What is a Sun Mustache? Do You Have One? How to Get Rid of Them?

Sep. 20, 2020
Have you ever come home from a day in the sun and noticed that your upper lip is slightly darker than the rest of your face? This isn’t your eyes playing tricks on you, it’s actually a real thing. If you’ve noted a shadow on your upper lip, you may have a sun mustache. 
It’s no secret that some parts of our skin tan more easily than others, and we don’t always tan the way we want to! Let’s dive into what a sun mustache is, and how you can get rid of yours. 
What is a sun mustache?
Even those who use sunscreen every day can find themselves with a darker upper lip. Unfortunately, the upper lip is a super commonplace to be rendered unprotected by sun cream purely because it’s what you might call a “high-traffic” area on the face. When we’re outside in the sun, we may eat, drink, sweat, and touch our faces hundreds of times throughout the day. Each time we do, a small amount of that sunscreen is being wiped off of our faces. Simply put, we gradually wipe the sunscreen off of our upper lip, meaning that it is less protected than the rest of our face. It’s as simple as that!
Other than simply wiping sun cream off your face, there is one other cause of an uneven skin tone and excess melanin production: pregnancy. This process is called melasma (otherwise known as the "pregnancy mask"), and it can contribute to the darkening of the skin above your lip and other areas of your face. 
Of course, if you’re not pregnant, what can you do to protect your upper lip from the sun? 
How do I prevent a sun mustache, or get rid of one?
While a darker upper lip may be a stressful thing to discover on holidays, it’s not the end of the world. And it’s totally preventable! One of the most simple and effective ways of ensuring your skin is protected is to wear a good SPF every day. Yes, even on cloudy days! Dermatologists have noted that even on a cloudy day, our skin can absorb up to 80% of the sun’s rays. 
Wearing SPF every day can also help to prevent the effects of aging, so a little sunscreen each day can reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Thankfully, this is a really easy habit to get into, and if you’re concerned about getting a darker upper lip, you may want to layer up on SPF a little more frequently than the rest of your face. 
How to prevent sun mustache?
While there are a ton of great products out there that will help lighten your sun mustache (which we’ll get into in a moment), the biggest thing you need to do if you get this problem in the summer is just to be diligent. Keep a small bottle of sunscreen or your SPF-containing makeup in your bag and reapply it once every few hours, or after meals. Essentially, if you’ve wiped or touched your mouth a lot, it’s time to reapply, especially if you’re spending the day out in the sun. 
How to get rid of a sun mustache?
  • Lightening creams 
If you’re already seeing brown spots or darker skin on your upper lip, you’ll want to use a product that contains hydroquinone. Products like Paula’s Choice Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser is designed to improve the appearance of discoloration and darkening, without bleaching the skin. 
Products like this are most effective when used consistently, so don’t expect immediate results. Remember that your skin isn’t dirty – the tan goes layers deep, so you need to be patient. However, if used every day after cleansing, products like this can offer great benefits. 
It should be noted, though, that this lotion (and others like it) contains 7% glycolic acid. This ingredient can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun, so make sure you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen along with this lotion. 
  • Vitamin C 
You can also use products that generally brighten your skin; anything that contains licorice extract, vitamin C, and azelaic acid can be helpful. Facetheory’s super-popular Regena-C Moisturiser M4 with Retinol, Vitamin C, and Hyaluronic Acid is formulated to shield your skin against environmental damage, encourage skin-cell renewal, prevent hyperpigmentation, and protect against free radicals. It’s alcohol-free, vegan, paraben-free, silicone-free, and sulfate-free. 
Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster is also well-reviewed and for a good reason. It features a concentration of 15% stabilized vitamin c to help brighten your skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It is also designed to ward off the effects of environmental stressors and improve an uneven skin tone. This should also be used with a good SPF to protect the skin against further discoloration.
Your skin should be your top priority when leaving the house; a thorough and consistent skincare regimen can help to prevent early aging and skin cancer. There are many types of sunscreen to choose from for different skin types, at varying degrees of sun protection factor (hint: go as high as possible!). So take a look online, figure out which sunblock would best suit your skin, and get applying!
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