There’s a lot to look forward to once temperatures start to drop. Chunky sweaters, oversized candles, ice skating, and stylish outwear all get me so excited for the cooler weather. But come February, the less than desirable side effects of freezing temperatures can start to come into play — namely, chapped lips.
Almost everyone experiences chapped lips at some point or another during the winter (or, if you’re anything like me, you experience them chronically until April or May). At their best, chapped lips can be annoying when you’re trying to put on lipstick. But at their worst, they can actually be quite painful. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to reverse the fate of overly chapped lips (and prevent them from drying out in the first place). Ahead, discover the seven best ways to prevent and treat chapped lips this winter, according to board-certified dermatologist and Surface Deep founder Dr. Alicia Zalka.
Avoid Licking Your Lips
Your lip skin is unique — it’s far more delicate than your cheeks or forehead. When you lick your lips, you’re actually depositing powerful digestive enzymes from your saliva onto your sensitive lips, which can cause the irritation and peeling we associate with chapped lips. It can be a tough habit to break, but try your absolute hardest to avoid licking your lips at all costs.
Use Your Lip Balm Overnight
According to Dr. Zalka, your skin’s natural healing process occurs overnight. So it’s a great idea to help boost your skin’s healing process with a little overnight lip treatment. Just as you would apply your favorite moisturizer to your face, neck, and decolletage before hitting the pillow at night, be sure to address moisture loss from cleansing and cold weather on your lips too. For mild to moderate chapped lips, any moisturizing lip balm will do. For severely dry, chapped lips, try an intensive overnight lip mask or ointment (Dr. Zalka recommends CeraVe Healing Ointment).
Use an Occlusive Product
If you aren’t familiar with occlusives, allow me to give you a brief introduction. Thicker than moisturizers, occlusives are rich, moisturizing agents that provide a barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss. Common examples of occlusives for the lips include Aquaphor and Vaseline. Most occlusives typically contain petrolatum (which, btw, can be pore-clogging — so keep it on your lip area only if you are prone to breakouts). “Occlusive products that contain oils or petroleum lock in moisture and prevent natural oils from escaping,” explains Dr. Zalka. “Think of a tarp on a leaking roof that keeps rainwater and flooding from getting into your home.” The best way to use an occlusive on your lips is to layer it over your favorite lip balm to trap the moisture onto your lips. Occlusives are also a great option to wear when you plan to be outside in the cold; the proper application will provide a barrier to prevent your lip skin from being exposed to the elements.
According to Dr. Zalka, picking at the dry skin on your lips is one of the most common ways that people tend to worsen chapped lips. Peeling off those chapped layers of the skin causes further tearing and trauma to the lips, which can be quite painful and cause further chapping. Instead, try using a gentle exfoliant (a warm, wet towel should do the trick) when you’re experiencing a buildup of dry skin and follow up with a hydrating lip balm.
Try to Breathe Through Your Nose
As temperatures drop, more and more people tend to experience stuffy noses, which causes us to breathe through our mouths more often than usual. It seems harmless, but breathing through your mouth causes you to suck in cold air, which passes over your lips. This can cause your lips to chap faster, so if you can breathe through your nose, try to do so.
Try a Humidifier
Dry, cold air is a recipe for disaster when it comes to chapped lips. If you’ve found that these conditions tend to seep into your home during the winter months, consider investing in a humidifier to help give your lips (and your facial skin, too) a break from the elements. You don’t have to break the bank with a full-room humidifier, either. Try a mini humidifier like the Hey Dewy for your bedside table or desk — it’s $40 and makes you feel like you have a little piece of the spa in your home.
Avoid Matte Lipsticks
I hate to break the news, but those liquid matte lipsticks with superstay power that last the full day are extremely drying for your lips. If you’re dealing with uncomfortable chapped lips, use them sparingly, and instead opt for a nourishing tinted lip balm or an oil-infused lip gloss.
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