production. Hence, this remedy turns lips softer, smoother, and more attractive over time.
5. Butter and Sugar
Exfoliation is the key to brighter, smoother, and pinker lips. So, if you want to slough off the layer of dead cells and dirt from your lips and get rid of darkness, opt for the mixture of butter and sugar. Blend 3 teaspoons of sugar with 2 teaspoons of butter until it gets dissolved partially. Exfoliate your lips gently with this for 3-4 minutes and replace butter with olive oil if you wish. Make sure that you practice it at least thrice a week.
6. Lemon Juice
The application of lemon or lime juice is extremely effective in lightening the skin as well as dark lips (7). Being acidic in nature, they work as natural bleaching agents that give visibly pink lips within just one month. Studies have also concluded that the peels of these citrus fruits may act as a melanin inhibitor (8). All you need to do is take a slice of lime or lemon and rub it gently over the lips every night. The next morning, wash it off with cool water.
A mixture of lemon juice, honey, and glycerin can be used for softening and smoothening dry lips while lightening them naturally. You can also rub your lips gently with a sugared lemon wedge, leave it overnight, and rinse them in the morning with tepid water.
7. Coconut Oil and Lemon Juice
When combined with coconut oil, lemon juice lightens, moisturizes, and smoothens dark lips beautifully. The oil has long been known for its incredible emollient and moisturizing properties (9), which protect lips from dehydration and keep them moist. Just lather the lips with a blend of pure coconut oil and fresh lemon juice every day and massage slightly with your fingertips. Repeat it multiple times throughout the day.
8. Almond and Milk
Soak 1-2 almonds in water overnight and prepare a rich blend by grinding them with fresh milk cream the next morning. You can even make a paste by combining 1 tablespoon of fine almond powder with 1 tablespoon of fresh cream. Massage your lips with the paste for 3 to 5 minutes and let it dry. After that, rinse it off with lukewarm water. Doing it regularly will help reveal the fresh pink shade of your lips over time.
9. Lemon Juice and Cucumber Juice
Try preparing your very own natural lip-lightening tonic by mixing fresh lemon juice with fresh cucumber juice. It has been found that cucumber is full of antioxidants and silica-rich compounds, which help lighten the dark shade of lips by fading out pigmentation (10). Regular use of this tonic can make lips soft and pink naturally. Grinding or grating some cucumber and applying it to the lips will also provide the same results.
10. Ghee (Clarified Butter) and Saffron
Ghee or clarified butter comes loaded with fatty acids that are essential to prevent the lips from getting dull, dry, and dehydrated. When a pinch of saffron is added to it, the mixture becomes highly effective for lightening and brightening the skin. So, apply the ghee-saffron mixture to your dark lips regularly and get impressive results.
11. Rose Petals and Butter
If you want rosy pink lips, add rose petals to your regular lip care routine. Take some fresh rose petals and make a paste of it by adding a little butter and some water to it. Now, massage your lips gently with the mixture and leave it on until it gets absorbed. Practice it 3-4 times per day to restore the natural pink shade of lips.
12. Almond Oil
Massage your lips with a few drops of almond oil every night before going to bed. Being full of vitamins and antioxidants, this ingredient is a great cure for dark lips and gives faster results. It delivers adequate hydration to the skin on the lips, reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation, and makes the lips look youthful.
13. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera has numerous benefits for our skin and lightening its tone is just one of them. Studies have revealed that it contains a compound that inhibits the production of melanin in the skin (11). The compound called aloin present in aloe is also known for its depigmentation properties (12). These help in reducing the severity of lip discoloration to a great extent. Scoop out the gel from a fresh aloe vera leaf and massage your lips gently with it twice a day. Once it dries, rinse it off with lukewarm water.
The antioxidant properties of strawberries make them a perfect solution for treating lip discoloration naturally. Crush a strawberry to a smooth paste and massage your lips with it twice every day. You may also mix some baking soda with the strawberry pulp and apply the paste to your lips. Both ways you will get a visibly pink pout within a couple of months.
15. Gram Flour and Turmeric
When it comes to brightening the skin naturally, gram flour and turmeric are used widely. Researchers have also found that the active component called curcumin in turmeric acts as a melanin inhibitor, which helps in lightening the lips too (13). Prepare a thick paste by mixing 1 tablespoon of gram flour, a pinch of turmeric powder, and a little water or milk. Use it as a lip mask twice every week to get rid of the darkness.
