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Last updated June 19, 2017, originally published February 11, 2013
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Everyone strives for the perfect colored pout. But a black
lip can make you look strange, unhealthy and injured. Are
your lips black when they’re normally pink? Do you suffer
from dark patches on your lips or around your mouth?
Your lips are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the
sun, smoking, dry air and injury. The skin on your lips is
delicate and, unlike elsewhere on your body, doesn’t have
sweat and oil glands to help keep things moist and evenly
colored. Why is your lip black, and what can you do about
it? Are there foods or other tips that are natural remedies
for a black lip?
Things that Make Your Lip Black
It is relatively common to find yourself with a black lip or
lips at some stage of your life. Just like the skin on other
parts of your body, your lips suffer from the sun’s rays.
Your lips are vulnerable to hyperpigmentation, the
overproduction of melanin. Melanin is responsible for the
color in your skin and when exposed to ultraviolet rays
from the sun your skin changes color – this is where you
get a tan. Your lips can be darkened by the sun’s rays and
you may also suffer from hyperpigmentation if you are
pregnant, or you suffer from conditions such as Addison’s
disease which cause an over-production of melanin.
Dry lips can cause areas of darkened skin as well as scaling
and redness. According to a 2007 National Health Interview
Survey around 81 million Americans have dry skin
somewhere on their body, including the lips, during the
winter. Summer can also bring dry and discolored lips. Lips
may also be blackened due to bruising, or eating certain
foods and drinks.
What Can I Do About My Black Lip?
In most cases a black lip is not serious and the normal
pinky red color is likely to return. Depending on the cause
of the black lip there are several things you can do to get
your lips back to their regular hue in less time.
We looked at the scientific evidence for treating a black lip
to give you the following natural remedies.
Top 10 Remedies for a Black Lip
1. Smoking Causes a Black Lip
If you need one more reason to stub out the cigarette,
think how it is affecting your skin – particularly the delicate
skin on your lip.
Smoking is a major cause of hyper-pigmentation of the
mouth and lip and the more you smoke, the worse it gets.
A 2007 study from Fukuoka Dental College, Japan said
there was a striking association between smoking and
pigmentation of the lip. Among people with lip-
pigmentation 73 percent were smokers.
Get rid of black lips by kicking the habit. Take up gum
chewing as a distraction from the urge. Nicotine patches
also work for many people, especially in a setting with
nursing support, according to a 1993 study from Imperial
Cancer Research Fund General Practice Research Group in
2. Lip Stain is a Cause of Black Lip
Did you think about what you ate recently, or drank?
Strong-colored food and drink can cause lip staining,
making your lips appear dark or black.
The effect of foods that stain your lips fades with time but
you can help things along by exfoliating your lips.
Exfoliating removes dead skin and takes away stains more
quickly. Gently slough the slips with a wet toothbrush or
mix together sugar and honey and rub it into your lips at
least once a week.
3. Cure a Black Lip Caused by Bruising
Black lips can be a temporary problem caused when you
trip and fall, or are hit in the face during sports, causing
bruising around the mouth. Time and care are usually all
you need to clear up bruises but there are some remedies
that can also help.
Arnica is said to be effective for bruises, as is bromelain.
Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapples which has
been studies for various purposes, including the reduction
of inflammation in nasal passages and the reduction of the
risk of heart disease.
JL Blonstein studied bromelain's power to decrease
bruising in a 1969 study entitled “Control of swelling in
Dr. Blonstein looked at 74 boxers with bruises on their
faces who took bromelain and 58 out of the group lost all
sign of the bruise within four days.
4. Soothe Black Lip Caused by Sunburn with Aloe Vera?
Overexposure to the sun causes sunburn and sunburn can
show itself as black marks on the lip or black line around
The best advice is to avoid sunburn in the first place but
aloe vera can help if you are already affected, according to
some experts. Aloe is said to reduce the amount of time
burns, including sunburn, take to heal. A 2009 study by
Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Sari, Iran
showed aloe cream healed burns faster than a common
treatment cream for burns - silver sulfadiazine cream.
