The winter months often bring conversation around dry skin and ways to adjust your skincare routine to combat the moisture loss that we experience with cold weather. A less common topic, but very common occurrence, is how to effectively address chronically chapped lips.
This question has come up a lot this year – most likely due to the colder than normal temperatures we have experienced. The truth is, most products marketed for chapped lips will only provide temporary relief and aren’t actually providing your lips with the nourishment that they need to recover and stay healthy. Additionally, daily habits year-round will help prevent dryness if you seem to struggle with chapped lips every year.
put down the carmex, vaseline, and chapstick
I’m going to start with the most important – and possibly most controversial – piece of advice. I find that starting with the habit to break is helpful, kind of like ripping off a band-aid. Let’s just get it over with, shall we?
You really need to put down the Carmex, Vaseline, and Chapstick. They may feel nice upon application but these products are not truly solving your issue, which is why your dry lips eventually become chronically chapped lips.
Little fact for you – in order to compliantly use the word “protect”, “heal” or “treat”, the FDA requires that you use an ingredient that has been approved as an ‘active ingredient’ that addresses a specific condition. This allows these products to be marketed as “Over The Counter Drugs”. For the above products, you’ll typically find the main active ingredients to be petroleum.
Petroleum is one of the ingredients that I use alongside the philosophy of “just because it is natural, doesn’t always make it good for you”. If you know me, you know that I am ‘Team Natural’ – but I also advocate for research, because the correlation that ‘natural = safe’ is not always black and white.
what makes petroleum so bad?
Petroleum is a by-product of crude oil, and while it is natural – the refinement process leaves behind questionable impurities that, in my opinion, really don’t deserve a place on our bodies. Petroleum is commonly used because it is defined by the FDA as a “protectant” which means just that – it provides a superficial barrier on the skin to protect it.
While it is creating a barrier, which can be helpful to aid in the recovery of the skin, petroleum is not providing any nutrients to the skin, which is important when addressing chronically chapped lips. Instead, the ingredient sits on the surface, like a piece of plastic wrap, giving you no true benefit. Do you ever wonder why you are addicted to your Carmex? This is why. So while it feels nice in the moment, it isn’t helping you in the long run.
It is also important to note – for lipstick lovers such as I, you may consider checking the ingredients of your lip products. Unfortunately, they can also be a contributor to your chronically chapped lips.
ingredients that truly soothe chronically chapped lips
When looking for products to address dry and chapped lips, you want to seek out natural plant butters, waxes, and oils such as Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, and Beeswax. Additionally, try to avoid anything too stimulating – camphor and peppermint can provide coolness but in a leave-on product can sometimes further aggravate irritated lips.
While the concept of “protection” is an important part of remedying chronically chapped lips, you want to be sure to apply the right type of moisture and use ingredients that create a barrier while also feeding your skin.
Choosing the right product and ingredient for the concern is also important. If your lips are becoming dry and irritated, lighter oils like Coconut are great to use. However, if your lips are painful and cracking, layering light oils underneath heavier textures such as Shea Butter or Beeswax will nourish your skin while also creating a barrier to the elements that are continuing to dry them out.
don’t forget to exfoliate
Just as I’ve talked about exfoliation being an important part in my skincare routine, your lips are not exempt from this treatment. Weekly exfoliation throughout the year will keep your lips healthy and prevent chapping and dryness.
Truth be told – I do very little DIYing. My DIY projects must be quick, only include a few ingredients, and need no fancy tools. Creating a lip scrub meets all of those requirements and is far more cost effective than purchasing one from the store.
- 1 tsp raw sugar
- 1 tsp your favorite plant oil (I love this Avocado Oil)
- 1-2 drops of Peppermint Oil (I only use Young Living!)
Mix the ingredients in a dish until it creates a paste. You can adjust the ratio of sugar:oil based on your preferences. Once mixed, application is simple:
- Scoop a small amount of scrub onto your finger
- Dab onto the lips
- Rub your lips together as you do when you’ve applied lip balm.
- Continue to rub lips until you can’t feel the sugar.
- Lick off, repeat if needed.
It is a simple, quick, and tasty way to slough away dead skin cells that can cause dry or chronically chapped lips.
never skip your daily moisturizer
Again, many of the rules that I preach about in a healthy skin routine also apply to lip care. After all, your lips are skin.
To address and prevent dryness, you want to moisturize your lips daily, as regularly as needed. I have stashed away many lip products that I love – and while I don’t have a ‘holy grail’ lip moisturizer, I do have some preferences.
At night or after exfoliating I reach for ointment-like products. Young Living’s Rose Ointment and Osmia’s Lip Repair are 2 products that are consistently in my rotation and I use them based on what I need.
Osmia’s Lip Repair is a waxed-based balm that contains Manuka Honey for intense nourishment and a strong barrier. I tend towards this option when my lips are cracked and I apply a light layer of Organic Shea Butter underneath to add extra moisture. As a nightly treatment for prevention, I stick towards a lighter ointment such as the Rose Ointment – which is one of my all-time favorite balms.
It goes without saying that if you’re dehydrated, it can cause your skin and lips to feel dry too. You’ve heard it before, but drinking adequate amounts of water is crucial for overall health, especially when you’re struggling with chronically dry lips or skin.
Another pitfall of dehydrated lips is that you may find yourself continually licking your lips for a moment of relief. In cold weather especially, that only further dehydrates your skin because the problem isn’t just a lack of moisture – it is also a lack of moisture retention.
Drinking water throughout the day directly hydrates the lips as the water reduces dryness in your mouth. At the same time, keeping your lips hydrated with a lightweight lip balm will prevent dryness and calm irritation from chapped lips. For daytime, I prefer products that feel lightweight and can be quickly applied from a tube. Kopari’s Lip Love, Young Living’s Lavender Lip Balm, and Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm are some of my top picks.
To make it easy, stash a tube of your favorite (and good for you) lip moisturizer in your purse, gym bag, car, desk, and anywhere else you may find yourself so that they are always within a quick reach.
And don’t forget to keep a water bottle close as well.
Are chronically chapped lips a struggle for you?
Do you have a quick tip for soothing dry lips?
Let me know in the comments section – I’d love to hear from you!
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