8 Unbelievable Facts About Your Lips

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–and know–about human lips, you’re in for a big surprise. Just take a look at our list of 8 fascinating facts about lips:

FACT: Your lips are unique.

Many animal species have lips, of course. But only human lips have such a distinct border between the pinkish, reddish parts and the surrounding skin, according to LiveScience. Scientists call this the “vermilion border.”

FACT: That fleshy bump in the middle of your upper lip has a name.

In fact, that fleshy bump has a few names, including procheilion, labial tubercle, or tuberculum labii superioris.

FACT: Lips haven’t always been used for kissing.

“Kissing was very restricted up until very recently to areas of Asia–Southeast Asia mainly–and Europe until the conquests in the 1500s,” Dr. Vaughn Bryant, professor of anthropology at Texas A&M University, said in a written statement to HuffingtonPost. “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 Bryant, kissing started in India and spread slowly after soldiers under the command of Alexander the Great brought the custom home with them.

FACT: It takes many muscles to pucker up.

To pucker up for a kiss – or to play that trumpet – you have to contract your orbicularis oris. Scientists used to think the orbicularis oris was a single sphincter muscle inside the lips. But now we know it’s actually a complex of four muscles.

FACT: Lips can become paralysed.

People suffering from a form of facial paralysis known as Bell’s palsy can have trouble smiling or frowning. The condition is caused by damage to the facial nerves. Fortunately, people with Bell’s palsy generally recover with time.

FACT: Lips don’t sweat.

No wonder–lips simply 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 in people with light-coloured 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, dermatologist Dr. D’Anne Kleinsmith told Real Simple. Another factor, she said, is ultraviolet light from sunlight. “One way to help preserve the fullness of your lips is to protect them from the sun by wearing a lipstick or lip balm with sunscreen,” Dr. Kleinsmith told the magazine.

Reference: Huffingtonpost

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