Harsh, chilly winters, especially here in the Northeast, can do a number on your skin. It can seem like overnight that you’ve traded your dewy summer glow for dry, cracked patches. One area that often gets overlooked until it’s already chapped are the lips. Here are a few tips on preventing dry lips.
Get in the habit of exfoliating your lips in every season, not just winter. The skin on your lips, like the rest of your body, needs to be exfoliated. However, lips need to be treated a little differently.
The skin on your lips is thinner than on the rest of your body, and doesn’t accumulate dead skin cells. Because of this, traditional exfoliating or harsh scrubbing can actually damage this delicate skin, leading to more dryness and chapping.
The trick is choosing the right type of product for the job. If you like sugar scrubs, use sparingly to prevent over-exfoliation. Instead, look for lip masks that you can leave on for a few minutes and then wipe off gently with a warm washcloth. Lip masks are chemical exfoliators, so they don’t have the abrasiveness of a physical lip scrub.
When wearing lipstick or lip tints, apply a lip primer beforehand. Not only will this make the cosmetic products go on more smoothly and last longer, but it will protect the sensitive skin of the lips underneath.
Many primers have hydrating and anti-aging properties as well, with ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Some contain collagen, which can increase plumpness while minimizing wrinkles.
Biting, peeling, and tearing at the skin on your lips can cause lots of problems. When you lick your lips continuously, not only are you drying them out more frequently, but biting or chewing on them is guaranteed to keep them chapped.
Peeling or tearing at the skin around the lips can cause abrasions and even infection. Our mouths are not the most sanitary parts of our bodies, so open wounds can absorb all sorts of germs and bacteria.
One of the biggest problems with many lip balms and chapsticks on the market today is that they have drying properties. This is not an accident -- beauty and personal care brands add ingredients like camphor, which can dry out the skin quickly, encouraging you to use more product.
Additionally, menthol-based lip products can be addictive. Be sure to read the labels on any lip balms you’re using. Look for hydrating ingredients like shea butter, vitamin E, or aloe vera. And choose products that also contain SPF of 30 or more, preventing sun damage.
Oil-based products and balms containing glycerin are great for application at night, so that your lips don’t dry out while you sleep. If you’re suffering from a bout of chapped lips, try applying a petrolatum-based product like Aquaphor.
If you’re in the greater New York City area and looking to give your lips a boost, give Vanguard Dermatology a call. We specialize in keeping your skin -- including lips -- healthy and youthful.