Everyone has struggled with peeling, flaking, cracking, dry, chapped lips at some point. Sometimes the thin, dry skin on the lips becomes so fragile that your slightest smile can turn into a grimace of pain. When choosing the best lip balm for chapped lips, keep in mind that it's easier to prevent chapped lips than to cure them.
Chapped lips are dry and scaly, and they may have small cracks or fissures. When they are chapped, your lips can be hypersensitive to heat or cold, spicy or salty foods or even medicated lip balms that are supposed to treat the problem. Your lips may swell and appear redder than usual, or they may peel and split. Chapped lips are often dismissed because everyone gets them for various reasons, but you don't have to suffer.
Causes of Chapped Lips
Since lips don't have glands that produce the kind of oil that protects the skin, they can't protect themselves from extreme weather. If you live in a climate that has cold, dry winters, you should protect your lips when you head into the cold and when you use indoor heating. On the opposite end of the spectrum, beach goers need to protect their lips with a sunscreen product with at least an SPF of 15 or higher. Regardless of your geography, it is always wise to protect your lips with a moisturizing lip balm or ointment that has sunscreen in it.
Chapped lips may also be the result of other products you use. Many skin care products and cosmetics can contain ingredients that cause irritation or allergic reactions, especially on the sensitive lip area. Lip plumpers are actually designed to irritate your lips so they look bigger. If you are using a lip plumper, you might need to counteract the irritation with lip balm. Whether you're trying a new lip plumper or cleanser, be especially aware when you begin using a new product, and watch to see if your skin reacts to it. Many skin care products are hypoallergenic and are made from gentle ingredients that are less likely to cause a problem.
Many medications can cause excessive drying of the skin, including chapped lips. Certain acne medications and other skin medications contain retinoids, which have an overall dehydrating effect on the entire body and can exacerbate chapped lips. In these cases, if the medicine cannot be changed, the best thing you can do is keep your body well hydrated and wear that extra layer of moisture on the lips. Vitamin imbalances, such as a lack of B vitamins, can also contribute to chapped lips. Regulating the intake of your vitamins is the key to compensating for this type of chapping.
Perhaps one of the most common causes of chapped lips, however, is due to human behavior. Are you a lip-licker? This habit will lead to chapped lips. Try to stop yourself if you feel the need to lick your lips. The moisture is temporary, and you'll only dry out your lips. The point of a lip balm is to hold in the body's moisture and to protect the lips from the elements, but lip-licking only leaves the lips bare.
No matter what the cause, make sure you drink plenty of water in general, as that helps prevent dehydration from the inside out, and the lip balm can help hold the moisture in.
How to Treat Chapped Lips
The best treatment for chapped lips is an oil-based lubricating cream or moisturizing lip balm that contains either petroleum or beeswax. You should apply the treatment before going outdoors and reapply often while you are exposed to the sun, wind or cold, or if you lick it off.
Not all lip balm products are the same. It's important to pay attention to the ingredients so that you don't wind up using a product that actually contributes to your chapped lips rather than helping them. Try to avoid using products that contain ingredients like camphor, menthol or phenol, which can help make a cold sore feel better but might irritate chapped lips. These ingredients provide that tingling sensation when they are applied, which is often thought to be a sign of healing. In actuality, these ingredients might dry your lips even more and can cause a reaction on your already injured lips. Instead, stick to lip balm products that will add and retain moisture in your lips. If your lips are chapped due to an allergic reaction from a cosmetic or skin care product, discontinue use of the product and see a doctor if symptoms persist.
Also consider taste when buying a lip balm. The balm shouldn't have a strong taste, either good or bad. If the balm makes you want to lick your lips, you should try a new balm.
One way to lock in moisture on your lips is by using a lipstick rather than a gloss when applying your makeup. Lip gloss does little to moisturize your lips. It simply adds cosmetic shine. Lipsticks are of a thicker consistency, stay on longer than a gloss and provide a protective barrier from both the weather and licking.
Many people confuse chapped lips with the beginning stages of a cold sore, but they are two very different things. The dry, flaky, peeling symptoms of chapped lips can trigger the outbreak of a cold sore, but cold sores are caused by a virus.
A cold sore is a blister that is filled with pus and appears as a raised bump on the lip or the skin directly above the lips. The confusion likely comes from the fact that in the day or two prior to seeing the blister, the area is painful and tingling, which is similar to how chapped lips feel. Cold sores usually clear up naturally and do not require any medical treatment. If you suffer from frequent outbreaks, however, your doctor may prescribe a topical ointment.
If you know how to make lip balm, you have the option of creating perfectly delicious treats for yourself and for others.
Who invented lip gloss? Cosmetics fans worldwide have a man named Max Factor to thank.