Are your lips losing their beautiful pinkish glow? Dark lips can be more than an aesthetic problem, indicating underlying medical issues.
Excess melanin deposition can give your lips a dark, unhealthy appearance. According to Ayurveda, aggravation of vata and pitta and a reduction in healthy kapha can lead to dry, dark lips. While various cosmetic solutions are available, none are devoid of risks.
Resorting to natural remedies can holistically address the root cause of your problem. Read on to know the best natural remedies to lighten your dark lips permanently.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Says
“Healthy lips represent healthy digestion and taking good care of it affects the digestion positively.”
Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor Of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
Causes Of Dark Lips
1. Smoking Cigarettes
Smoking tobacco products such as cigarettes is a major cause of lip-darkening . Nicotine, an alkaloid present in tobacco that acts as a stimulant with addictive properties gets deposited on skin cells. This build-up of nicotine  stimulates increased melanin synthesis and hyperpigmentation of the lips.
2. Smokeless Tobacco Consumption
There is widespread consumption of smokeless tobacco  products such as ‘paan’ and ‘gutkha’ in south Asian communities. Due to this practice, both men and women fall prey to the side effects of nicotine consumption, which includes hyperpigmentation of exposed mouth and lip areas.
3. Alcohol Abuse
Frequent alcohol consumption can have various adverse effects on your skin health. This includes darkening of lips, areas around the mouth and other body parts. In some cases, hyperpigmentation in heavy drinkers occurs due to medical conditions such as chronic liver disease .
During pregnancy, a condition called chloasma  can cause dark patches on the lips and other parts of the face. Such pigmentation is thought to be stimulated by female sex hormones and often fades without treatment in a few months.
A lack of essential moisture can lead to dry, chapped lips. Skin peeling and minor injuries caused by lack of hydration can cause your lips to darken.
6. Pigmented Contact Cheilitis
The skin on your lips may be sensitized by irritants in your toothpaste, lipstick or any other lip care product leading to an allergic reaction. The symptoms of pigmented contact cheilitis  include lip inflammation, dry scabs, peeling and hyperpigmentation. Identifying and avoiding the allergen can ensure quick treatment of the condition.
7. Sun Exposure
The pigment melanin acts as your skin's natural defense against harmful UV rays of the sun. It prevents the generation of reactive oxygen species and DNA cell damage. Thus, whenever the skin is exposed to the sun there is an increase in melanin leading to hyperpigmentation. This in turn can cause your lips to darken along with other exposed body parts.
8. Peutz- Jeghers Syndrome
This condition causes benign lesions in the gastrointestinal tract. Other symptoms of peutz-jeghers syndrome include dark macules on the lips and inside the mouth. Both children and adults can develop the condition and it can make them susceptible to certain forms of cancer.
9. Medicine Side Effects
Various classes of medications such as antivirals, antihypertensives, antifungals, antileprotics, antibiotics and others can cause your lips to darken.
10. Medical Treatments
Certain medical treatments such as chemotherapy take a huge toll on the body and can trigger various side effects including rashes and hyperpigmentation on the face and lips.
11. Vitamin Deficiency
A deficiency in Vitamin B12  can have several cutaneous manifestations which includes lip pigmentation.
There is an increased number of women in India who suffer from lip pigmentation and oral cancer due to the consumption of smokeless tobacco products such as paan.
How To Lighten Dark Lips Naturally?
Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix, says, “Lips are the first organ of the digestive tract. Healthy lips represent healthy digestion and taking good care of it affects the digestion positively. Ayurveda categorizes a set of herbs and daily regimen treatments, for lips under Oshtha prasadakas.”
A. Ayurveda And Home Remedies
According to Ayurveda, herbs that help balance the vata and pitta doshas and are also equipped with ‘Varnya’ (skin brightening) properties serve as best treatments for lightening dark lips permanently.
A few home and Ayurvedic remedies to lighten dark lips include:
1. Lemon And Sugar
Lemon contains citric acid which is a natural skin brightener. Along with sugar it helps to slough off pigmented dead cells, thus lightening your dark lips.
Simply take a slice of lemon and sprinkle some sugar on it. Gently rub it on your dark lips. Leave it on for an hour and wash off with lukewarm water.
2. Beetroot Juice
A commonly used home remedy for lightening dark lips is beetroot juice. Being rich in antioxidants, vitamins and iron, it helps scavenge free radicals in your skin, fight pigmentation and restore health to your lips.
