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Last summer I had a chunk of my eyelid removed, my first skin cancer. Even more fun, I got to go back a second time because the doctor didn’t get it all. Since then I’ve been a sunscreen fanatic. So, when my brother-in-law had skin cancer removed from his lips last week, I gasped. Lips? Why had I not thought of sun protection for my lips?

“Lips burn easier than skin because lips are so much thinner,” explained Banu Pawelek, counter manager for Lancôme at Macy’s in Horton Plaza. “Lips and under the eyes are always underestimated for sun protection. Wear SPF on your lips all the time. If your lipstick doesn’t have it, make sure you get it from your balm.

“Lancôme sells a Le Rouge Absolu Reshaping & Replenishing LipColour SPF 15 [$29],” she continued. “For summer, the Lancôme colors are bright, melony reds. In the gloss, the colors are muted, milky apricots, corals, and cool pinks.”

Pawelek also suggested Clinique’s High Impact Lip Colour with SPF 15 ($14.50) and a Shiseido product. “Shiseido sells a product with the highest SPF in our department: Shiseido Sun Protection Lip Treatment SPF 36 [$20].”

“I like the texture of Smashbox’s Limitless Long Wear Lip Gloss, which has an SPF 15 [$21],” offered a saleslady at Sephora. “TheBalm also has a lot of great colors [BalmShelter SPF 17 Tinted Gloss, $19 at Sephora].”

“For a lipstick,” she continued, “Korres has a great one with SPF 10 in it. Korres is one of our natural brands; it has no harsh chemicals [Korres Mango Butter Lipstick SPF 10, $18].”

A second Sephora saleslady, also wishing to remain nameless, was a wealth of knowledge. “If you’re a natural girl who doesn’t like a high gloss,” she offered, “you would like Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment [$22.50]. It has the slightest hint of gloss. It comes in clear, rosé, plum, and honey and has SPF 15. Pair it up with Fresh Sugar Lip Polish [$22.50]. This product exfoliates the lips ahead of the gloss or lipstick — good for the summer months. You should use it twice a week, and it’ll keep your lips smooth.

“A product that is really inexpensive,” she continued, “is the Intense Therapy Lip Balm with SPF 25 by Jack Black [$7.50]. It’s for men and women, and I can’t live without it. It has natural mint and avocado oil, and it’s the only thing that works through the dry Santa Ana conditions.”

I wondered, why don’t all lipsticks and glosses have sun protection in them? “The sunscreen doesn’t photograph well; it bounces back on the lens,” she replied. “So I don’t use it on brides when I’m doing their makeup, unless they are getting married on the beach. Also, the testing done on the products with sunscreen in them is expensive.”

Which is more popular, glosses or lipsticks?

“In Southern California, glosses are more popular,” she said. “People don’t want heavy makeup. It’s more beachy, more natural.”

We moved on. “Clinique was one of the original companies to have sunscreen,” she explained. “Their Long Last Glosswear with SPF 15 [$14] is a thicker gloss with high shine. And the color really does last long.

“The Smashbox Limitless Long Wear Lip Gloss with SPF 15 [$21] almost wears like it’s water resistant,” she touted. “It doesn’t go on heavy, but it also doesn’t wear off. You really notice it through a cocktail hour; it stays on. But don’t get caught in the wind with it — you’ll have your hair sticking to your lips.

“Urban Decay sells a Lip Primer Potion with SPF 15 [$20],” she continued. “It fills in around the border of the lip line and provides a smooth base for lipstick to go on. It’s really great for preventing ‘bleeding’ lipstick.”

The last product she highlighted was Tarte 24.7 Natural Lip Sheer SPF 15 ($16). “The Tarte is a tinted balm with mango and cocoa butters, and it gives good color. And they have fun names like Tea Time and Summer Fling.”

“Lipstick will stay longer on your lips, whereas lip gloss is something that you would use for a high sheen,” offered Terri of Empire Beauty Supply & Salon in La Jolla (858-625-9191). “A lot of people will do a lip liner with a [clear] gloss, if they want a natural look. I would say that the younger generation doesn’t really go for lipsticks; they go for glosses.”

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