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Get rid of chapped lips for good this winter

Your guide to getting rid of chapped lips for good this winter

Close-up of man's lips and lower face
Wallace Chuck / Pexels / Pexels

Winter is prime time for some of our favorite outdoor activities, from skiing and snowboarding to skating and ice fishing. Still, you can’t have the good without the bad — and chapped lips are a common winter skincare plight that comes with time spent out in the elements. To make matters worse, dry air from indoor heating systems can exacerbate the issue. Dry lips can impact your outward appearance and lead to painful cracking, bleeding, and inflammation when left untreated.

Trying to answer the question, “Why are my lips so dry!?” can seem like a puzzle in itself. Countless lip balms on the market promise to soften and hydrate lips, but not all are created equally. So, is finding the best lip balm the key to keeping lips soft and smooth all winter? Well, not entirely. Getting rid of chapped lips completely requires more than topical interventions alone, but it is possible to protect your pout against the harsh effects of chilly weather and dry air. We’ll fill you in on chapped lip causes, treatments, and more to keep you smiling comfortably throughout the season.

Man standing outside in snow wearing gloves
Pexels / Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels

Common causes of chapped lips

You might think that chapped lips are simply the result of cold winter air, but several factors contribute to their development.

Environmental factors

From an environmental perspective, everything from excess sun exposure to windy conditions can cause chapping, cracked lips, and skin irritation. And while a sudden drop in temperature or humidity can create the perfect conditions for chapped lips, bad habits can make them spiral out of control. 

First and foremost, you may want to reconsider your attachment to your dehumidifier or space heater if you’re suffering from persistently parched lips. Harsh winter weather isn’t the only thing that leads to chapped lips, so wearing protective lip balm indoors is essential if you live or work in spaces with low humidity.

Personal habits

Once you’ve evaluated your surroundings, it’s time to examine how you treat your lips. Without realizing it, many of us tend to lick, bite, or chew on our lips. For some, this can be due to underlying stress, while others may try to moisten their mouth this way without lip balm. However, this is one of the leading chapped lips causes. Saliva isn’t good for chapped lips, as it contains precursory digestive enzymes that can dry them out. Of course, a little spit here or there won’t do much damage – but it’s important to keep a handle on this habit so it doesn’t become a regular occurrence.

Close-up of hand holding Burt's Bees lip balm
Pexels / Erik McLean / Pexels

The best products to use for chapped lips in cold weather

Before we explore what to use for chapped lips, let’s discuss the products to avoid. Using the wrong lip balm can have the opposite effect on your pout, so it’s best to chuck them in the bin if you’re serious about keeping your kisser smooth. Many popular lip balms contain ingredients like salicylic acid, menthol, or alcohol, which can spell trouble for cracked or irritated lips. What’s more, even natural lippies can negatively affect your pout. Even some essential oils, like citrus or lavender, may be too stimulating for sensitive lips and potentially increase sensitivity.

Exfoliate first

Depending on the severity of your condition, you might want to start with a lip exfoliator or scrub before applying your lip balm of choice. Exfoliating can be as simple as using a toothbrush or washcloth to slough off dead skin or rubbing on a paste of olive oil and sugar. However, don’t sweat it if you’re not the crafty type. You can always try a product like Poppy & Pout Lip Balm to get the job done in a jiffy. Like other natural exfoliating treatments, Poppy & Pout’s Scrub contains a simple blend of oils, beeswax, and vitamin E to revitalize the lips.

Choose the right lip balm

Everyone’s preferences are different when choosing the best lip balm or ointment for their needs. With that in mind, there are a few bestsellers that you may want to consider during your next shopping trip. For a non-greasy, emollient alternative to traditional Chapstick, try a stick like Sun Bum, Burt’s Bees, or Melem Lip Balm – products that feature nourishing ingredients like coconut oil, lanolin, and shea butter. If you prefer a jar or pot instead, Vaseline Lip Therapy Cocoa Butter is an extra moisturizing alternative to stick balms. And, for those seeking something more intensive, few overnight lip conditioners can compare to Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, which softens and hydrates lips for hours.

Close-up of person pouring oil into lip balm containers
Pexels / Ron Lach / Pexels

Other ways to keep your lips soft and smooth

Beyond switching up your grooming routine, there are several ways to improve the look and feel of your lips.

  • As you might expect, drinking more water or increasing your fluid consumption can help eliminate chapped lips by plumping up the skin and supporting healthy cell turnover.
  • If you notice you are experiencing dry lips indoors, consider installing a humidifier or using a hydrating face mist instead.
  • You can also help your skin (and lips) heal by eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods, especially those high in vitamin E and zinc. Zinc can speed up wound healing, addressing cracked lips, while vitamin E calms inflammation and nourishes the skin. Good sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds, oysters, eggs, and beef, while vitamin E is in sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, and avocados, and hyaluronic acid can be found in everything from bone broth to oranges. If you’re considering adding either nutrient to your diet through supplementation, speak with your doctor for their perspective first.

By implementing healthy habits alongside topical treatments, you can transform your lips this winter in virtually no time.

Editors' Recommendations

Robyn Song
Robyn is a writer, artist, and content creator from Schenectady, New York. To say she has varied interests would be putting…
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