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Derms reveal this small place you might be forgetting sunscreen — and why you need it

Pucker up for these protective SPF lip balms.
Vivian Le / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

If you've ever had a sunburn in a strange place, like the part in your hair or the tops of your toes, you know all too well how hard it can be to remember to apply sunscreen everywhere it needs to go.

Even once you think you've covered all of your sunscreen bases, it's important to give your lips some special attention as well by coating your kisser thoroughly with a lip balm with SPF. We asked dermatologists why you should be using them, how to find the right one and rounded up a few options for you to choose from.

Why do you need it? | What type of sunscreen should you use? | SPF lip balms | FAQs | Meet the experts

Why do you need SPF for your lips?

"Lips are often left without sunscreen," Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a cosmetic dermatologist and author of "The Pro-Aging Playbook," tells Shop TODAY. "We are seeing an increase of skin cancer and precancerous conditions that happen with excessive sun exposure and typically show up around the corners of the mouth."

Frank warns skin cancer on or around the lip can be tough to treat because there isn't a lot of excess tissue to play with in the area, making it essential to use that SPF lip balm to protect your skin.

"Using sunscreen on your lips is so important for preventing surgical procedures that could leave you with a scar," he adds.

What type of sunscreen do I need for my lips?

"I typically recommend a sunscreen that is specific for the lips, which has zinc and an SPF of 30," Frank says. "Like all sunscreens, you need to reapply every two to three hours, and if you exercise or are drinking, you may need to reapply a little more frequently."

According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Peter Young, your lips need SPF under your lip color, too.

"It may be more convenient to use lipstick containing SPF, which is readily available at most department stores and pharmacies," he suggests.

SPF lip balms to shop

Burt's Bees 100% Natural All-Weather SPF 15

Whether it's winter of summer, Burt's Bees formula boasts 100% effectiveness against ultraviolet rays. This lip balm will both care for your pucker and revitalize your lips.

Shop TODAY editorial assistant Sierra Hoeger likes this lip balm for when her lips are experiences more intense cracks or damage.

Aquaphor Lip Repair Lip Balm with Sunscreen

Chapped lips and dry mouth? Hydrate your kisser with this lip balm containing shea butter, vitamin E and castor seed oil. The sunscreen is great for swimmers that need to keep their skin safe under the sun.

It's a go-to for Shop TODAY associate SEO editor Fran Sales. And assistant partnerships editor Lauren Witonsky is a fan of the stick version from the brand because her hair doesn't stick to it.

Zealios LipGuard SPF 28

This inexpensive lip balm will make your lips super soft thanks to the added shea butter, coconut and jojoba oils. The SPF balm has a lip applicator that's easy to use and the best part is that the formula is reef-safe.

Sun Bum Lip Balm

Loaded with moisturizing ingredients like aloe and vitamin E, this inexpensive sunscreen balm provides lasting protection that heals and nourishes lips while you wear it.

This is another favorite of Hoeger and market assistant Audrey Ekman. "I'm a fan of Sun Bum's lip balm!! Especially because it doesn't taste medicinal like other lip balms!" Hoeger raves.

Banana Boat Sport Ultra Sunscreen Lip Balm

This Banana Boat balm offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection and moisturization for up to 12 hours, according to the brand. With a two-pack of this SPF 40 balm, you'll be covered at the beach and the pool!

Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm

Add a hint of color while protecting your lips with this reliable lip balm. Neutrogena's formula adds a healthier-looking shine to your smile with six moisturizing shades.

Paula's Choice Lipscreen SPF 50

For those who like to keep things simple, this lip balm is fragrance- and flavor-free. Aside from offering SPF 50 protection, the brand says it's also not greasy and protects against harmful UV rays while moisturizing dry, rough lips.

Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25

Heal any lip discomfort with this lip balm from Jack Black formulated with shea butter and avocado oil. Your skin might feel irritated due to sun exposure, but this balm will refresh your smile with its green tea extract, vitamin E and ginger combo.

Supergoop Play Lip Balm with Acai

Made with moisturizing shea butter, this SPF 30 balm locks in hydration and protects lips from the sun. Other natural ingredients like honey and sunflower seed oil also shields from outlying environmental damage.

Cay Skin Isle Lip Balm SPF 30

Filled with soothing ingredients such as vitamin E, sea moss and aloe stem cells, this lip balm promises a non-sticky finish. It comes in three colors: clear, rose and berry.

EltaMD UV Lip Balm BroadSpectrum SPF 36

This UV lip balm from EltaMD contains SPF 36 protection with water-resistant properties to keep your lips ultra-hydrated. The combination of zinc oxide, antioxidants and vitamins C and E offer conditioning and long-lasting moisture.

It's a favorite of Shop TODAY senior social media editor Kate McCarthy. "It isn't sticky or greasy and I'm not a big fan of flavors so I like using this," she says.

Coola Mineral Liplux Balm

Choose from four shades of this tinted SPF 30 lip balm, which contains organic cupuaçu butter and mongongo oil to keep lips smooth and help prevent signs of aging. Sales says this is her pick when she's "feeling fancy."

Supergoop Lipscreen

Swap out your normal lip gloss for this SPF lip balm during the summer! Designed to slide over any lip color or bare lips, this 100% invisible, gloss-style Supergoop balm packs SPF 40.

Skin Authority SkinSuit Lip

This sheer, hydrating SPF 30 lip balm contains natural botanicals said to hydrate and minimize lip lines. It'll also shield your pucker from pollutants, blue light and activity-induced heat.

Supergoop Play Lip Shield Trio

One for your purse, one for your beach bag and one to take poolside! Another winner from Supergoop, this three-pack of moisturizing SPF 30 lip balm is made with coconut, avocado and grape seed oil. It's also water- and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes of activity, according to the brand.

Frequently asked questions

What's the best way to treat lip sunburn?

If you develop a sunburn around the corners of your lips, Young recommends applying "cool water to your lips followed by petroleum jelly a few times daily to lock the moisture in your lips. Drinking plenty of water will also help to rehydrate your lips."

While the lips can recover quickly from a sunburn, usually within three to five days, Young advises avoiding leisure time outdoors during your healing period.

"You can apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointment or cream two to three times daily to help relieve some of the discomforts," he suggests. "Aspirin or NSAIDs (i.e., Ibuprofen, Aleve) may help reduce the redness, swelling and discomfort."

Meet the experts

  • Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist, author and founder of his namesake skin care brand.
  • Dr. Peter Young, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the medical director of Thirty Madison's Skin, Hair and Nails Institute, a platform that offers virtual patient care.