With 2010 hitting a lot of the northeast full-force, there are numerous sore sights: delayed traffic, unsightly bulky coats, mismatched gloves, and worst of all for the derm: dried, cracked lips. Fortunately, even if you can’t have the government shovel your walkway, you can have a quick and easy fix for your lips. Starting now:
1. Increase your hydration levels.
Although you are more likely to dehydrate in the summer, patients often do not consume as much water in the winter months, leaving them dehydrated. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of chapped lips (particularly if yours are also cracked and peeling), so be sure to consume about eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, with additional amounts after strenuous physical activity.
2. Stop licking your lips. Immediately.
There are several reasons why licking your lips dries them out. The first is that saliva contains numerous enzymes, collectively acting similar to a salt, not a hydrating complex. Another is that licking your lips strips them of natural oils, leaving them exposed to the harsh elements unprotected. Even when they’re dry, cracked, and highly irritated, resist the urge!
3. Invest in a top-notch lip balm with SPF for the day, and reapply often.
You wouldn’t think that you would need a lip balm with SPF in the winter, but truth be told, UV rays reflect off of snow and ice, leaving your face just as exposed to the elements as in the summer months, if not more so. (That’s why Eskimos don’t typically look 25 when they’re 70). In addition, I also look for emollient and humectant (water-binding) ingredients in my lip balm, such as petrolatum, cocoa butter, shea butter, and mineral oil. Some of my favorites include Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 ($8.69, Amazon.com – my favorite!), Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lip Balm SPF 15 ($19.19 for 12, Amazon.com), Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Lip Balm SPF 15 ($5.40, Amazon.com) and Neutrogena Moisture Shine Lip Gloss ($14.38 for 2, Amazon.com). While Neutrogena Moisture Shine Lip Gloss is less hydrating than the more traditional lip balms, it leaves a nice cosmetic sheen and feels great on the lips.
4. Invest in a nighttime lip treatment or apply Aquaphor to your lips at night.
The only product that has ever worked alone on my formerly eternally chapped lips is Clinique Superbalm ($11.50, Amazon.com). I apply it to my lips year-round before bed, and I have never experienced chapped lips since (unless, of course, I’ve run out of product and am between orders)!
Some dermatologists also recommend applying Aquaphor ($31.34 for 2, Amazon.com) to your lips at night before bed. While it doesn’t taste great, the mix of petrolatum and mineral oil lock moisture into your skin, while lanolin hydrates, and bisabolol treats irritation.
5. Exfoliate your lips gently, then apply lip balm.
While it may sound counterintuitive, exfoliating your cracked lips can provide a smoother surface so that your hydrating ointments are more effective. I personally like Philosophy Kiss Me Exfoliating Lip Scrub ($15.00, Amazon.com), followed by Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 ($8.69, Amazon.com).
6. See your dermatologist if your condition does not improve.
Believe it or not, chapped lips can occasionally (i.e., rarely) be the cause of an underlying condition, such as dehydration resulting from colitis, Crohn’s disease, or diabetes. If you have tried many of the aforementioned methods and none seem to work, consult with a dermatologist, who can not only recommend custom treatments for you, but also determine if your chapped lips signify an underlying condition.
What is your favorite chapped lip remedy? Let me know in Comments below!