Read Also – 15 Awesome Tips to Get Rid of Dry, Scaly Lips
Other Treatments for Lightening Dark Lips
Natural treatments are the safest and the most effective choices for any kind of skin lightening including the lightening of dark lips. However, there are some other options too that may reduce or stop the production of melanin in the skin. These include the following:
These treatments not only provide short-term results but also come with minor to major side effects like irritation, scarring, and even nerve damage. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, commercial skin lightening creams contain mercury, which is highly damaging to health (15).
Read Also – Dark Lips? 7 Best Lip Balms to Rescue
How to Prevent Lips from Getting Dark?
Now, here are a few effective tips that you must follow to keep your lips healthy and prevent them from getting dark:
- Never lick or suck your dry lips to hydrate them.
- Keep drinking fluids throughout the day.
- Keep a tub of petroleum jelly handy and apply it whenever needed.
- Use a lip balm with effective natural skin lightening agent(s) as well as SPF 40+.
- Exfoliate your lips at least twice every week.
- Stay away from low-quality lip products.
- Make sure that you take off lip makeup at the end of the day.
Read Also – How to Get Rid of Ugly White Spots on Lips?
Dark or black lips are nothing but highly pigmented lips. When the skin on the lips produces more melanin (skin pigment) than usual, they turn darker. This is called hyperpigmentation, which is usually triggered by a number of factors. These include too much sun exposure, environmental pollution, lack of hydration, smoking, allergies, hormonal fluctuations, excessive intake of caffeine, sucking of lips, stress, extreme use of fluoride, medical issues (vitamin deficiency, anemia, Addison’s disease), medications (antimalarial drugs, oral antibiotic minocycline), therapies for cancer, Laugier-Hunziker syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, etc. The condition is mostly harmless and can be addressed with some simple natural home remedies like cocoa butter/shea butter, beetroot, red grapes, olive oil, butter and sugar, lemon juice, coconut oil and lemon juice, almond and milk, lemon juice and cucumber juice, ghee and saffron, rose petals and butter, almond oil, aloe vera gel, strawberry, gram flour and turmeric, etc. You may also opt for commercial skin-lightening creams, chemical peels, or laser treatments. But most of them either offer short-term results or come with certain adverse effects. Keeping the lips healthy by following some simple tips and tricks is also necessary to prevent darkening.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does Vaseline Make Lips Darker?
Too much application of Vaseline may make your lips look slightly darker due to the presence of petrolatum in them.
Does Lip Balm Darken Lips?
Commercial lip balms are full of chemicals, which may cause the blackening of lips to some extent.
Can Toothpaste Lighten Lips?
When applied to the lips for a short period of time, toothpaste may lighten them slightly. But keeping it overnight on the lips will cause burning and scarring.
Why Do Lips Turn White?
Lips may turn white or pale due to a medical condition called anemia in which the count of red blood cells goes low.
How Do You Fix Upper Lip Discoloration?
Using an OTC hydroquinone or kojic acid cream along with a topical retinoid may help you fix your upper lip discoloration problem successfully.
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- “16 Ways to Lighten Dark Lips“, Healthline.com
- “Interrelationship of Smoking, Lip, and Gingival Melanin Pigmentation, and Periodontal Status“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Epidemiologic Study of Excessive Oral Melanin Pigmentation With Special Reference to the Influence of Tobacco Habits“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Minocycline-Induced Hyperpigmentation“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Oral Pigmentation: A Review“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Citrus Flavonoids with Skin Lightening Effects – Safety and Efficacy Studies“, ResearchGate.net
- “Nobiletin as a Tyrosinase Inhibitor from the Peel of Citrus Fruit“, JStage.jst.go.jp
- “In Vitro Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Protective Properties of Virgin Coconut Oil“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Invigorating Efficacy of Cucumis sativas for Healthcare & Radiance“, PharmaResearchLibrary.com
- “Aloesin and Arbutin Inhibit Tyrosinase Activity in a Synergistic Manner via a Different Action Mechanism“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “On the Novel Action of Melanolysis by a Leaf Extract of Aloe Vera and Its Active Ingredient Aloin, Potent Skin Depigmenting Agents“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Curcumin Inhibits Melanogenesis in Human Melanocytes“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “An Effective Treatment of Dark Lip by Frequency-Doubled Q-switched Nd:YAG Laser“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Skin Lightener Containing Mercury Can Cause Serious Health Problems“, AAD.org