5. Protect Lips from Sun Hyperpigmentation with Sunscreen
As hyperpigmentation, an excess of melanin, is responsible
for many cases of black lip, protect yourself from the sun
with a good quality sunscreen lipstick or lip balm. Apply it
every day, even if the sun isn’t out, to give your lips the
protection they need from discoloration.
Sunscreen also helps stop the lips drying out, which can
cause pigmentation changes. Applying a sunscreen lip balm
regularly for three months increases lip hydration,
according to a 2010 study from the University of Murcia,
Spain. Be careful if you wear shiny lip glosses without sun
protection as these can attract the sun and increase the
chances of a discolored or dry lip according to a 2008
study from Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas.
6. Skip Caffeine to Prevent Black Lips
Caffeine depletes your body of water because it is a
diuretic, causing your skin to dry out. This can result in
blackened lips. Limit your intake of caffeine and instead
hydrate your body and your lips with plenty of water. Drink
around eight glasses a day and try a humidifier indoors to
increase the water content of the air you breathe.
7. Improve Your Black Lip with Vitamins C and E
Research shows that antioxidant vitamins C and E can
improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin, including
lips discolored by ultraviolet light. A face cream containing
vitamin C improves the condition and appearance of sun-
damaged skin, according to a 1999 study from Beeson
Aesthetic Surgery Institute, Carmel. Vitamin E and vitamin
C applied topically may also protect against UVB and UVA
light, according to a 1996 study from North Carolina
Biotechnology Center, Raleigh.
8. Remedy Black Lip with AHAs
Black lips may be due to pigmentation changes in the skin
as you get older. You may also suffer from color changes
around the mouth area. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) like
glycolic acid and lactic acid come from fruit and dairy
products and are used in skincare products to improve the
appearance of aging skin.
AHAs were applied to the faces of 74 women with sun-
damaged, aging skin in a 1996 study from Massachusetts
General Hospital, Boston and good results were achieved,
suggesting AHA creams may be beneficial for discolored lips
and skin through aging.
9. Black Lips During Pregnancy
A common cause of black lip is the hyperpigmentation
experienced in pregnancy, also called "melasma" or
Pregnant women offer get dark brown or tan patches on
the face due to the changes in hormones and the condition
is commonly known as the "mask of pregnancy".
Skin changes typically go away after pregnancy and you
can help lessen the darkness by limiting your exposure to
the sun. A 2012 study from the Disciplina de Dermatologia
do Centro de Ciências da Saúde da Universidade Positivo,
Brasil showed a majority of pregnant women in the study
didn’t apply sunscreen due to lack of habit, and were upset
when affected by melasma.
Melasma affects women of all races. But it can also affect
Studies have found that melasma is common among Latino
men. A 2009 study from Wake Forest University School of
Medicine led by Dr. Rita Pichardo found that the incidence
of melasma among Latino men, especially those from
Guatemala, can range from 7% to 36%.
10. Treat Hyperpigmentation and Black Lip Caused by
One of the causes of hyperpigmentation and black lip is
Addison’s disease, a condition where your adrenal glands
produce too few hormones which is also called "adrenal
You need to take hormones to replace those that are not
manufactured by the body - delayed-release and sustained-
release doses of hydrocortisone work more effectively that
standard tablets, according to a 2009 study from the
University of Birmingham, UK. You also need an adequate
intake of sodium, which should be increased if you are
under stress or suffering from illness.
Related: Dry Mouth-Causes and Cures / Metallic Taste in
Mouth/ Reasons for Dark Spots on Lips / Reasons for
White Spots on Lips/
Stop Night Time Congestion /Swollen Ankles-Causes and
Cures /Tight Bras and Briefs-Health Dangers /Night
Cramps/ Night Sweats/ Snoring Raises Your Risk of
Stroke/ The Importance of Drinking Enough Water
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