How to Heal Your Winter-Ravaged Lips

A week doesn’t go by without someone in my life complaining about her dry, chapped lips – at least during the wintertime.

Cold, dry air pulls moisture out of the skin (which is why your poor legs are scalier than usual right now), but since lips don’t have oil glands to replenish moisture, they get the short end of the stick. Read: Cracked, irritated, even bleeding (!!!) lips.

Never fear – help is here. First things first, you’ll need to reassess your lip balm.

While you might be tempted to reach for balms with the word “medicated” on the label, beware that some of them might be making your lip issues worse. As NYC dermatologist Amy Wechsler, MD explains, some of these lip balms contain the ingredient phenol, which breaks down skin tissue and causes an endless cycle of irritation (the dreaded “lip balm addiction”).

Speaking of breaking down tissue, guess what else does that? Your own saliva. Saliva has enzymes to break down food, and those same enzymes attack your lips. If your lips are dry and you lick them to make them feel better… bad news. There’s that endless cycle again.

What can you do to heal your poor pucker? Look for balms with natural moisturizers such as beeswax, olive oil, and shea butter. Use a humidifier at night to ensure you are sleeping in a moisture-rich environment. Avoid lip plumpers, which often contain irritating ingredients to spur your lips into getting bigger and redder. 

If you need major help, look for a lip balm with hydrocortisone, an anti-inflammatory ingredient. I can say from personal experience that it’ll remedy those cracked lips, lickety split.

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