Blend a beetroot and extract its juice. Store it in your refrigerator and apply it 2 to 3 times a day for 15 minutes and wash off.
3. Orange Peel And Honey
With a high content of vitamin C, orange peel lightens dark lips. Adding honey to this natural remedy protects your lips from bacterial infections and helps heal chapped, dry lips.
Add honey to a spoon of orange peel powder. Mix well and apply on your lips. Leave it on for an hour and wash off. Use twice daily to lighten your dark lips naturally.
4. Pomegranate Seeds
According to a study in 2015, dried pomegranate powder showed effective inhibition of melanogenesis.The fruit is also rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and phenols which helps lighten lips that have darkened due to sun exposure.
Take a tablespoon of dried pomegranate seed powder and add a few drops of honey or yogurt to make a paste. Apply this on your lips and leave it on for 30 minutes before washing off.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel is a natural skin lightening agent due to the presence of the compound aloin. Applying aloe vera gel on dark lips not only lightens them but also keeps them moisturized throughout the day.
You can slice an aloe vera leaf and directly rub the fresh gel on your lips. Leave it on as a natural lip balm or wash off after an hour.
One of the most preferred therapeutic herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine is haridra or turmeric. With amazing ‘varnya’ properties, topical application of turmeric shows effective inhibition of tyrosinase (enzyme responsible for melanin synthesis). The presence of curcumin further reduces inflammation of your lips and prevents chances of infection.
Blend raw turmeric into a paste. Add a few drops of milk to a tablespoon of turmeric paste and apply to lighten your dark lips. Wash off the paste with lukewarm water after 30 to 40 minutes.
7. Sariva/ Indian Sarsaparilla
Sariva, an ancient Ayurvedic herb used to treat various skin conditions can inhibit monophenolase activity, a reaction essential for melanin production. Crude extracts of this herb is an effective natural remedy for lightening dark lips permanently.
Add a few drops of water to a tablespoon of sariva powder and apply on your dark lips. Wash off after an hour.
Sandalwood is known for its cooling nature and pitta pacifying properties. Santalol, the main compound in this herb, helps reduce melanin production in your skin and lightens your dark lips.
Add water/ uncooked ghee/ milk to a tablespoon of sandalwood powder and make a paste. Apply on your lips and wash off after 30 minutes. Repeat daily till the condition improves.
9. Saffron And Raw Milk
Saffron has been used in Ayurveda for its anti-aging, antioxidant and skin-brightening abilities since ancient days. Components such as saffranal, crocetin  and crocin in saffron are capable of controlling tyrosinase activity and lowering the amount of melanin in your skin cells.
Raw milk contains lactic acid which helps to bleach the topmost damaged pigmented layer of cells and thereby lighten your dark lips in a few weeks.
Soak a teaspoon of saffron in milk for an hour and apply on your dark lips. Leave it on for 20 minutes and wash off.
10. Papaya And Curd
The enzyme papain in papaya and lactic acid in curd help lighten dark lips with regular application.
Mash a ripe papaya and add a small amount of curd to it to make a paste. Apply on your dark lips for 20 minutes and wash off.
11. Goji Berry
The presence of natural antioxidant compounds such as quercetin, vitamin C and carotenoids make goji berries  a natural remedy for dark lips.
Prepare a paste by adding some water to a tablespoon of goji berry powder. Apply this on your lips and wash off after 20 to 30 minutes.
12. Guava Leaves
Including guava leaves in your lip care routine can help you lighten your dark lips naturally. Guava leaves are packed with isoflavonoids, ascorbic acid and plant compounds that give this herb its anti-inflammatory and depigmenting properties.
Take 2 to 3 fresh guava leaves and mash them into a paste. Add a few drops of coconut oil or raw milk and apply on your dark lips. Wash off after 20 to 30 minutes.
13. Yashtimadhu And Pure Ghee
Licorice or yashtimadhu contains a depigmenting compound called glabradin which reduces melanin synthesis and helps lighten dark lips. Adding pure ghee to this remedy keeps your lips moisturized and prevents skin infections.
Add a few drops of uncooked ghee to a tablespoon of yashtimadhu powder and apply on your dark lips. Leave it on for an hour and wash off.
According to research, the presence of alkaloids such as berberine, palmatine and others lend this ancient varnya herb its skin brightening properties. Daruharidra root extracts show around 20.8% tyrosinase activity inhibition making it an effective remedy for pigmented lips.
Add ghee/ milk/ coconut oil to a tablespoon of daruharidra and apply this paste on your lips. Wash off after 30 minutes.
