Ah, the joys of chapped lips… Peeling, dry, flaky lips. Sexy, right?
Wrong, so what’s a girl (or guy) to do? Because vanity has run amok among the sexes lately and guys are just as interested in having smooth, moist lips as the next girl. There are three steps in dealing with dry, chapped lips: Determine the cause, deal with it and maintain.
© lips image via Shutterstock
Determine the cause
What is causing chapped lips can help you to find the best solution for the problem.
- Allergies or illness that lead to excessive lip licking. If you suspect an allergy, speak with your doctor to confirm but but even the common cold can lead to dry lips. While not strictly speaking an allergy, some people find that the flavours in toothpaste can affect their lips and dry them out. Opt for a more natural toothpaste if you suspect this is the cause.
- Lip licking. Some people do this as a nervous habit, like biting nails. Doing it removes natural oils from your lips and while you might think that saliva is hydrating your lips, it’s actually having the opposite effect, with certain enzymes in our mouths contributing to the dryness. It’s a good idea to try and break yourself of this habit to avoid chapped lips.
- Dehydration. Not getting enough moisture into your body is bound to affect your skin, including your lips. Also, people who breathe through their mouths at night (or all the time) tend to be plagued with chapped lips.
- Exposure to sun, wind or harsh elements. Dry, cold air can really impact your lips.
- Medications. Some medications can contribute to dry lips or overall dehydration so check out the side effects if you’re taking something new or ask your pharmacist. Example, some prescriptions for oral acne treatment or anti-nausea medications.
- Smoking and/or drinking alcohol.
- Deficiency in certain vitamins or fatty acids in your body. If you’ve ruled out everything else for a stubborn and ongoing case of chapped lips, see your doctor or dermatologist about this possibility.
Fixing the chappiness of chapped lips
Okay, I’m not entirely certain that ‘chappiness’ is a word, buy you know what I am getting at. You want to get rid of the dead skin so that you can start with a clean slate, so to speak.
Exfoliate. Mix two teaspoons of sugar with one teaspoon of honey. Apply the mixture to your lips and let it sit for a few minutes. Resist the urge to lick it! Then rub the concoction into your lips. The sugar will exfoliate the dead cells and the honey will re-hydrate your lips. Wash it all off with warm water. DO NOT pick your lips, as you will only damage the skin and could even get an infection as a result.
Sore Lips. If your lips are sore due to the chapping, place slices of cucumber on them and leave them there for about 5 minutes. The cucumber will give your lips a jolt of hydration that they need.
Hydrate. While I’ll talk about overall body hydration in the next section, for now, you can hydrate your lips naturally a couple of different ways:
- Honey: Simply apply honey to your lips several times a day. The downside is that it is hard to resist licking your lips, which will only aggravate the chapping issue so if you can’t resist, try a different method. Some people mix honey with vaseline to make a more ‘durable’ coating on their lips. Apply the honey first, then cover with a coat of vaseline, to lock in the hydrating properties of the honey.
- Coconut oil, almond oil or olive oil: Apply pure oil to your lips several times a day. They contain fatty acids that will help hydrate quickly and easily.
- Aloe vera gel: Since this typically doesn’t taste very good, you’ll more easily resist the temptation to lick your lips. In addition, aloe vera has healing qualities that can help a stubborn case of chapped lips, including cracking and flaking.
- Shea butter.
- Vaseline is a good option at night, particularly for mouth breathers, to ensure that your lips are protected.
First off, hydrate your body. Drink lots of water all year around, not just in the summer. While the heat of summer and sun exposure will certainly not enhance chapped lips, nor will the bite of a cold winter wind and the dryness of home heating.
Chapped lips are an early sign of dehydration of your skin and body so you should also add humidity in your home through the winter months to ensure that you hydrate from the inside and the outside.
If you are going to expose your lips to some harsh outside elements—on a ski trip, for example—make sure you use a sunscreen designed for lips but only after you have exfoliated and repaired any existing chapping. Otherwise, the sunscreen can irritate your lips further. Beeswax based balms with sunscreen are the most natural option on the market today.
Watch your consumption of acidic foods and drinks, like oranges, grapefruit and the like. These can contribute to chapped lips or make a stubborn case worse.
If you deal with the cause and fix your lips, it’s just a matter of maintaining your care of them. Do you have any tried and true cures for chapped lips?