Are you a chapped lip sufferer? I absolutely am. It’s mostly my own fault. I have a confession… I am a serial lip picker. I just cannot help myself. It all started [what seems like an age ago] with final year exam stress. You know those ‘tell’s’ poker genius’s watch out for, well I reckon we all have our own ‘I am deeply in very important thought’ tell… a forehead rub? a beard [for the men out there!] stroke? or my special… messing around with your lips!
So what can you do about pesky chapped lips?
WHY DO I GET CHAPPED LIPS WHEN MY SKIN ISN’T DRY?
If you don’t suffer from dry skin, you are still VERY likely to suffer from dry, chapped lips… at least one prescribed ’bout’ of it a year. Even if you are an oily skin sufferer, those lips are little rebels that shout, ‘hey, look at me, I’m different and I am going to be loud and proud about it!’.
It would actually be scientifically impossible to have naturally oily lips… which is why chapped lips are SO common. But why? What is going on here..
Lips are skin, the same kinda skin that’s on the back of your hands or your expert 4-inch heel wearing feet.
Lip skin gets accessorised with a few ‘unique specials’ that make our lips vulnerable to becoming chapped, dry and ‘ouchy’ [I’m sure that’s a real word *winks*]!
Our lips are like the flip side of a Rivitta that doesn’t have the holes in. See skin on our faces, backs, hands, feet, it has ‘pores’. Pores that make a special moisturising juice called ‘sebum’ that protects skin from losing water and keeps it all nourished looking. Our lips don’t have ‘pores’ which means they can’t release their own moisturising juices. #HelpAGurlOut
The other ‘special feature’ of our lips is their colour, which is courtesy of lip skin being SUPER thin. Our skin is like the world’s biggest layer cake, one that you’d spend a whole year trying to pin down the exact number of! To make it simples we say that skin has 3 main layers to its cake – epidermis, dermis & subcutis.
The top one [the epidermis] is what keeps skin protected and hydrated… on your lips it is thinner than the rice cake paper of a macaroon! That means less protection for your lips and more exposure to the deeper skin layers that contain blood vessels, collagen, elastin…. [that’s why chapped lips bleed so easily].
Now we’ve had that hear-to-heart with our lip biology, let’s get onto the 5 awesome ingredients that you should be on the hunt for to treat your chapped lips…
1. LANOLIN FOR CHAPPED LIPS
Lanolin is an awesome ingredient for chapped lips. Lanolin is like a cross between jojoba oil and beeswax, it has the best of both worlds, it can nourish your lips like a skin loving oil and it can also form a nice protective barrier against losing lip hydration like beeswax could.
Chapped lip treatment products that JUST form a barrier [like Vaseline] can help your lips to stop losing moisture, but if they are dry and chapped already, they aren’t going to be getting any ‘less dry’ any time soon.
Remember those 2 ‘special features’ we said lips had, no pores for your natural skin moisturising juices and a super thin protective layer? Lanolin can put a ‘tick’ back in both of those boxes, yes to bringing some super moisturising powers and yes to giving your chapped lips a lovely little barrier to water loss.
Want some Lanolin lip love in your life? Lanolips original 101 ointment literally contains nothing but lanolin and lanolin oil, £10.99/17ml, they also have lots of other versions which contain other nourishing lovelies like vitamin E. Carmex is also based on the wonders of Lanolin, from their Original Lip Balm £2.02/7g to their Lip Balm Tube £2.02/10ml, for ultra chapped lip soothing, avoid the ones with the fragrance in, they might smell yum [which kinda makes you want to lick your lips right?] but fragrance can be irritating for your skin, best avoided when your lip skin is sensitively thin!
2. VITAMIN E FOR CHAPPED LIPS
When your lips get all chapped and angry, it’s a safe sign that there is skin damage. That skin damage dances on our lip stage in the form of chapped dry lips. Usually we want to treat it so quickly we don’t stop to think about what caused it… dry winter air is a common trigger for chapped lips, literally stealing your lip hydration – how rude! There are other lip stressors like UV light that gradually eat away at your lips resilience. Vitamin E is a really well studied anti-oxidant that helps to stop skin and the skin on your lips from getting to that super stressed stage. More recently it’s also been shown to build up resilience in your skin against damaging UV rays. #WinWin. Using a healthy dose of vitamin E will help your lips fight against future chapped lip pain!
3. SPF FOR CHAPPED LIP PROTECTION
I honestly think my lips could file for emancipation based on neglect! I am super conscious of protecting my skin from harmful UV rays, but when it comes to my lips they are lucky if they get a ‘left over’ sprinkle of sun screen! The skin on our lips is just like the skin on our face, it needs to be kept safe from damaging UV rays to keep it in a ‘super healthy, I could feature in a fitness magazine’ condition. If you are committed to getting out of the chapped lip cycle [and avoiding other types of sun damage like sun spots and even lip cancer] then adding an SPF to your lip armoury is a must.
Get some SPF lip love in your life: Nivea Soothe & Protect Lip Balm SPF 15, £2.75/4.8g is a good every dayer, even having a good dose of natural vitamin E to help build up long term UV resilience. They also have an SPF 30 version of Soothe & Protect, £4.00/4.8g, which would be great for your sun seeking days!
4. BEESWAX FOR CHAPPED LIPS
Chapped lips are like a home with the front door left wide open… there’s no invitation necessary [unless you’re a vampire ‘eh!] anyone can walk right in. Chapped lips are skin that is in an uphill struggle to hold onto water. As well as adding back in hydration, in the short term you need to slap on a good barrier to mark your ‘STOP’ sign to water traffic in the sand! This type of chapped lip protection is perfect before you go to bed because it will stay put all night long, ain’t nobody sacrificing sleep for lip up-keep! Beeswax forms a barrier against water loss while your chapped lips get themselves back into fighting form.
Overnight beeswax lip protection: EOS lip balms £6.50/7g, are a great overnight protection for chapped lips. If you’ve never tried one before, they take a little getting used to as the balm is very ‘stiff’ and you might feel like you don’t have anything on your lips at first – but trust me it’s there! They are also packed with nourishing plant oils and butters like Shea – Shea is VERY nourishing for lips [I love me a bit of Shea Butter love] basically EOS round off all bases in these perfect over night chapped lip ‘space ship’ shaped balms.
5. FACE CARE FOR CHAPPED LIPS
Seriously! This is like taking your lips for a ‘free’ spa day. Got a great moisturiser that fixes up any dry skin patches and quickly? Grab a little of that skin love for your lips too! It’s also a great help to gently exfoliate chapped lips with a fine facial scrub, stay away from using skincare acids on your lips, they are too thin to tolerate this kinda skincare ingredient. A gentle lip scrub will help tease away ‘past their best’ lip skin cells and with long term use will stop you from getting any of those ‘peeling’ chapped lip chunks. I have been known to use a toothbrush for a quick bit of lip exfoliation – that works just as well!
When do you suffer most from chapped lips? What’s your current ‘GO-TO’ chapped lip helper?
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.