Lips 101

What is there to say about lips?  They’re essential equipment for eating and speaking, of course: and whistling. And kissing. And we’d look pretty silly without them wouldn’t we?  But if you think that’s all there is to say – or know – about human lips, think again. 

Fact:  Lips haven’t always been used for kissing.
“Kissing was restricted up until very recently to areas of Asia – Southeast Asia mainly and Europe until the conquests in the 1500’s,” says Dr. Baughn Bryant, professor of Anthropology at Texas A&M University.  “No one in the New World kissed, no one in Oceania kissed, the Eskimos didn’t kiss, people in sub-Saharan Africa didn’t kiss.”  According to Professor Bryant, kissing started in India and spread slowly after soldiers under the command of Alexander the Great brought the custom home with them.

Fact:  Lips don’t sweat.
Lips don’t have sweat glands.  Since sweat glands also help keep the skin moisturized, that means lips tend to dry out faster than other parts of the body.

Fact:  Blood gives your lips their reddish hue.
The skin of the lips is thinner than skin elsewhere on the body, consisting of three to five cellular layers instead of up to 16.  Thinner skin means it’s easier to see the blood vessels underneath.  Of course, this effect is more pronounced I people with light colored skin.

Fact:  Lips get thinner as you age.
Lips get their shape in part from collagen.  But as the body ages, the body produces less of this critical protein, and the lips start to lose their plumpness.  Another factor is ultraviolet light from the sun.  So one way to help protect them from the sun is by wearing a lipstick or lip balm with sunscreen.