If you live in an area where the air hurts your face for six months out of the year, then you are all too familiar with the pain of chapped lips. Winter isn’t the only time cracked lips occur, though. They can be a problem any time of the year, even if you live in a warmer climate.
If not treated with some type of lip balm — natural or store-bought — chapped lips can turn into bleeding, cracked lip.
You probably know how that feels, but do you know what causes it? Read on to find out the reasons lips chap and what types of natural remedies you can try at home to make your lips smooth and moisturized.
Why Do Our Lips Get Chapped
The thinnest skin of the body is on one of the most used body part – the lips. The thin skin is easily damaged because the lips don’t have pores that produce sweat or oil to stay hydrated. It’s up to you to keep your lips moisturized and avoid things that dry them out.
In warmer months, the moisture in the air can help hydrate your lips. That’s why chapped lips are more prevalent in the winter when there is less moisture in the air. However, the humidity of the summer can cause your lips to dry out from too much moisture, especially if you often swim or spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun.
Here are some other factors that can dry your lips out:
Dehydration is the cause for many skin conditions, including dry skin and chapped lips. Experts recommend drinking eight glasses of water every day and most people don’t drink even half of that. Instead, they opt for caffeinated drinks like soda or coffee. Caffeinated beverages are fine, in moderation. But drinking more water can help soothe dry skin and help a multitude of other body ailments.
You already know that cold weather is a big contributor to dry lips due to the lack of moisture in the air. But you might be surprised to know that prolonged exposure to the sun can result in chapped lips, too. The UV rays are damaging to skin, especially the thinner skin of the lips.
Wearing scarves in the winter and keeping a humidifier on in your home during the winter can help ease dry lips caused by the exposure to the cold winter air.
Lip balm with at least SPF 15 should be used any time you go outside, regardless of the season.
If you are on airplanes frequently, the air on the planes can also cause dry lips due to low moisture and high altitude. Pack moisturizing lip balm and drink water.
Constant Lip Licking
When your lips are dry, your instinct is to lick them. The saliva from your mouth is useful for breaking down food to make digestion easier. But that same saliva harms the skin that protects your lips. Instead of moisturizing your lips, you’re actually removing moisture instead.
Replace lip licking with sips of water. Hydration helps prevent dry lips in the first place.
Toothpaste and even some lip balms can contain lip-irritating chemicals. Look for natural lip balm and toothpaste or create your own.
Salty foods can irritate dry lips. You should avoid sweet citrus flavors as well. The healthy fats found in foods such as walnuts, meats and coconut oil can help prevent lips from chapping.
Lack of Vitamins
Vitamins found in fruits and vegetables can help prevent nutrient deficiencies that lead to dry lips. If you notice cracks on the sides of your mouth, increase your vitamin B and zinc intakes.
There are a few simple steps you can take to help prevent chapped lips:
- Drink more water
- Use lip balm
- Use a home humidifier
- Wear scarfs in the winter
Keep reading to find more detailed remedies for dry lips.
How to Care for Your Lips Naturally
Drugstore lip products can contain harsh chemicals that dry your lips out even more instead of making your chapped lips better.
You should avoid lip products with ingredients that include: petroleum, parabens (a preservative) and artificial flavors.
The ingredients of artificial flavors typically aren’t included on the packaging and they aren’t required!
Even sunscreens with SPF can be full of allergens such as oxybenzone and homosalate. Here are 5 natural remedies for dry lips, including a DIY lip balm:
Aloe vera plants can be found at any garden store or nursery. Simply squeeze the gel from the aloe vera leaf and apply to your lips.
The aloe vera is a natural anti-inflammatory. It will helps smooth dry lips. It’s also great for easing sunburn and insect bites.
The pure coconut oil can be slathered over your lips.
Rose Water and Honey
Rose water and honey both have moisturizing properties. They can also help prevent the skin from cracking.
Mix the two natural ingredients together. Spread onto lips for 10 to 20 minutes and wash off with cool water.
DIY Lip Balm
The internet is full of DIY lip balm recipes and tutorials. 20 such recipes can be found here:
One super simple DIY lip balm requires a packet of iced tea by Crystal Light and a scoop of Vaseline. You can make the lip balm in less than five minutes. All you need to do is brew the tea, mix with vaseline and apply to your chapped lips after the mixture cools.
Honey and Lemon Exfoliator
Regularly exfoliating your lips is a great way to remove excess dead skin from your lips so they can heal. If your lips are cracked, this scrub shouldn’t be used, as the lemon will sting.
The scrub is made by combining sugar, honey, cinnamon (ground) and a few drops of lemon. You can apply and scrub the exfoliator with a spare toothbrush. Leave the scrub on the lips for 30 minutes then wash with cool water.
Which Products are Best for Chapped Lips
If you prefer drugstore lip balm, here are 5 of the best:
Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm
You might think of Maybelline as more of a lipstick company, but they make lip balm as well. Their Baby Lips line promises to renew lips within one week. Your lips will be baby soft and protected for up to eight hours each use.
Burt’s Bees 100 Percent Natural Medicated Moisturizing Lip Balm
Burt’s Bees are renowned for their moisturizing lip balms. Their 100 Percent Natural Medicated Moisturizing Lip Balm is geared more toward cold sores but it can work wonders for cracked skin, too. The balm is infused with 100% natural ingredients, such as nourishing Eucalyptus oil extract and Menthol.
Blistex Daily Conditioning Treatment SPF 20
The Blistex Daily Conditioning Treatment is a lip balm and a sunscreen in one. The balm is rich in moisturizing ingredients such as Vitamins A and E, aloe vera and cocoa butter. Like any sunscreen, it needs to be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure to be effective.
Neosporin Lip Health Overnight Renewal Therapy
Wearing lip balm overnight lets your skin absorb the moisturizing properties while you sleep. The Neosporin Lip Health Overnight Renewal Therapy hydrates your lips with its vitamins and emollients without having ingredients such as preservatives or artificial flavors.
Aquaphor Lip Repair
Aquaphor Lip Repair contains Shea Butter for skin nourishment and Chamomile essence. These ingredients help soothe and moisturize chapped lips.
Lip Care Routine
Including lip care in your face care and overall beauty routine is simple. Just follow these steps:
Clean Your Face
When you wash your face at night, be sure to clean your lips of lipstick or lip gloss as well as eye makeup. Unclean lips can transfer dead skin cells to your pillows or clothes.
Exfoliate Lips with a Scrub
You exfoliate your face, why not your lips? The flaky skin on your lips are dead skin cells that haven’t fallen off yet. Gross, right? Exfoliating can be done with a simple sugar and coconut oil mix or the honey and lemon exfoliating scrub listed above.
Use Lip Balm
Lip balms can help lock in moisture to help prevent your lips from drying out. You should use lip balm throughout the day and apply a nourishing balm at night before bed. If you’re outdoors a lot, especially during the summer, choose a lip balm with SPF protection.
Drink More Water
Water helps hydrate your body, including your lips. Remember to take a sip of water instead of licking your lips when you have chapped lips.
While chapped lips are something most people experience, it is possible that your flaky, painful lips are the result of a more severe condition called Cheilitis. It is caused by an infection and the most common symptom is cracked skin in the corners of your mouth.
If your dry, chapped lips continue to be a problem even after you try the remedies, you should make an appointment with a dermatologist. It can turn into something more serious and cause ulcers and other medical problems.