Winter Lip Care Tips
Initially, I was planning to write a post on my current skincare routine and stick in a paragraph or two about lip care. However, after busting open my dry ass lips biting into a double cheeseburger last week, I figured that lip care deserves its own spotlight.
Importance of Lip Care
Lips go through a lot in a day, but they usually don’t get nearly as much TLC as the rest of the face does. The ultra-thin skin in your lips is super sensitive and prone to drying, even more so if you tend to breathe through your mouth, lick and pick your lips or rock a matte lipstick. It’s worse during the colder months when the weather is harsh and dry, especially in windier areas. And did you know your lips dry out crazy fast when you’re sick? I didn’t.
No one wants cracked and crusty lips; they’re uncomfortable, distracting and, at worst, painful. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to revive my lips back to its pre-flu softness. So, if you struggle with chapped lips or want to prevent them from drying out, here are a few tips to help your lips survive even the harshest and coldest of winters.
How to Care for Lips + Prevent Drying and Cracking
Avoid picking and licking your lips. Picking damages the already fragile skin barrier and can cause bleeding. Slathering it with saliva doesn’t help either. Seriously, don’t lick your lips. It’ll only make it worse since your saliva is meant to break down food and start the digestion process, not moisturize.
Drink plenty of water. Unlike saliva, water will hydrate your lips (and your body and skin, as well). A friend told me that the water that lingers on your lips after a sip will help moisturize your lips, too. I’m not sure if it’s entirely true, but I do know it’s better than saliva.
Use a good quality lip balm that’s free of irritating ingredients. Lip balms with SPF are a plus because sun exposure can damage the skin on your lips! Find a lip balm that’s made with nourishing butters or oils that can hydrate and lock in the moisture to prevent drying. Be sure to apply multiple times throughout the day (I like to use mine during my skincare routine and after drinking water).
Exfoliate once a week. This step is key because it removes all the dead skin that you might be tempted to pick at later on. You can buy lip scrubs or make them yourself; you can even use a toothbrush. The important thing is that you scrub your lips gently to avoid irritating the area and immediately follow up with a lip balm. And yes, there is such a thing as over-exfoliating.
If you can help it, breathe through your nose. Breathing through your mouth for long periods of time can cause both your lips and mouth to dry out. If you can’t breathe through your nose, consider getting a humidifier or seeing a doctor.
Protect your lips at night. Lips are more susceptible to drying while you sleep, especially if you have the AC on blast, drool or sleep with your mouth open. Before going to bed, apply a lip mask or treatment to prevent your lips from getting chapped overnight.
And if these tips came too late for you and your lips are as dry as the Sahara Desert, don’t worry – I gotchu.
How to Heal Chapped Lips
Continue following the steps above. Gentle exfoliation, hydration, and protection are all essential for quickly and effectively repairing your lips.
Avoid foods that’ll irritate the lips. This includes citrus fruits (and anything acidic), salty foods and, sadly, spicy foods.
Upgrade your lip balm. If your previous lip balm wasn’t working for you, there’s a chance that the product contained ingredients that actually made your lips worse. Avoid lip balms with added fragrances, synthetic colors and common irritants, along with products that claim to be ~cooling~ as those tend to contain menthol. Try lip balms that have beeswax (if you’re not allergic) or shea butter, which are not only hydrating but can also seal in moisture. In extreme cases, try a lip balm that contains ceramides, an ingredient that can repair the skin barrier.
For sore lips that need soothing, press a slice of cucumber on it for a few minutes. Since cucumbers are 90 percent water, it can also hydrate your lips.
Try using a humidifier. It puts moisture into the air and, therefore, your skin and lips. Plus, it helps with nasal congestion!
If the chapped lips don’t go away, or if they’re causing you a lot of pain and discomfort, I highly recommend seeing a medical professional. There is a chance that it could be an infection.
There are hundreds of lip care product out there that, like with skincare products, contain ingredients that work better for some than for others. For example, petroleum jelly is a mega-popular lip balm ingredient because it seals the moisture in and provides instant relief. But while the FDA declared it safe, it doesn’t necessarily nourish anything.
Still, petrolatum provides a protective barrier, and I know many people who swear by it – and for that reason, three of the products listed below will contain petrolatum jelly. Two products also contain hints of peppermint oil which is often used for soothing but can also (ironically) cause irritation in larger amounts. I’ll be sure to indicate which ones do, just in case, but I also suggest reading ingredients lists in general to get a clearer picture of what’s in the products you use.
Alrighty, I’ve rambled on long enough. Here are some of the lip care products that I’ve used and loved at some point. Most, if not all, are paraben and sulfate-free, and the ones I’m currently using will have an asterisk (*).
Jack Black’s Intense Therapy Lip Balm ($7; 40.2% petrolatum) – contains beeswax, avocado oil, and shea butter to moisturize the lips, antioxidants to protect them from free radical damage, and sun protection
*LUSH’s Honey Trap ($11; contains peppermint oil) – made with a ton of moisturizing ingredients like beeswax, olive oil, shea butter, honey, and the list goes on and on
*Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment ($24) – contains jojoba, avocado and other nourishing oils to hydrate lips while sugar naturally retains the moisture; also has antioxidants and sun protection
Homemade Lip Scrubs (cost varies) – be wary of DIY lip scrubs you find online and stick to simple recipes, made with good quality organic ingredients and not "essential" oils and extracts that you’re not entirely comfortable or familiar with
*LUSH’s Lip Scrub ($11; contains peppermint oil) – castor sugar sloughs away at dead skin while honey and jojoba oil moisturize
Fresh’s Sugar Lip Polish ($24) – made with brown sugar crystals to remove flaky skin, along with jojoba oil and shea butter to hydrate and protect (this one is actually my favorite, so I’ll repurchase once the LUSH scrub runs out)
Overnight Lip Treatments
Vaseline ($4; 100% petrolatum) – seals in moisture and protect lips from cracking; also offers lip-specific products but additional ingredients are mostly artificial colors
Aquaphor – ($11; 41% petrolatum) – similar to Vaseline in terms of sealing and protecting; contains glycerin for moisture; also has a lip product available which I believe is actually petrolatum-free
*Laneige Lip Mask ($20) – made with an antioxidant-rich blend of berry extracts to nourish lips and hyaluronic acid to seal in moisture; works overnight to reduce flakiness for softer lips in the morning; has a cute applicator (that I can’t be bothered to use) and way more ingredients than a lip product should have; I feel that this is a hit or miss product, but as gimmicky as it sounds, it certainly saved my lips this winter.
I tried to include products at various price points because – let’s face it – there are better things to spend $68 plus tax on. Besides, when it comes down to it, your habits will play a larger role in how your lips look and feel.
Hope you found these tips helpful! And if you have any questions or would like to add anything, I would love to hear them!