A Guide To Caring For Chapped Lips
A Guide To Caring For Chapped Lips

A Guide To Caring For Chapped Lips

We all know the importance of a good skincare routine, but somehow our lips are often neglected. Because there's nothing worse than sore, chapped lips, we asked two experts for their insights and care tips for winter...
By Sapna Rao

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Identify The Problem

“The skin on our lips is so delicate, sensitive and exposed, yet it amazes me how many people don’t prioritise their lips as part of their daily skincare routine. To put it in perspective, the skin on the lips has three to five cellular layers, while the rest of the face has up to 16. This is why your mouth is so vulnerable to heat, cold, light and touch. It’s also worth noting that lips don’t have sweat or sebaceous glands, so they don’t secrete the natural hydrolipidic film that protects the rest of the skin on our face and body – hence why they chap and become dry if they’re not tended to correctly.” Zoë Taylor, make-up artist & SheerLuxe beauty contributor

Resist Licking Your Lips

“Lips struggle with holding water and moisture, and therefore can’t keep themselves hydrated on their own. This is due to the outer layer of skin being unusually thin. They also lack sebaceous glands and melanin, so in the winter months especially, they are more at risk. Pair this with ultra-drying external factors like household heating and you’re left with chapping and dryness. This is often when we’ll lick our lips to moisten them. However, saliva doesn’t hydrate or nourish; it only irritates the lips further.” Dr Sam Bunting, cosmetic dermatologist & founder of Dr Sam’s

Don't Rely On Lip Balm

“Although there’s that initial feeling of relief when you apply a lip balm, over time they can set up a cycle of lip balm addiction as irritation develops. When you probe the ingredients list of most lip balms, they’re full of things that serve no purpose beyond the sensorial, and are even potentially hazardous, especially when applied to dried-out lips which they can penetrate even further. The top three things to try and eliminate if you feel this applies to you are fragrance, flavourings and salicylic acid. Also, it’s worth being conscious of pigments in lipstick which can be irritating.” – Dr Sam

Protect Them From The Sun

“This is especially relevant at higher altitudes while skiing, so be sure to make lip UV protection a priority to avoid discomfort and premature ageing. The quality of lip balms with SPF are getting better – but it can be a challenge to find one that is high protection, hydrating and non-irritating. However, Paula's Choice and Elta MD are both doing a really good job in this space.” – Dr Sam


Although there’s that INITIAL FEELING OF RELIEF when you apply a lip balm, over time they can set up a cycle of lip balm addiction as irritation develops.

Avoid Certain Ingredients

“Retinoids cause dryness when they come into contact with our lips and can even trigger itching, redness and frank dermatitis. It usually comes about as an accident – we inadvertently swipe our fingers over our lips when applying our night-time retinoid for example. Try your best to protect your lips by generously applying your favourite lip-balm first. Be sure to work it into the corners of the mouth, where skincare products can sometimes pool and cause trouble. If you do experience any reaction after applying a retinol, apply a 1% hydrocortisone cream onto red, cracked, irritated corners of the mouth to get you out of trouble – but don’t do this for longer than a couple of days.” – Dr Sam

...And Look Out For Others

“As mentioned, lips hold onto water less effectively than in other parts of our body and lack sebaceous glands making them more susceptible to dehydration when exposed to the winter elements. So, the best way to support this delicate barrier is to use ingredients that reduce water evaporating from their surface. We call this transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Great ingredients to look for include petroleum (it’s in Vaseline), lanolin and shea butter. These can be combined with humectants like glycerin or hyaluronic acid, but avoid using humectants alone, as these won’t work in cold low-humidity conditions.” – Dr Sam

“Often, anything that doesn’t include natural or clean ingredients tends to irritate the lips. I love shea butter as it’s such a great, all-round ingredient with healing benefits aplenty. Oils are great, but they should sink immediately into the lips, otherwise they aren’t absorbed properly, and instead sit on the surface and may interfere with other products.” – Zoë

Finally, Build A Dedicated Routine

“My three-part lip care sequence is as follows: scrub, oil, balm. You should always start with a good scrub as it’s a great way to buff off any dry skin and increase blood flow to the area, which helps increase plumpness naturally. My Lip Scrub is full of antioxidants and vitamin C, too, which helps boost collagen. Then, follow up with the Lip Oil. It’s a great way to hydrate fast and help to recover even the driest, most neglected lips. It’s brimming with grape seed and chia seed oil, which both work to boost hydration, elasticity and alleviate irritation. Finally, finish off with the conditioning Lip Balm. Shea butter and Cupuacu seed butter come together to lock in all the nourishment and keep skin strong and healthy, preventing any dryness from creeping in.” – Zoë

For more beauty advice, tips & tutorials, follow @ZoëTaylorMakeUp & @DrSamBunting on Instagram.


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