You would think that nature would find a solution for something as common as chapped lips. As it is, almost everyone has had that lip situation when their lips are cracked, chapped, sore, possibly bleeding, and definitely in a terrible mood.
Evolution did give lips soft texture, millions of nerve endings, and no sweat glands to make them kissable. Not sure why nature cares that much about kissability, but it does leave your lips' health entirely up to you.
The fact that the lips have almost no natural protection makes them highly susceptible to external and internal factors that can cause dryness and chapping. By understanding what causes lips to dry up, chap, and crack, you can take steps to protect them.
What Causes Dry and Chapped Lips?
There are more reasons for cracked lips than there are arrows in Cupid's bow. Environmental factors, foods we eat, cosmetics we use, and personal habits all contribute to chapping. Did you know that licking your lips actually causes them to dry more? Here are a few more.
- Breathing through your mouth causes faster evaporation from the lip's surface and more drying
- Cold weather exposes the lips to harsh elements such as wind and freezing cold
- The sun and its UV rays cause drying and irritation. It can even cause cancer in some people
- Cosmetic products can attack the skin surface on the lips, especially products with petrolatum, parabens, and all those baddies. Even petroleum jelly and lip balm can have potentially harmful products such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and undisclosed flavors
- Sunscreen compounds with SPF can easily cause allergic reactions. The goes for oxybenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate
- Hot beverages such as coffee and tea also dry out the lips
- Salty foods also make dry lips worse
- Toothpaste can have artificial irritants
- Nutrient deficiencies such as lack of iron, zinc, and vitamin B can cause cracking
- Supposedly "helpful" ingredients such as camphor, eucalyptus, cinnamon, menthol, salicylic acid can be irritating on the lips
- Any product that burns or stings your lips upon application
That is such a long (and not exhaustive) list that you might wonder what you can use to heal dry and chapped lips. Given how sensitive lips are, you need to be very gentle with how you treat them. Here is a step-by-step lip care routine that you can use to get back the full, pink, soft pout that nature intended.
The first step to healing your lips is to remove remnants of products used in previous applications. All lip balm, makeup, moisturizer, or petroleum jelly needs to come off.
However, you should not use just any cleaner on your lips, because face cleaners have compounds like salicylic acid that belong on the don't use list. Regular cleaners also have an unbalanced pH that can irritate and further dry out the lips.
Instead, you need a natural, pH-neutral cleanser to do the job. You can also use some pH-neutral soap and some cotton fiber cloth to do the cleansing.
This step helps to remove the dry, flaking, and ugly skin on top of the lips and reveal the soft, shiny layers underneath. It also helps to eliminate peeling and allow the healing products that will follow to have maximum effect.
However, exfoliating chapped lips needs to be done very gently and carefully. Avoid store-bought exfoliants and brushes which can be too aggressive. There is a better and sweeter home-made alternative that you can use to remove the dead skin cells.
Brown sugar is an excellent abrasive exfoliant, but it needs to be mixed with honey or some kind of oil to serve as an emollient (softener). Mix the two into a thick paste and rub it gently on the lips with a circular motion. A damp washcloth will also do the trick if you don't want to use your fingers.
Exfoliate dry lips up to three times a week and be sure to wash off all the remaining paste from your lips when you are done.
3. Use a Lip Mask
This stage is the most important because it gives the lips all the ingredients to heal and be replenished. However, a lot of people skip this stage and use a moisturizer instead, which does nothing for the lips.
The right lip mask works just like a skin serum, introducing healing nutrients and compounds deep into the lips so that they can recover much more quickly. It also provides a highly beneficial and soothing deep moisturization effect that can last for days.
We recommend the BioRepublic Pout Perfecting Lip Masks that deliver more serum to the lips and surrounding skin, ensuring full luscious lips for days. The luxurious bio-cellulose patch is designed to adhere to the lip contours, while the soothing serum provides instant relief from dry and chapped lips. Use the lip mask 2-3 times a week for best results, leaving it on at least 15 minutes each time.