One of the reoccurring seasonal concerns I support my clients through is prickly hot discomfort of winter chapped, dry, peeling lips. There are lots of practices we can embrace to keep our lips soft and comfortable as well as remedies to get them back on track when they get chapped.
Stop Licking your Lips
Licking is a double edged sword. When we lick we feel that small moment of relief, which quickly turns into more burning, stinging horribleness. Unfortunately there are a couple different things occuring during the licking process that are going to exasperate your condition.
- The saliva will quickly evaporate taking the hydration of your lips with it. This inevitably leaves your lips feeling hot and tight, creating an even stronger urge to lick them again.
- Saliva contains digestive enzymes. That’s why Raina and I are always going on about CHEWING your friggin’ food… because digestion starts in your mouth. These enzymes (amylase and maltase) are great for starting our digestion, but they also can break down the delicate skin on the lips. This repeated action will leave the lips more vulnerable to cold, dry air. Before you know it you have peeling, split, bleeding lips.
Before your leave the house… think! Are you going to be out in the cold? How long are you going to be out there? Walking the dog, skiing and snowshoeing… OHH Myyy!
- Have your lip balm on before you go and then put it in your pocket! Be prepared so you don’t start the lip-licking trip up cycle.
- Wear a scarf to protect your lips from the cold and wind.
- Ensure your lip balm contains SPF if you are enjoying a sunny day of outdoor fun.
- Drink water!
Dry heat of indoor heating will PARCH your lips. Check the humidity in your home.
- Adjust the humidity setting on your furnace
- Run your diffuser WITHOUT essential oils (the time frame needed to support humidity is WAY too long to safely use it for essential oil therapy)
- Consider purchasing a humidifier
- Stay hydrated
Make Lip Care Part of Your Ritual
It’s AMAZING how much our body can repair and replenish its self when we set it up for success ( yes… PRACTICES … not solely products). Taking time to care for our lips before bed will assist in starting each day with comfortable, healthy lips.
Here’s a few skin care practices I encourage people to do (and avoid doing) to support winter lip health:
- At night, wash lips gently with a gentle cleansing oil and cool water. If you are a foam, gel or bar person…. Just use cool water. The cleanser will be more harm then help.
- Ensure toners, retinoids, glycolics and hydroxy (Alpha and Beta) products stay away from mouth area, not just the lips.
- Generously apply lip products that contain a plant-based wax or beeswax *, soothing and protective ingredients like coco butter or shea butter. (I always advocate the hardest for products with the additional to healing power of calendula).
- Ditch lip balms with added flavoring, colors, fragrances or petroleum.
- Shelf lip plumping products.
- Avoid use of lip or oral care with cinnamon, menthol or eucalyptus.
- Avoid foods that hurt: Salty, spicy or acidic.
- Drink water (yeah.. I know I keep saying it. Seriously. Do it!)
- Avoid picking at peeling at lips. I get it, I’m terrible about getting my teeth involved and ripping the skin off, making the situation even worse.
- In the morning GENTLY use a SOFT bristle tooth brush or soft cotton face cloth to exfoliate the skin that is ready to come off. Friendly reminder… this is your face, not a pot or pan. NO SCRUBBING!
If using these self care tips hasn’t resolved your lip issues in a couple weeks, its time to visit your doctor (MD or ND). This could be an indication of an allergic reaction, vitamin or mineral deficiency ( vitamin B and zinc are most common). Persistant chapped lips can can also be a sign of infection (this can be triggered by virus, bacteria or yeast)
*Beeswax and lanolin are common ingredients in natural/non-toxic lip balms. As a vegan I understand these may be an ingredients some of you wish to avoid. Huna Lip Shine and Elate Better Balm only contain plant based waxes.