When the snow falls and the wind blows, it seems near impossible to prevent chapped lips. We slather on the lip balm, but often within only minutes we’re back to dry, flaky skin. Sometimes it gets so bad we have cracking and bleeding, making our lips anything but inviting.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can take simple steps to protect and heal your lips throughout the winter months, so they remain kissably soft and luscious! We'll discuss what causes the damage and show you how to naturally prevent chapped lips.
What can make your lips chapped?
The lips have only three layers of skin—as opposed to about 16 layers of cells on the rest of your face. That means they are much more vulnerable to dryness, environmental pollutants, stressors and more. Though cold weather naturally leads to dry skin, some of us do things that can worsen the effects on our lips. Try to avoid the following to prevent chapped lips:
- Licking your lips. You may not even know you’re doing it, but try to be aware, as saliva is bad for your lips. Not only does it dry the skin as it evaporates, but it contains natural digestive enzymes that can break down skin, creating even dryer, more fragile lips.
- Biting or picking your lips. You may not even be aware of this habit, but if you’re finding stray pieces of dried skin on your lips, you may have been picking or biting at them. This removes the protective covering on the skin, which makes drying worse and leaves lips vulnerable to cracking and bleeding. Learn to stop yourself whenever the temptation strikes!
- Not drinking enough water. We tend to drink less water in the winter, but that’s bad for the skin. All skin—including the lips—hydrate from the inside out, and your body needs water to maintain proper moisture. As you drink, the cells in the skin rehydrate, which can help prevent excess dryness.
- Sleeping without a humidifier. Cold air is dry air. The dryer the air, the dryer your skin. You can easily rehydrate the air in your home with a humidifier. Using one in your room is especially important, as then you can protect your skin as you sleep overnight.
- Using lip balms that are bad for your lips. Many lip balms contain petroleum products. These ingredients create a sort of seal over your lips, which can feel moisturizing and may help prevent further moisture loss, but over time, can also prevent the lips from absorbing any hydrating ingredients you may apply to it. If you feel like you’re “addicted” to your lip balm, it may be because your product isn’t properly hydrating your lips. Look for natural balms that contain real moisturizers like vitamin E, shea butter, honey, coconut oil, propolis, beeswax, and the like, or try our homemade options listed below.
- Using lip products that could be making the problem worse. Some people are allergic to lipstick dyes or to other synthetic ingredients in lipsticks, glosses, and stains. Even if you’re not allergic, your lips could be suffering from constant exposure to drying, irritating color products. Try changing to more natural and organic formulas that are nourishing to the skin. Look for ingredients like vitamin E, shea butter, honey, and natural oils.
- Ignoring your diet. Skin needs essential fatty acids and B vitamins to be healthy, so be sure you’re getting enough from foods like flaxseed, fish, walnuts, olive oil, avocadoes, squash, and dark, green leafy vegetables.
- Breathing through your mouth. The cold, dry air wafting over your lips contributes to dryness. Try to breathe through your nose!
- Using a harsh cleanser. Cleansers with harsh sulfates, preservatives, and alcohols can be drying to your skin and your lips. Read more about how cleansers can be aging your skin, and choose a more natural, hydrating option (like our must try Aloe-Herb Cleanser!), then apply a nourishing lip balm immediately after washing your face. Watch out for your toothpaste, as well. Many contain harsh sulfates, synthetic flavorings, and dyes that can dry out your lips. Choose more natural options.
- Failing to protect. The sun may be hiding behind the clouds, but your skin is still vulnerable to penetrating UVA rays, which are actually more likely to increase risk of skin cancer. Your lips are most vulnerable to sun damage, so be sure to protect them with a safe sunscreen. Scarves and facemasks are also good for protecting from the sun, wind, and cold air.
What are natural remedies for chapped lips?
Despite our best efforts, we can all end up with chapped lips during the long, cold winter months. Here are some great natural ways to prevent chapped lips to bring back that luscious, smooth appearance for your lips.
- Gently exfoliate. You know it’s good to exfoliate your face, but you may not have thought about doing it to your lips. This is especially important in the winter when you have dry, flaky skin. It’s extremely important to be gentle, however. Try mixing a bit of regular sugar with olive or jojoba oil, then massage gently over the lips and rinse off. You can add a little honey for healing, hydrating power, or try mashed, ripe papaya—simply apply directly to lips and rinse off after about 10 minutes. The natural enzymes in the fruit gently help. Apply a moisturizer immediately after for smoother, more hydrated lips.
- Moisturize. Your lips need more moisture in winter than at any other time. Find a natural, petroleum-free balm that contains some of the nourishing ingredients we’ve listed here, or use homemade options like aloe gel, vitamin E, natural oils (almond, olive, coconut, and others), and honey. Some other options: rose petal extract mixed with raw milk, thinly sliced cucumbers (apply directly to lips), or butters like coconut butter, cocoa butter, and mango butter. Want a more convenient option? Try our Coconut Honey Mask, which already includes many of the ingredients listed here!
- Opt for the ointment. Lips that are in bad shape may need a more potent solution. Try combining a few drops of nutmeg essential oils, mandarin essential oil, and vitamin E oil, and apply as often as needed. Another option is neem—grind a few neem leaves, take out the juice, and apply the juice on the lips. Calendula also helps to soften.
- Treat overnight. Likely, you use a night cream to help rejuvenate your face overnight. You can do the same with your lips. Gently exfoliate before bed, then apply your most hydrating balm or homemade moisturizer, turn on the humidifier, and go to sleep. You’ll wake up with smoother, softer lips.