Even people who never really experience skin problems can find winter a challenge, especially when it comes to our lips. We’re talking cold, dry air and winds outside, then central heating inside… all together it’s easy to see why our lips become dry, tight, chapped and cracked.
Dr Anton Alexandroff of the British Association of Dermatologists explains “Our lips are particularly vulnerable to as they are so often exposed to the elements, and the skin is thinner than on other parts of our body.”
The skin on our lips has just three to five cellular layers, compared to typical facial skin, which has up to 16 layers.
The lips also lack the oil glands found in other parts of the skin. Therefore as the weather gets colder and there is less humidity, the outdoor air combined with the indoor central heating can dehydrate our skin and cause lips to crack, peel and bleed – a condition known as common cheilitis.”
Many of us take care to cover exposed skin, such as our hands, heads or ears, but often our lips are left exposed to the elements.
So what can we do to protect our kissers and make sure painful lips are a thing of the past?
Here are our top five tips to look after your lips in winter…
1) Don’t lick your lips
Often a subconscious reflex when your lips feel dry, but try really hard not to lick them to moisten them! Not only does it not help sort dry lips, licking them actually makes it worse as saliva will make them dry out even faster.
The enzymes that are in your saliva to help digest food can even irritate your lips, so try to make sure you’ve always got a lip balm to hand to prevent the urge to lick them in the first place.
2) Pop lip balm on before you go to sleep
Not just for when you’re out and about! Most of us sleep with our mouths open, which equals about 7-8 hours of breathing which can really dry out our lips.
Popping on a good lip balm before you go to bed can help mitigate this drying effect and allow them to heal from being outside in the cold during the winter days.
3) Speaking of lip balms – try to avoid those containing menthol or eucalyptus.
Perhaps you’ve caught a winter cold, or perhaps you just like the smell and feel of these ingredients?
If you’re trying to heal, soothe and prevent dry, chapped lips, we recommend you avoid lip balms that contain these menthol or eucalyptus as they do the opposite and dry out the lips.
4) DO use a lip balm that contains natural butters and oils
We know you might expect us to say this, as we only use natural butters and oils in our lip balms, but the size of the individual molecules really matter.
Lots of synthetic ingredients have large molecules that just sit on the surface of the skin – they can’t sink in and heal the deeper skin layers.
Natural butters and oils have a good combination of molecule sizes – some small ones that will sink in and get to work immediately, other slightly larger ones that will initially provide a protective barrier, which is then absorbed over time.
5) Resist the urge to scrub or peel flaky lips
It’s really tempting, isn’t it, to pull at a loose bit of skin on your lips, but it’s a really bad idea!
Scrubbing your lips or trying to remove dry skin will create cracks and sores, inevitably making things worse. Get a good, rich lip balm instead and apply a thick layer to help the skin heal (and hopefully if you follow all these steps you shouldn’t have flaky skin to begin with).
Not got a trusty lip balm or two to hand? Well you’ve come to the right place – check out our vegan, natural lip balms and prepare to banish sore winter lips once and for all!