Chronic dry lips is a condition I've dealt with for as long as I can remember. Nothing I use, do, or try works for more than a day or two (and I try a lot of products). Name one lip product, and I’ve probably tried it, ran to the store even, bolstered by my hopes it'll cure this persistent, annoying problem. Other people seem to fare just fine, no excessive dryness or cracking to be seen, and that's not even considering what time of year it is. Bring winter into the mix and yeah, I'm done for.
Meet the Expert
Is this something you're dealing with too? It must be, as I'm sure most people dealing with smooth, normal lips don't spend too much time pondering why. It just is the way it is, right? Or so I thought. It didn't make sense to me. I've tried it all. Lip scrubs? Check. Medicated balms? Check. Masks? Check. Serums? Check. Sleeping Masks? Check. (There are a lot of different balms on the market, who knew?) Rather than accept defeat, I consulted two experts—Susan Ciminelli and Natarsha Bimson—to get answers once and for all.
Scroll through to see what they have to say about curing my dry lips for good!
Understand the Problem
The first step to correcting a problem is to understand it. “The skin of your lips, like the skin around your eye area, is different from the rest of your skin because it doesn’t have oil glands,” Bimson says. “Unlike the eye area, which draws the oil from your face in, the lips do not.” That partially explains why lips get dry, but still, why is it so difficult to tackle the peeling and cracked condition?
Identify Lip Irritants
“Alcoholic beverages and coffee dehydrate the skin,” Ciminelli says, “so don't let artificial ingredients from food or beverage ever touch your lips.” Just like the rest of your skin, your lips react to the chemicals. But since the skin on your lips is more delicate than the skin on your face and body, dehydrating chemicals affect your lips faster.
Use a Straw
If you can't quite give up the cold brew or that occasional cocktail with dinner, use a straw to avoid drying out your lips. It's the best way to avoid potential irritation as these types of beverages can be really dehydrating, which can lead to excessive cracks and aches. There are even fancy reusable straws on the market today, including a great collapsible straw, FinalStraw ($25), that's easy to carry around.
Take Weather into Consideration
Ciminelli says weather conditions like harsh winds and the sun’s drying rays create a recipe for disaster you might not recognize at first. Isn't that true, and it's not really something we think about, is it? When it's cold, like the dead of winter, and winds are harsh, don't your lips get extra sensitive? They burn and peel and bleed, which is why extra heavy-duty ingredients are essential during this time of year.
As for summer, your lips dry out because the sun is hot. Who would've thought? Just as your skin burns if not protected properly, your lips can get sunburned too. This means you need to use SPF on your lips.
Stop Licking Your Lips
Bimson attributes dry lips to a combination of lip licking and mouth-breathing. “Excessive lip licking can cause a form of dermatitis (skin inflammation) commonly referred to as ‘windburn,’ which is inflamed, sore, extremely chapped lips.”
Even if you don’t consider your lip-licking “excessive,” it can very well be a subconscious thing. You don't even know it's an issue! Which, come to think of it, is probably contributing to my dry lips. In that case, take measures to curb the habit, and think of ways to remind yourself of the negatives involved with lip-licking, especially when you're doing something monotonous. For example, I spend a lot of time at a computer and find myself licking my lips. It's never been pointed out to me but upon hearing Bimson's advice, I've started to become conscious of how bad the habit is.
Use Moisturizing Products
One of the most common ingredients in lip products is petroleum. This is fine if your lips are soft, smooth, and supple but not ideal if they’re chapped. “Petrochemical lip products are great at preventing moisture loss but not so great at moisturizing lips that are already dry,” Bimson says, “Castor oil is another ingredient commonly used in lip products (especially lipstick) that’s great at drawing oil, so it can also have a drying effect.” Check the ingredients list before you apply anything to your lips.
When you need a product to smooth out cracked lips and treat the cold sores that accompany them, Blistex can be your go-to. It contains four different medications to restore moisture and heal damaged lips.
Hydrate with Essential Oils
Ciminelli recommends finding products that are loaded with skin-nourishing vitamins, minerals, and essential oils. The reason essential oils work so well in lip care is because they're made to nourish and protect. Super-soothing vitamin E not only smooths out cracked lips but also protects them from environmental aggressors. We always make sure we have this lip balm (or one similar) in our bags before we face the cold weather.
Treat Cracked Lips with Skin Care
You know the idea behind treating your neck like the rest of your face? It essentially means we should treat our neck like we do our face, and bring everyday skincare down to our neck, an oft-forgotten area that needs love too. We spend so much time focused on skincare on our faces that it's easy to forget a majority of the creams and serums can also work double duty for other problem spots.
Use this same idea when it comes to lip care as well. Tap into the same skincare products you use on your face and neck to moisturize your lips (Just make sure they contain soothing ingredients before applying). Also, the skin under your eyes is just as fragile as your lips, so you can also use your eye cream, as it makes a great non-drying moisturizer for chapped lips. Plus, it's already known as a popular dry-lip remedy.