6 Simple Solutions for Chapped, Dry Lips


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Cold weather leads to chapped lips. Fortunately, one of Jack Frost's hallmarks can be prevented or treated at little to no cost.

It’s that time of year: snowstorms, icy roadways, heating bills and chapped lips.

Fortunately, at least one of Jack Frost’s hallmarks can be prevented or treated at little to no cost — those rough, dry lips.

Here are some of the most inexpensive but effective tips for restoring chapped lips with little time, effort or money:

1. Exfoliate

Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, a dermatologist based in Washington, D.C., tells Prevention magazine that exfoliation is “a good first step against chapped lips.”

Tanzi’s no-cost suggestion for sloughing away dead skin is to brush your lips with your toothbrush after brushing your teeth.

Other inexpensive methods include gently buffing your lips with a wet washcloth while in the shower, and making your own scrub with table sugar and Vaseline or a generic brand of petroleum jelly. (For more details, check out “14 Professional Makeup Hacks That Cost Next to Nothing.”)

2. Keep lips covered

After exfoliation, apply a moisturizing lip balm. Regular application is key. That means six to eight times per day, according to WebMD.

I keep a stick in my purse, desk, bathroom and nightstand to help me remain diligent.

The following products received the highest rating (five stars) from the Beautypedia product review database based on their formulation and can be found at drugstores and big-box retailers for less than $5:

3. Use SPF

Sun damage — which can happen even when it’s cloudy — is a major cause of dry lips, according to the Paula’s Choice Skincare research team.

So for the daytime, look for a product with what’s known as broad-spectrum sun protection, which we break down in “The ABCs of Sun Protection (Don’t Get Burned by SPFs).”

One example of a well-reviewed product with broad-spectrum protection is Blistex Five Star Lip Protection with SPF 30. It’s available in drugstores for around $2 (and from online retailers like Drugstore.com, Target and Walgreens).

4. Watch out for irritants

Some common lip balm ingredients are actually skin irritants. These include:

  • Camphor
  • Citrus
  • Fragrance
  • Menthol
  • Peppermint

As Paula’s Choice puts it:

These ingredients have no benefit for the lips and end up compounding the problem.

The classic example that’s sold almost everywhere is Carmex Lip Balm. This contains potent irritants that will have you reaching for more Carmex as your lips become drier, perhaps never realizing that it’s the lip balm itself that’s contributing to the problem.

To learn more about irritants, check out “8 Surprising Ways to Ruin Your Skin.”

5. Drink more water

Consuming water helps to ward off the dehydration that leads to chapped lips, according to WebMD.

The nonprofit National Academies of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine recommends that adult women drink 2.7 liters (about 91 ounces or 0.7 gallons) of water daily and adult men drink 3.7 liters (about 125 ounces or 1 gallon).

6. Avoid licking your lips

Licking your lips repeatedly can damage their thin skin. When the air is dry, the moisture created by licking quickly evaporates, prompting us to repeat the motion again and again.

As Dr. Barbara Reed, a dermatologist based in Denver, puts it to U.S. News & World Report:

“If you’ve ever seen a desert after rain comes, you know the surface gets very flaky. The same thing happens to our lips.”

What’s your best tip for preventing or treating chapped or dry lips? Share them in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Stacy Johnson

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