6 Simple Solutions for Chapped, Dry Lips

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

6 Simple Solutions for Chapped, Dry Lips Photo by hurricanehank / Shutterstock.com

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

Fortunately, those rough, dry lips are a Jack Frost hallmark that can be prevented or treated at little to no cost. 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 care tips, 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 typically can be found at drugstores and big-box retailers for less than $5:

  • Eucerin Aquaphor Lip Repair (also available from online retailers like Amazon, CVS, Target and Walgreens)
  • Yes to Coconut Naturally Smooth Lip Balm (also available from online retailers like Target and Walgreens)

3. Use SPF

Sun damage — which can happen even when it’s cloudy — is a major cause of dry lips, according to Paula Begoun, aka “the Cosmetics Cop.”

So for the daytime, look for a product with what’s known as broad-spectrum sun protection, which we explain in “3 Simple Steps to Protecting Your Skin This Summer.”

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 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 Begoun 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.

How much water do you need? According to the Mayo Clinic:

The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.

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 it by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

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