As far as serious problems go, I have to admit that chapped lips are way down there on the list. World hunger, poverty, global warming…yeah, they are all more dire issues. But just because chapped lips don’t constitute a serious problem doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek out a solution. Especially during the winter, when they start affecting you! Who knows? Maybe the only reason we haven’t discovered a way to stop the polar ice caps from melting is because all the scientists stationed on the South Pole are so distracted by their painful chapped lips that they can’t think straight!
Luckily for us (and the polar bears who are relying on those scientists), it is pretty easy to get fast relief for dry, cracked lips. Read on for easy-to-follow advice on how to get your lips back to the smooth, kissable smackers they are meant to be.
Quick fix for chapped lips:
Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) over your lips for an immediate boost of moisture and relief from painful cracking.
What causes chapped lips?
There are numerous potential causes for the dryness and painful cracking of chapped lips. The most common culprits are:
- Constant exposure to wind, sun, or cold, dry air
- Fever or illness
- Vitamin deficiency
- Open-mouth breathing
- Allergies to cosmetics or skin care products
- Frequent lip-licking
- Excessive drooling during sleep
Simple Ways to Relieve Dry, Chapped Lips
Apply lip balm to protect your lips. When your lips are dry and chapped, it is important to cover them with lip balm to prevent additional damage and help soothe any painful cracks. Emollient lip balms or ointments are recommended because they tend to provide longer-lasting moisture than a waxy stick treatment. When choosing a lip balm, look for one with an occlusive agent that will lock in existing moisture and give your lips more hydration with the addition of beneficial oils. The most common occlusive agent is petrolatum, but others include castor oil, sunflower oil, cocoa butter and shea butter. Effective lip balms include Eucerin Aquaphor Lip Repair, Blistex Lip Massage and Jack Black Intense Therapy. Avoid products containing menthol or camphor, as they can increase dryness.
Limit your exposure to sun and wind. Exposure to the elements is the number one cause of chapped lips. As you probably know, chapped lips are most common in the winter, when the cold, dry air causes your parched skin to become rough and cracked. When you must be outside in the wintertime, always wear a scarf over your mouth to protect your lips from the relentless wind and cold air. Chapped lips can also occur in the summer when the hot sun sears into your skin. Make sure that you wear a lip balm that contains at least an SPF of 15 to save your lips from the dangerous effects of the sun. Wear your SPF 15 (or higher) balm every day, year-round – and remember to reapply it every time you go outside.
Drink lots of water. Balms and petroleum jelly can relieve your chapped lips and put them on the road to recovery, but in order to see a significant, lasting improvement you must re-hydrate your body. If you are experiencing chapped lips, your body is sending a clear message that you need more water. Doctors have long recommended that individuals drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses each day. When you are suffering from dry skin or chapped lips, up your water intake to ten to twelve 8-ounce glasses a day to help give your body the extra moisture it is lacking.
Avoid licking or biting your lips.When your lips are dry, it is natural to feel the urge to add instant moisture by licking or sucking on your lips. While it may sound like an easy fix, licking your lips actually worsens chapping and slows the healing process. When saliva dries (which it does very quickly), your lips become even more dehydrated than before. Saliva also contains natural acids that can irritate already sore lips. You should also avoid biting or peeling away the dead skin once your lips begin to crack because it can cause pain and bleeding and prevent healing. If you are prone to licking your lips (you probably don’t even realize how often you do it), trade your yummy flavored lip balm for a flavorless one or a variety that tastes bad to you.
Use a humidifier. It’s not just the air outside that causes chapped lips; dry air inside your home or office can also cause your lips and skin to dry out and prolong the healing process. The air indoors tends to be especially dry in the winter, when heating systems are cranked to full blast and suck the moisture out of the air. Using a humidifier, especially in your bedroom while you sleep, helps restore some of the lost moisture. Humidifiers can also help prevent stuffy noses, and smoothly breathing through your nose (instead of mouth) is another way to reduce your chances of getting chapped lips.
Beware: Chapped Lips Might Lead to Lip Balm Addiction
It seems like everything is an “addiction” these days: food addiction, sex addiction, exercise addiction, you name it. While many scientists and doctors have dismissed the idea of lip balm addiction, some studies have shown that certain types of lip balm can be addictive and that overuse can actually dry out your lips even more.
Numerous news reports have stated that there is some proof to the notion that people can indeed become addicted to lip balm. The most likely reason is the psychological effect created by the feeling of having soft, smooth lips. When the lip balm wears off or dries out, habitual lip balm users feel the need to reapply immediately and become irritated when they are unable to do so. In fact, there is even a website devoted to lip balm addiction called Lip Balm Anonymous.
Many frequent lip balm users especially enjoy the tingling sensation they get when they apply lip balms containing menthol or camphor, which can create a cooling effect. However, both ingredients contain properties that can actually dry out your lips, thus perpetuating the need for more lip balm. If you think you might be a lip balm addict – and you can’t bear to cut down on your lip balm use – it’s best to switch to a product that contains natural ingredients such as coconut oil or shea butter.
Natural Remedies for Chapped Lips
Honey. Mix a few drops of honey with an equal amount of castor oil or aloe vera gel. Apply the mixture to your lips and leave on overnight. For extra cooling and soothing relief, spread the mixture on a thin slice of cucumber and lay it over your lips.
Vitamin E gel capsules. Break open one Vitamin E supplement gel capsule and apply the liquid directly to your lips with your finger. Taking Vitamin E supplements every day also helps prevent chapped lips.
Avocado. Mash up a small piece of ripe avocado and apply it directly to your lips. Avocado provides nutrients, vitamins and natural oils that keep your lips and skin moisturized and healthy.