While we make a list of things that we’re leaving behind in 2020 — our failed dalgona coffee attempts, countless hours spent making banana bread, and alllll the bad vibes — can we also add dry, ashy, cracked, and crusty lips to the mix? Chapped lips can happen to anyone, but with the right prep, they don’t have to be a winter inevitability.
The first step in fighting off a dry mouth is understanding why it happens in the first place. “The skin of the lips is thin and delicate,” says Hadley King, MD, a New York City dermatologist. “It does not contain oil glands like the rest of the skin, so this makes it particularly prone to drying out.”
This makes your lips a breeding ground for cracks and discomfort when it’s cold out. “Dryness is exacerbated during the winter because the humidity in the air decreases, so more moisture evaporates from the skin into the air,” Dr. King says. “Exposure to wind makes this worse.”
Joshua Zeichner, MD, of Zeichner Dermatology in NYC says that other common causes of chapped lips include excessive lip licking, irritating lip products, and even spicy foods. “Chapped lips occur when the outer layer of the lips is disrupted, which leads to loss of hydration and inflammation,” he says. But even if you live in Chicago or put Sriracha on everything, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to chapped lips forever. According to experts, there are easy ways to hydrate and protect your lips, especially in colder climates. We’re breaking down their tips, ahead.
Don’t lick your lips.
It might feel like an instinctual thing to do, but your saliva will only make things worse. “Licking your lips may temporarily feel soothing, but it will only dry them out more,” Dr. King explains. “The saliva evaporates quickly and leaves your lips drier than they were before.” Instead of using your saliva for temporary relief, pick up a hydrating lip balm.
Avoid drying ingredients.
Not all lip balms are created equal, and some may do more harm than good. That’s why Dr. King says to pay close attention to the ingredients list on your favorite lip products. “Make sure you are using a lip balm that contains emollients and occlusives,” she says. “Emollients, like ceramides, support the skin barrier. Occlusive ingredients, such as petrolatum, beeswax, and coconut oil, create a physical barrier to prevent moisture loss.”
Dr. King recommends steering clear of balms with only humectants, which will ultimately make your lips more dry. “Lip balms that contain only humectants, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin, can make lips drier,” she explains. “They attract moisture, and if the air is low in humidity, then they can pull moisture out of the skin, and then the moisture evaporates away, therefore leaving your lips drier.” Dr. Zeichner says irritating ingredients like menthol, alcohol, …read more