There’s no doubt about it—dry, chapped lips are one of the worst parts of the winter season. Not only are they annoying and at times painful; they can also make you feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. Heck, just by reading this article you may suddenly feel the urge to reach for your lip balm. But before you do, there are a few things you should know.
Ensuring lip health isn’t quite as simple as just layering on your favorite balm at the first sign of dryness—although it’d be nice if that’s all it took. This is because your lips are very complex and very sensitive—they’re actually 100 times more sensitive than your fingertips. And because they have no oil glands to keep them hydrated and protected from the elements, they’re dependent on you—and your habits—to keep them healthy.
So, let’s take a closer look at some of the unexpected ways you may be drying out your lips.
Your favorite lip balm isn’t actually hydrating. While that new lip balm may smell delicious and promise to leave your lips plump and full, it may be dehydrating your lips. This is because some of the most popular ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, are actually humectants, which pull out moisture.
On their own, these ingredients aren’t necessarily moisturizing, but when paired with protective ingredients, like beeswax, shea butter and assorted oils, your lips will stay silky smooth.
You’re using too much of a good thing. When your lips are dry and chapped, nothing sounds better than smothering them in some soothing lip balm—right? Unfortunately, though, if you’re the kind of person that applies lip balm every hour on the hour, you may be spurring on a cycle of dryness.
This is because your lips, like your skin and scalp, naturally produce oil to counteract dryness. But when you’re always putting on lip balm, you may be training your lips to stop producing oil.
You’re eating irritating foods. If you’re a fan of spicy and salty foods, followed by mint gum, you may be signing up for lip discomfort. That’s because these foods actually cause inflammation and irritation, especially when lips are already dry.
It isn’t only foods, either. Make sure to steer clear of lip balms that have menthol or cinnamon as these may only further inflame already dry lips.
You’re a lip licker or biter. Whether you’re aware of it or not, every time you lick or bite your lips, you’re only intensifying dryness. The hydration that saliva offers—if any at all—is short-lived. While it may seem harmless enough, biting your lips actually loosens dry skin and can make them susceptible to tearing and cracking. Ouch!
And constantly touching your lips doesn’t do you any favors either, especially if you’re peeling off flaky skin. This will only drag out the healing process and may expose your new skin to bacteria and germs.
So, what’s the secret to keeping lips healthy and hydrated?
Now that you know what not to do, you may be wondering what it is you’re supposed to do to keep your lips silky smooth. Here are the 6 moisturizing must-dos that will help you—and your lips—survive the winter months:
1. Stay hydrated.We’re not talking about delicious hot chocolate—unfortunately—it’s all about drinking water.
2. Keep it cozy. When temperatures drop, it’s tempting to turn the thermostat up. Fight the urge by reaching for a snuggly sweater instead.
3. Eat fatty foods. Omega-3 fatty acids are hydrating for your skin and lips. Enjoy salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, eggs, spinach and Brussels sprouts.
4. Go all natural. Not only does this apply to ingredients, but it’s a good rule-of-thumb when it comes to lip health. Lipstick, especially the matte variety, can be dehydrating and irritating.
5. Know when and where. The best time put on lip balm is before bed. This will give your lips several uninterrupted hours to absorb moisture. And don’t skip the skin around the edge of your lips.
6. Talk to the experts. Your lip mark is one-of-a-kind and your healthcare should be, too. For care that’s completely unique to you, work with a Gwinnett Medical Group Primary Careprovider. At the new GMC Primary Care & Specialty Center-Suwanee, you can enjoy the latest treatment options, up-to-date technology and a spa-like environment all in a convenient location that’s close to home.