15. Rosehip Essential Oil
Rosehip oil is a natural moisturizer and skin brightener. Being rich in essential fatty acids such as oleic acid and linoleic acids, applying rosehip oil on dark lips can lighten them naturally.
Dilute 5 drops of rosehip essential oil with 20ml of olive oil and apply on your lips. Gently massage for 15 minutes and wash off.
Vedix Tip: Consume 1-2 teaspoons of triphala powder everyday with water to balance your vata and pitta doshas.
B. Other Natural Remedies For Dark Lips
1. Lip Balms
Frequent moisturization can enhance healing of your darkened lips. Using herbal lip balms that contain skin brightening ingredients can increase cell renewal rate and bring to surface healthy new skin cells.
2. Potato Juice
Natural enzymes in potatoes have a mild bleaching effect on skin that can lighten dark lips naturally.
Blend a potato and extract its juice or simply cut a slice and rub it on your lips. Wash off after 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Tomato Pulp
Tomato contains lycopene that is known to lighten skin pigmentation. Lips darkened from sun exposure or tobacco use can benefit from regular application of tomato pulp.
Mash a tomato and apply its pulp on your pigmented lips. Gently massage and wash off after 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Mustard Oil
Rich in vitamins and essential fatty acids, massaging your dark lips with mustard oil twice a day can help lighten them and improve their texture.
Rub 2 to 3 drops of mustard oil on your lips for 10 to 15 minutes and wash off.
5. Rose Water
Rose water can lighten pigmented dark lips and also help keep them moisturized.
Mix 2-3 drops of rose water with 5 drops of glycerin and apply on your lips. You can also use this as an overnight treatment to lighten dark lips.
How Do You Get Rid Of Smokers’ Lips?
1. Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.
2. Consume foods that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins.
3. Apply lip balm frequently throughout the day whenever your lips feel dry.
4. Do not lick your lips or peel off skin from them.
5. Keep yourself hydrated.
6. Include fruit and herbal lip masks in your daily lip care routine.
7. Exfoliate your dark lips with natural ingredients such as lemon and sugar, oatmeal, masoor dal or besan.
8. Apply sunscreen on your lips and avoid excessive sun exposure.
How Do Dermatologists Lighten Dark Lips?
1. Chemical Peeling
For extreme cases of lip pigmentation, your dermatologist may suggest chemical peeling to lighten your dark lips. In this procedure, a chemical solution usually containing glycolic acid, lactic acid or salicylic acid is applied on your lips.
While chemical peeling can bring about a quick dramatic change in your lip’s appearance, there are risks of skin inflammation after the treatment.
2. Laser Therapy
Laser therapy  is often considered a more permanent treatment for pigmentation disorders including lip darkening. Here, a concentrated light beam is used to break-down accumulated pigments in your skin cells.
It also stimulates the body’s natural immune system to produce healthy new cells at the site of the lesions. However, if the root cause of the problem is not addressed, new hyperpigmentation can occur in the laser-treated areas.
The Last Word
While dark lips can be a cosmetic hindrance, it is advisable to treat the issue rather than hide it with make-up, which may further aggravate the condition. Avoid the obvious causes of lip darkening such as tobacco use or environmental damages to aid the healing process.
Mild pigmentation can be easily treated with the natural and home remedies mentioned in this article. Knowing your unique prakriti can also help you treat the condition better. However, if you notice that the condition remains unresolved or is recurring despite treatment, consult your dermatologist for undetected health conditions.Know Your Dosha Now
1. Link Between Facultative Melanin And Tobacco Use Among African Americans, 2009 March
2. Nicotine Impact On Melanogenesis And Antioxidant Defense System In HEMn-DP Melanocytes, 2014 June
3. Oral Melanin Pigmentation In Smoked And Smokeless Tobacco Users In India. Clinico-Pathological Study, 2003 April-June
4. Cutaneous Adverse Effects Of Alcohol, 2011
5. Changes To Your Skin During Pregnancy, 2020 January
6. Pigmented Contact Cheilitis, 2010
7. Cutaneous Lesions And Vitamin B12 Deficiency, 2008 April
8. ROS- Scavenging And Anti-Tyrosinase Properties Of Crocetin On B16F10 Murine Melanoma Cells, 2018
9. Traditional Asian Herbs In Skin Whitening: The Current Development And Limitations, 2020 July
10. Lasers For Treatment Of Melasma And Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, 2012 April-June
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