Retinol or Tretinoin on Lips – Risks & Safer Alternatives

Using Retinol on Lips - Risks & Safer Alternatives
Using Retinol on Lips – Risks & Safer Alternatives

In skincare, retinol has become the holy grail for treating fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, and aging skin.

However, can we also use retinol on aging lips? Is it safe?

Retinol has many side effects that can be too harsh for your lips, so when considering its use, you should be very cautious. 

Should You Use Retinol On Lips

I do not recommend that you use retinol on your lips unless you are being guided by your dermatologist or a skincare professional. 

Retinol is an intense treatment that may cause your lips to become too dry if applied directly on the lips.

Related Article – Vitamin E Oil for Dark Lips: Benefits, Risks & How to Use

Side Effects of Retinol on Lips

Remember that the skin of your lips is already very thin and sensitive. Getting retinol on it may result in your lips becoming:

  • Very dry,
  • Irritated,
  • Chapped and peeling.
  • You can even get a retinol burn on your lips!

These conditions will ultimately do more harm than good. 

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How To Approach Using Retinol On Lips

The first step I recommend taking when considering the use of retinol on your lips is to seek the advice of a dermatologist or skin care professional. 

They will be able to assess your lips and determine whether they can withstand the treatment. These professionals will also be able to recommend the most appropriate concentration and formulation of retinol for your lips based on your skin type and its reaction. 

By doing this, you will be able to prevent or at least anticipate many of the side effects while avoiding further injury to your lips. 

If retinol cannot be used on your lips, they will also be able to recommend suitable and effective alternatives. 

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Better & Safer Alternative Ingredients For Lips

When it comes to lip care, the simplest things can do great things. Your lips are thin and the cells easily and quickly turnover (faster than the skin cells on your face).

The thinness of the skin also means that moisturizers and other ingredients are absorbed faster and deeper, making them more effective. 

If you have aging or dark lips, here are a few safe ingredients that can make a lot of difference:

Looking for lip products with a combination of these ingredients will be your best bet.

You will not find them all in one product, but just a few will make tons of difference for your lips regarding hydration, treatment, and protection. You will have softer, pinker, and healthier lips after a few days or weeks of consistent treatment. 

Related Article – 6 Best Lip Balms to Lighten Dark Lips -As Per Experts

Recommended Alternative Products For Lips That Are Safer Than Retinol

Many products have been designed to treat your lips whether they are just dry and cracked, or whether they are dark or aged. 

These usually include lip balms, masks, and scrubs. People generally make their choice based on the condition of their lips and the ingredients that can safely treat them. 

Here are a few great ones that are safer for your lips than retinol:

1- Handmade Heroes Coconut Sorbet Lip Scrub

Exfoliating is one of the things many of us do not realize makes a considerable difference in the way our lips look and feel.

Exfoliating regularly (but not too much) removes dead skin cells from the slips, boosts circulation, smoothens the lips, and even plumps the lips.

Using a good scrub the right way is key! This coconut lip scrub is all-natural, gentle, and great for dry cracked lips.

Click here to get the Heroes Coconut Sorbet Lip Scrub on Amazon.

Related Article – How Often to Use a Lip Scrub & Tips How to use Lip Scrubs

2- LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask

For your lips to be smooth, pink, plump, and healthy, they need to be well moisturized. You can treat darkness and dryness with various ingredients (both natural and cosmetic) provided that they will not cause damaging side effects.

This lip mask contains antioxidants and Vitamin C from berry extracts which help to prevent premature aging of the lips.

Vitamin C also helps to lighten the lips. It also contains Coconut oil, Murumuru, and Shea butter which provide lasting hydration and moisture. 

Click here to see the LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask on Amazon. 

3- Paula’s Choice Lip Booster

This lip booster is a general lip treatment for dryness, fine lines and wrinkles, and even darkness. It contains hyaluronic acid filling spheres which hydrate the lips and plumps them.

Peptides are also present which diminish the appearance of fine lines. And finally, squalane restores softness and suppleness to the skin. Over time, this treatment resurfaces the lips, making them pinker and healthier. 

Click here to check out Paula’s Choice Lip Booster on Amazon.

Other great ways to lighten dark lips:

Rose Water for Pink & Lighter Lips – Benefits & Is it Safe

Kojic Acid to Lighten Dark Lips – Is it Safe & How to Use

Lemon for Lips: Is it Safe, How to use & Benefits

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to prevent retinol from getting on your lips during your skincare application?

Application technique is everything. 

Dermatologists recommend that you apply a generous coating of your favorite lip balm after you have cleansed your face and lips. I agree!

When your lips have been covered in lip balm (even the edges and corners), you can apply your retinol product. A great way to apply it is using the 13-dot technique.

A dermatologist, Dr. Sam Bunting, invented this technique to help people apply their products properly.

There are three dots on the forehead, three dots down each cheekbone, one dot on either side of the nose, and two dots on the chin. Then, any residue left on the hands is used to blend the product in.

By using this technique, you also avoid smearing any on your lips. 

How do you treat retinol burns on the lips?

Retinol burn will heal as your skin heals, but you will need to avoid using retinol while you treat it. 

Here are some things you can do:

  • If your lips have a retinol burn that is red, swollen, and painful, you can gently put some ice on the area or a cool compress to soothe the skin. 
  • Avoid using makeup, or harsh products on your lips until healed. 
  • Keep your lip care routine simple. Just cleanse with clean, cool water and moisturize your lips with a hypoallergenic lip balm that has SPF. 
  • You can use OTC 1% Hydrocortisone cream or ointment on the area that is burned, but not for longer than 2 weeks as this thins out your skin. 

A retinol burn on your lips can present with dryness, peeling, itching, pain, and even redness and/or swelling.  


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Retinol Burn: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention   

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