Get rid of dry and chapped lips with these tips on how to protect, heal, and soothe your parched pout
Chapped lips can be caused by a number of different things, including simple, everyday habits like breathing and licking your lips. Harsh conditions (think: dry, winter air or excessive sunlight) and certain medications are top triggers too. It's enough to make you start hoarding chapsticks in your desk, purse, and car (guilty!). The good news: of all the skin on your body, your lips have one of the highest cell turnover rates, says Dr. Elizabeth Callahan, M.D., a dermatologist in Sarasota, Florida. Which means relief is in reach—and not just from your chapstick tube. Flip for tips on how to pamper even the most parched pout. (Got dry hands too? Get a load of these 6 Hand Healers for Every Skincare Problem.)
Whether you’re trying to prevent or treat dry lips, “the first and most important thing to do is to hydrate,” says Callahan. When it comes to hydration, it’s all about what works for your lips—but she recommends a petroleum-based ointment like Aquaphor Lip Repair ($5; walgreens.com). It contains shea butter, which is chock full of fatty acids that increase the elasticity of the skin, as well as glycerin, which locks in moisture. Callahan recommends slathering a generous amount on your lips before bed. “It’s the only time you’ll be able to treat your lips for around eight hours straight without interruption,” she says. And you’ll wake up with soft, supple lips.
Excessive sun exposure can do a number on your lips and, in extreme cases, even cause cancer. Shield your smacker with a chemical or mineral sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, and remember to reapply often. “Your lips are an area where it will wear off quickly,” says Callahan. Her favorite, Aquaphor, comes in a version with sunscreen for daytime: Aquaphor Lip Repair + Protect SPF 30 ($5, walgreens.com). Or you can try Elta MD UV Lip Balm SPF 31 ($10, dermstore.com). Stash a few extra tubes in your purse, at your desk and in the car to act as reminders to reapply. And athletes, take note: “If you’re a runner, skiier, or outdoor enthusiast, don’t wait for a problem to happen,” warns Callahan. “Be proactive.” (Before you book a winter getaway, learn how to protect your hair and skin with these Winter Beauty Tips from X-Games Stars.)
Just like with acne, the worst thing you can do to dry lips is pick them. “You actually do have oil glands in your lips, so your body will naturally rehydrate the skin eventually,” says Callahan. Don’t exfoliate too aggressively, either, she advises, as the skin is there to protect you. Picking or peeling can cause cracking or create open cuts that risk infection. If you’re in a pinch (say, you’ve got a hot date that night with hopes of a goodnight kiss), try a gentle exfoliation with a lip-specific product like Bliss Fabulips Pout-O-Matic Lip-Perfecting System ($52, blissworld.com). Apply the nourishing Fabu-lips Sugar Lip Scrub to the rotating, polishing tool and gently slough away dead skin for a soft, supple pout.
If you’re caught on the go with no lip balm in sight (the horror!), Callahan recommends reaching for a matte lip color versus a stain or a gloss. Most stains have no emollients, making them extremely drying. And though glosses may initially make your lips feel better by adding a liquid barrier, they merely sit on top of the lips without moisturizing them, and the super shiny ones actually magnify sunlight. A creamy matte is your best bet for temporary relief. We like Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Mattes ($8, maybelline.com), which come in 10 different shades and contain three different types of oil to hydrate lips.
Feeling crafty? The secret to softer, supple lips is hiding right inside your pantry. Whip up this easy DIY recipe at home for a simple (yet gentle) scrub:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 small container
Directions: Combine olive oil and honey in container. Add in sugar and stir until consistency is thick and not too liquid. Apply the scrub to your lips and gently exfoliate in a rotating motion. If time allows, let sit for one to two minutes to sink in. Wipe off excess with a damp towel. Store in fridge to maintain freshness. (See more 20 DIY Beauty Products to Get Pampered on Less.)