Skin, Lip and Body Care

7 Habits to Break to Enjoy Smoother, Softer Lips

+ Britta Aragon

Is there anything more frustrating than trying to take care of your lips in the cold, dry weather?

They seem to dry and flake so easily. From there, it doesn’t take much to get them bleeding. It’s uncomfortable and unattractive.

We all want those smooth-looking, plump and healthy lips, but it can be difficult to get them, and once we do, to maintain them.

I’ve got some tips for you. Below are seven mistakes you’re likely making when it comes to taking care of your lips, and what you can do to bring back that youthful, soft look.

Why Lips Get Dry So Easily

You may wonder why your lips get dry so easily. You may apply balm and apply balm and notice little difference. What’s going on?

The problem is that the outer layer of skin on the lips is super thin and transparent, compared to the outer layer on the rest of your skin. The lips actually appear red because the blood vessels are so near the surface, and because that outer layer is so thin that it allows the color to shine through.

Lips can look blue in the winter for this reason, too. When the body temperature drops, less oxygen flows through the blood vessels in the lips, making them appear bluish. Lips are lacking the sebaceous glands that the rest of the skin has, so they produce none of their own moisture, and they don’t sweat. That means they lose water really quickly, some say up to ten times faster than other parts of the face and body.

In the cold, dry weather, lips really have no way to protect themselves. The air saps water from them, and they dry out easily. In the warmer weather, the sun can do the same thing, triggering dryness and causing flaking.

Even washing your face can cause your lips to dry out, as they have no way to recover after the soap and water deplete them of moisture. Both the cleanser and the rubbing tend to cause chapping, and then you dry off your face, leaving the lips dehydrated and rough.

7 Mistakes You’re Making with Your Lips

Let’s look at seven things you may be doing to make chapped lips worse.

1. Using the wrong lip balm.

This may be one of the biggest mistakes people make. Many of the common lip balms out there are full of petrolatum. It forms a seal over lips, which helps reduce water loss, but it provides no additional moisture. Over time, it can actually lead to over-drying. Petrolatum often contains impurities, as well, that can irritate skin.

Many lip balms contain other irritants like menthol, camphor, and flavoring chemicals that can increase inflammation and dryness, while leading to sensitivity and irritation, as well.

You need a balm with nourishing ingredients that will encourage healing and restore moisture and softness. We recommend our Restorative Skin Balm, as it does just that. It’s petrolatum-free, and contains sea buckthorn oil, calendula, vitamin E, and real oils that help smooth and regenerate damaged skin. It also has natural anti-inflammatory ingredients that encourage repair.

Whatever product you end up using, read the ingredient list. Avoid those with petrolatum, flavorings, and harsh chemical ingredients. Find something that will help you get out of that cycle of dryness.

2. Licking your lips.

You probably already know this one, but it’s worth a reminder. When the lips get dry, we naturally lick them. It’s a natural response, but it only makes the problem worse. The saliva evaporates, leaving the skin dryer than ever. Take a nourishing balm with you instead, and use that whenever you feel your lips are dry.

3. Using drying cosmetics.

I’ve tried so many lipsticks over the years that dry out my lips. It’s so frustrating. You put on this luscious color and a few minutes later your lips are dry and the cracks and wrinkles are more visible than ever before.

Matte lipsticks and long-wearing brands are often the worst for this. The dry formula dehydrates the skin and makes it even more sensitive to environmental irritants. Many lipsticks also contain chemical ingredients like parabens, preservatives, dyes, and some impurities, possibly even lead.

Purchase your lip color products from companies that are careful about their ingredients. Look for those that include natural moisturizers and that help sustain moisture rather than deplete it.

4. You’re generally dehydrated.

Even slight dehydration will show up quickly on your lips. Many of us forget to keep drinking during the day, which can result in that chapped, dry look by the time the afternoon rolls around.

Try to keep a water bottle with you at all times, and keep sipping. Particularly in the colder weather we often forget to drink water, so set little reminders for yourself.

5. You’ve forgotten sun protection.

You probably apply sunscreen to your face every day, but what about your lips? They are the most sensitive to damaging UV rays, yet we often leave them bare and vulnerable.

Fortunately, there are a lot of balms out there today that include sun-protecting ingredients. You could use your regular SPF moisturizer on your lips, but the problem is that it will evaporate quickly, or may smudge off as you eat and drink throughout the day. A balm with SPF will last a little longer on the lips. Look for one that has quality ingredients in it.

6. You’re breathing through your mouth.

If you wake up with chapped lips, this may be the problem. If you have a cold or suffer from allergies, you may be a mouth breather. It’s that air constantly passing over your lips that dries them out.

Work with your doctor to clear up your sinuses, and meanwhile, apply extra protection to your lips at night, to help them cope. (Smearing some honey over the lips may be a good solution.) Reapply first thing in the morning, and keep it up throughout the day. Try to remind yourself to breathe through your nose as much as you can.

7. You’re not getting enough vitamin B.

If you are low on your vitamin B, that can cause dry lips. The skin needs vitamin B to maintain itself, and to fend off any infections. Foods like dairy products, eggs, green leafy veggies, beans, nuts, and lean meats are good sources.

Be aware that many things can interfere with your absorption of vitamin B, including alcohol and medications like birth control pills, acid-reflux drugs, and diabetes medications. Those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet may also be low on vitamin B. In these cases, you may want to consider supplements.

Tips for Treating Chapped Lips

In addition to changing the bad habits above, you can also step up the lip care with these tips:

  • As mentioned above, choose nourishing, moisturizing lip balms. Avoid those with petrolatum, menthol, flavorings, and other irritants.
  • Use a humidifier in your bedroom.
  • Be careful of your lips while cleansing-apply a balm right after you dry off.
  • Use a gentle lip scrub to get rid of dryness and flaking. Those with fruit acids are best.
  • Apply a thick layer of moisturizer on the lips at night. Choose a thick balm or natural product like honey or coconut oil.
  • Drink more water throughout the day.
  • Protect your lips with sunscreen.

How do you keep your lips soft and smooth?

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