Why is my upper lip skin (yes, skin, not hair) so dark, and what can I do to fix it?
August 2, 2011 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Why is my upper lip skin (yes, skin, not hair) so dark, and what can I do to fix it?

I do have some hair there, but it is very fine and very blond - nearly white. It is not the hair that is making the area look dark, because sometimes I'll wax or whatever and there will be no hair whatsoever, yet it's still dark.

I have googled and found some people saying that it could be caused by the sun, so (over 2 years ago) I began using a moisturizer with SPF daily. No dice. Still dark.

Does anyone have any recommendations for what I can do about this?

Did anyone watch the Hills and remember people criticizing LC for having a "mustache"? I've always felt she must have the same problem as me because Lord knows that girl puts work into her appearance - I don't believe she would be filmed for an entire season without remembering to wax her 'stache
posted by coupdefoudre to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total)
Are you on The Pill? One of the side effects can be dark marks on your skin. (acanthosis nigricans, but it's rare)
posted by unixrat at 7:37 AM on August 2, 2011

Seconding unixrat. Getting too much sun there if you're on contraceptives can do that. I don't know that it's the same condition as A. Nigricans, but maybe so.
posted by resurrexit at 8:26 AM on August 2, 2011

Do you wax your upper lip? Have you had laser hair removal there? Both of those can cause hyperpigmentation.
posted by HotToddy at 8:39 AM on August 2, 2011

Whoops, just saw where you said that you do wax. I bet that's the reason.
posted by HotToddy at 8:40 AM on August 2, 2011

Response by poster: Well, I haven't waxed in probably a year - do you think it could have that long-lasting effects?
No pill, nuvaring instead - but only been on it a year, and this lip thing has been going on longer than that. Hmmm....
posted by coupdefoudre at 9:20 AM on August 2, 2011

It might not be because you wax. I've had the same issue since I was a tiny child, and it seems to me to be a thing that just is for some people (particularly women of colour like me). My armpits are also dark. It sucks, but oh well - no one is perfect. It might not be as bad as you think, either. I've finally decided my lip looks worse to me than to anyone else. But whenever I wake up and feel like I just can't be seen, I use concealer.

It might help to see a dermatologist if it really bothers you. Otherwise, just don't go on The Hills?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:32 AM on August 2, 2011

This happened to my mom when she was in her late thirties. It was hormones/ Melasma. She never waxed or bleached. Her dermatologist told her to wear sunscreen (she never had until then) and it got much better. I realize you already wear sunblock. I think spf comes off of the upper lip area very easily because that is typically where people sweat.

Just as a note: I get this very slightly, too. I think the difference between me and my mom isn't so much that I've worn sunscreen my entire adult life--but that I've completely avoided the sun.
posted by marimeko at 10:30 AM on August 2, 2011

I got this when I was on NuvaRing, too--it was, in fact, pointed out to me by my GYN during a check up (I had never noticed it before that, so thanks a lot, Doc). Apparently it is worse if you spend much time outdoors, which I do. Using sunblock every day never seemed to help much. The Ring also gave me a very faint linea negra, that dark line that some pregnant ladies get below their belly button. I think the combination of hormones plus very fair skin was just enough to make this noticeable, on me. Luckily, nobody else has ever been able to really notice the upper lip thing (and I've asked!). And a little bit of concealer is enough to cover it if it's bothering you.
posted by Jemstar at 10:47 AM on August 2, 2011

A dermatologist can help. Here's an overview of current skin bleaching options. (The article is affiliated with a brand of face creams, but it's not bad info.) It sounds like you may benefit from a combination of skin bleaching/brightening and exfoliation (AHAs, lactic acid or retinol, not at home in the shower with a washcloth).

It's not silly to go to a dermatologist with a concern like this.
posted by purpleclover at 12:23 PM on August 2, 2011

I noticed the same thing way back as a teenager...and at that time I'd never done any hair removal or been on any hormonal BC. I obsessed over it for a few weeks, asked all my friends and when they told me they didn't notice it, I forgot about it and carried on with my life.

I started looking at other women and noticed that a lot of them have slightly darker skin on their upper lips, too. It may not be as noticeable as you think it is.
posted by vanitas at 2:00 PM on August 2, 2011

This is an area that can get dark during pregnancy (part of the "mask of pregnancy"), so nthing the hormonal connection.
posted by wyzewoman at 2:48 PM on August 2, 2011

I have this same problem and have been on the pill for about 8 years and am also fair skinned. Sunscreen helps, as my darkness is similar to being freckled, however the upper lip skin somehow freckles more densely than the rest of my face.
YES I watched the Hills obsessively for years and never told anyone except my best friend because I knew she wouldn't reject me for it!
posted by WeekendJen at 9:53 AM on August 3, 2011

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