Aug 23, 2022 · 5 min read
When it comes to keeping your skin hydrated in the winter months, the struggle is real. Your skin gets drier, and the cold, dry air only makes matters worse, especially for your lips. This is how to take care of dry, chapped lips, according to skin experts.
Before we dive into the details of a solid lip care routine, let's discuss just what causes dry, flaky lips. Chapped lips can be caused by dry air, as well as cold winter winds. Dry skin on your lips can also be a sign that you’re dehydrated, or that you’re using the wrong products—ingredients such as alcohol can be drying and irritating. Not to mention, sunburn doesn’t just happen in summertime—sun protection is important at all times of year. Sunburn on any part of your body can cause dehydration, which can lead to dry, cracked lips. Plus, your lips themselves can get sunburned, which can cause them to feel painful and chapped.
The skin on your lips is some of the thinnest and most sensitive there is, so it’s important to care for them, beyond just maintaining appearances. Here are our pro tips for keeping your lips happy, healthy, and hydrated.
When it’s cold and windy out, wrapping a scarf around your face will help keep your nose from freezing off and protect your lips from getting dried out.
Avoid ingredients in lip balms such as eucalyptus, menthol, and camphor — these can dry out or irritate your lips. We also recommend avoiding perfumes (fragrances made of essential oils can be fine though!) and sulfates SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate), which can irritate your skin or clog your pores.
Licking your lips might feel hydrating in the moment, but it actually contributes to your lips getting dried out and irritated in dry and/or cold conditions. Don’t pick at any dry, flaky skin on the lips, either — this will only irritate the sensitive skin even more.
Try a lip balm with SPF! Sun protection for your face and body are essential to every skincare routine. Spoiler: Your lips can get sunburned, which isn’t a fun experience. Consider incorporating a lip balm with broad-spectrum UV protection, like the SPF 30 lip balm by Curology with 9.4% zinc oxide.
Look for rich, creamy lip balms rather than water-based ones. Ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, beeswax, petroleum, rosehip oil, and shea butter help to lock in moisture and protect your lips from the elements.
One problem for people with acne-prone skin is that many lip balms contain coconut oil, aka cocos nucifera oil. Coconut oil for skin may be hydrating, but it can be pore-clogging in some cases. If you get pimples around your mouth, reach for lip products with non-comedogenic ingredients.
The lip balm by Curology is non-clogging and vegan. It’s designed for everyone, including those with acne-prone or sensitive skin. It comes in 5 varieties, including mint, passionfruit, vanilla, flavor-free original, and SPF 30, all made with chapped lips in mind. It’s a nourishing, buttery formula that locks in lasting moisture (so you can re-apply less).
Rosebud Salve by Rosebud Perfume Co. is a simple (and affordable) classic . It doesn’t contain pore-clogging coconut oil, and as a bonus, it’s widely available at many stores.
Kiss Freely Allergy Friendly Lip Balm is formulated without coconut oil—instead, it hydrates with candelilla wax, squalene oil, jojoba oil, castor oil, and essential oils.
Akar Skin Pure Lip Restoration is another non-comedogenic lip balm that deep-conditions your skin without the pore-clogging risk. It may seem a bit pricey, but one pot lasts a long time, and it’s made with ingredients that nourish your skin without clogging pores.
Raw shea butter is another good option to use on your lips; it’s a common ingredient in some of the best lip balms. Is shea butter comedogenic? Nope — it’s a great alternative to coconut oil for that reason.
If you have dry cracked lips that won’t heal, or just need extra moisture, try adding a hydrating serum or oil underneath your lip balm. Yes, there are serums especially for your lips! But pretty much any face oil or oil-based serum you use on your face can also be used on your lips. Layer your lip balm on top of a little oil or serum, and you’ll lock in even more hydration and your lips will have that dewy glow.
No need for gender-specific products here! Any lip balm you find at the drugstore or in the skincare aisle (at any grocery store, Target, Walmart, etc.) will work just fine. Some balms are shinier than others, however, so you might want to look for one that has a matte finish. The lipbalm by Curology or Le Labo Lip Balm aren't glossy, so it works well for women and men, and it doesn’t contain pore-clogging ingredients.
If you ever have beard acne or pimples around the mouth, check the ingredients of any lip balm you’ve been using for pore-blocking ingredients such as coconut oil and cocoa butter.
Depending what color and finish you’re looking for, there are plenty of options out there, but any tinted lip balm that doesn’t contain pore-clogging ingredients such as coconut oil or cocoa butter will do the trick. You can also layer your favorite color lipstick on top of a clear lip balm to get the hydrating benefits and the exact look you’re going for!
Akar Skin Ruby Lip Restoration has a nice red tint and is made from hydrating, skin-nourishing, non-comedogenic butters and oils.
Sunscreen can also help protect and heal chapped lips. Sun exposure can contribute to the problem—yep, even in the winter! Curology’s broad-spectrum SPF 30 lip balm, which is made with 9.4% zinc oxide mineral protection, can help to keep your lips hydrated and protected against harmful UV rays. Another lip balm with SPF is EltaMD UV Lip Balm Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 31. You can also use a little bit of your face sunscreen on your lips, then layer lip balm and/or your favorite lip color on top.
Vaseline Lip Therapy Advanced Healing Moisturizer is a great, affordable, widely available option that doesn't contain pore-clogging ingredients. (The Vaseline Lip Therapy Cocoa Butter balm, however, could potentially block pores!) You can also pick up some raw shea butter or any other brand of pure petroleum balm (e.g. Vaseline or Aquaphor) at most drugstores. Just keep an eye on those ingredients lists!
You may be tempted to exfoliate your lips when they’ve got dry, flaky skin, but be careful not to rub them the wrong way. Instead, pamper and protect your lips, and they’ll recover before long! To gently exfoliate your lips, you could try a lip balm like ILIA Balmy Nights, which is rich in non-comedogenic oils and shea butter but has a slightly gritty texture.
Whatever the weather, Curology’s got your simple skincare solution. New to Curology? You can try it all for free: the lip balm, cleanser and moisturizer set, and, of course, your Custom Formula with a mix of active ingredients chosen for you by a dermatology provider. Just take a quick skin quiz and send us some selfies. If Curology is right for you, we’ll send you a 30-day supply of our recommended products for just $4.95 to cover the cost of shipping and handling.*
This article was originally published on January 21, 2019, and updated on August 23, 2022.
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Donna McIntyre, NP-BC