If you’ve experienced an icy winter, you know just how much a cold climate can affect your skin. Dry hands, cracked feet and even chapped lips are all indicators that your skin has been exposed to dry, cold air. But did you know that chapped lips could happen all year long? No matter what the climate or season, it’s time to moisturize and protect your sensitive skin from the environment!
Love Your Lips
Everyone longs for kissably soft, smooth lips. That’s why proper lip care is crucial, but understanding the basic anatomy of the lips is the first step to maintaining lip skin health.
Lips are comprised of several layers of skin. Unlike the skin on the rest of the face, these layers are ultra-thin and transparent. Both layers of skin, the exterior layer (Stratum corneum) and the lipid layer (the thin film of oil that coats the Stratum corneum), contain humectants, which are molecules that draw moisture from the air into the skin. Beneath the surface lie a mucous membrane and the blood vessels that give the lips their reddish hue. When lips turn blue, it’s because the blood vessels have shut down due to poor oxygen and cold temperatures.
Lips also have minimal sebaceous glands and no sweat glands, so the skin loses water much quicker there than from other parts of the face or body. Dry lips can lead to chapped lips, also called “cheilitis,” by doctors.
What Causes Chapped Lips?
From dehydration to licking your lips too much to extreme weather to allergic reactions to using the wrong beauty care products and more, lips can become dry and chapped for numerous reasons, all triggered from a variety of external or internal factors. Here are some common reasons.
External Causes of Chapped Lips
You lick your lips too much. Saliva actually removes moisture from the skin, so keep your tongue in your mouth and opt for a lip balm instead. A good balm or ointment will act as a buffer between your lips and the elements, especially one that is natural and high in emollients. Lip balms made of mostly wax do not support skin health as much as lip balms that blend waxes with essential oils, emollients and antioxidants for repair. Be sure to apply a protectant balm or ointment before putting on lipstick or lip gloss. Apply it in the morning, every few hours during the day and at night.
You bite or peel your lips. Instead of picking at the thin skin on your lips, let them heal. Whether you have a cold sore, a scab or other irritation, don’t cause further damage to chapped lips. Instead, lightly exfoliate lips and apply balm or ointment as needed. If you have chapped lips that just won’t heal, you may want to talk to your doctor or dermatologist.
You breathe through your mouth. Instead, try breathing through your nose. If you’re congested, try taking a dietary supplement or related product to support a healthy immune response, especially during seasonal health challenges.
You live or work in an arid, dry environment. When you’re at home, especially at night, use a humidifier indoors to add moisture to the air and help quench your thirsty skin. Be sure to clean the humidifier at least once a week by rinsing it out with white vinegar and water. While at work, use a small, travel-sized humidifier that will fit perfectly on your desk and hydrate your lips at your cubicle without causing too much of a distraction.
Your lips are exposed to a harsh climate. Sun or wind damage can occur even when it’s cloudy and you’re not in bright sunlight. In the spring and summer, wear a wide-brimmed hat that shades your face from the sun’s harmful rays. In fall and winter, be sure to cover your hands, feet and face with the appropriate outdoor gear. A ski mask or scarf that covers your mouth may prevent further damage to your lips. To prevent burned, chapped lips, use a facial sunscreen with an SPF that doesn’t irritate your sensitive skin. Be aware that severe winds can also cause chapping.
Internal Causes of Chapped Lips
You don’t drink enough water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water is an essential nutrient for life. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men consume at least 3.7 liters (125 ounces) of water per day from all foods and liquids. Women need 2.7 liters (91 ounces) per day. Without enough water in your diet, you could be at risk of dehydration, kidney stones and poorer cognitive function. Well nourished and hydrated bodies maintain healthier looking skin.
You’re eating the wrong foods. Limit eating citrus fruits, salty or spicy foods, which can dry out your lips.
Your lips are irritated or have had an allergic reaction. Fragranced lip care products with ingredients such as eucalyptus, menthol, citrus, peppermint or camphor can dry or irritate your lips. Or, you may be allergic to plant-based oils and moisturizers like beeswax, shea butter, castor seed or soybean oil.
Instead, you may want to try using a gentle, botanical-based oil on your lips. Lightly dab on aloe vera, almond oil, coconut oil or jojoba oil directly onto your lips at night to lock in the moisture. It should soak into your skin quickly and support hydration.
Some people may also be sensitive to certain lip care or makeup products, even to certain toothpastes with synthetic flavors. That’s why Natural Healthy Concepts offers a large selection of skin loving, certified organic and herbal-based beauty and personal care products.
You need more vitamin D. A lack of UVB exposure may result in a vitamin D deficiency, because up to 90% of the vitamin D we get is a result of direct exposure to the sun. By introducing a vitamin D supplement into your diet, you’ll help fill any nutritional gaps caused by staying indoors to avoid harsh weather. Vitamin D helps support overall skin health.
When it comes to skin health, it’s important to take care of your lips. By adhering to the tips above, you’ll enjoy a healthier looking smile all year long.
Have you tried the tips above? What’s your favorite lip balm or ointment? Share your suggestions in the comments below.