What to Do About Dry, Chapped Lips This Winter

What to Do About Dry, Chapped Lips This Winter

Dry, chapped lips is probably the most universal skincare issue of them all. And although the condition can plague us year-round (sigh), it definitely gets worse during winter. The good news is there are some fairly easy ways to address the problem. 

We tapped dermatologist Karan Lal, M.D., of Affiliated Dermatology Scottsdale, Arizona, to learn about common causes, how to get rid of chapped lips, and shed some light on all things winter lip care—including how to prevent them in the first place.

What are chapped lips, anyway?

Chapped lips occur when the skin on our lips dries out—which, unfortunately, happens easily. Because our lips don’t have oil glands and therefore don’t produce sebum, they don’t have the same natural protectant that the rest of our skin does. So while all of our skin is affected by the elements—common causes of chapped lips (and dry skin, too) include dry weather or sun exposure—our lips are especially vulnerable.

What causes chapped lips during winter?

Blame those elements again. “In the winter, we use heat to stay warm from the cold weather. [It’s also] cold,” says Dr. Lal. “Both of these environmental changes dry out our lips.”

A certain habit could also be compounding dryness: “In addition to dry air, heat, and wind, licking your lips can dry them out,” says the derm. When the saliva evaporates, you’re left worse off than before. “Our lips get chapped and we lick them, thinking that will moisten them, but actually, our saliva removes protective oils from our lips rendering them even drier,” he explains.

It’s not just your lips you have to worry about—dry air can affect many skin conditions, including psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema.

And if your home is especially dry during the cooler months, consider a humidifier to help add some moisture to your room. (Feel free to add some eucalyptus while you sleep to really level up your wellness routine.) Hydration is the name of the game when it comes to preventing flaky lips.

What are the best ways to prevent chapped lips?

Sure, we all want to know how to cure chapped lips fast, but we can also prevent them from happening at all. First, no more lip licking. Seriously—stop. Licking. Your. Lips. And you’ve no doubt heard it before, but it bears repeating: Stay hydrated. “The best thing to do, first and foremost, is drink lots of water,” says Dr. Lal.

Lip products, of course, also help. Our new Odyssey Lip Oil Gloss is a great way to keep your lips hydrated with some juicy color. It’s a high-shine gloss that’s got all the benefits of a lip oil, thanks to ingredients like antioxidant-rich jojoba oil, soothing goji berry extract, and cloudberry seed oil that help hydrate your lips so they look smooth and feel comfortable, no matter the season. (The subtle vanilla fragrance is a nice touch, too!)

“Use thick emollients to keep your lips moist and protected throughout the environmental changes,” Dr. Lal also suggests. If you’re looking for something other than lip balm, you’ve got options: Vaseline and/or petroleum jelly are tried-and-true fragrance-free ways to keep your lips from flaking.

Like the rest of your skin, lips are also prone to sun damage year-round. So whenever possible, wear sunscreen and a product with SPF to keep lips protected, too. Sun protection is an always-on effort. And make sure you’re keeping the rest of your skin moisturized! Do it daily—keep an eye out for products with shea butter or coconut oil, which work wonders on skin.

The good news: Unlike some other health conditions, chapped lips are relatively easy to tackle. “Chapped lips can be healed,” says Dr. Lal. However, he warns that in cases of severe chapped lips, “It does take a long time—often the length of the season.”

Flying tubes of Milk Makeup Odyssey Lip Oil Gloss on a white background 

What are the best treatments for chapped lips?

To treat and prevent dry, chapped lips, use lip balm.  But not just any lip balm will do (in fact, some products can exacerbate the problem), especially in the dead of winter.  Our Milk Makeup X Awake NY Lip Balm is made with cocoa butter, avocado oil, and vitamin E to nourish dry lips (and it comes in a sleeve so you always have it close). 

In short: The best way to battle chapped lips is with a helping of moisture, so make sure you’ve got your lip balm on deck all winter long.

Model applies Milk Makeup X Awake Lip Balm on a white background


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