Chapped lips happen. They’re annoying at best, painful at worst. And sure, a heavy-duty lip balm helps, but that soothing is just temporary. You need to address the cause of the problem. Here’s how to do it with ingredients that may already be sitting in your kitchen.
Reasons for Cracked and Dry Lips
First off, you should understand why chapped lips happen. And some of these reasons may surprise you.
Our lips don’t contain oil glands like the rest of our skin, so one of the most common reasons we will experience dry or cracked skin on our lips is dehydration. You don’t have to be dying of thirst to be dehydrated, either. Dehydration can occur if you don’t drink enough water (remember–you may not be thirsty, but water is still very important). Drinking lattes or sodas won’t do much good when it comes to your skin since caffeine is a major culprit in dehydration. The general rule is 8×8 (eight 8-ounce glasses per day).
Licking Your Lips
Trying to alleviate the problem naturally may actually be making it worse. Lips that are already dry can become worse with frequent licking, as the saliva evaporates and takes the moisture in our lips along with it. Biting and chewing your lips can also have the same effect, so try and kick that habit to the curb if it applies to you.
Winter Weather and Indoor Heating
Winter can be cold and windy, which can zap moisture from your skin, including your lips. When you’re outside, be sure to use a thick lip balm to keep the moisture in your lips. Avoid ingredients like salicylic acid that can dry skin out even more (often found in “medicated lip balm”). Look for nourishing ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, sunflower oil, cocoa butter, Vitamin E, olive oil, honey, beeswax, or lanolin. Your indoor heating may also be keeping the air in your home dry. If you’re using the heater often, try using a humidifier to keep moisture in the air.
Many toothpaste brands contain sodium lauryl sulfate, an ingredient that is known to cause excessive dryness and chapping of the lips. If your toothpaste has this ingredient or other synthetic ingredients, switch to a new brand. You should check any other products you apply near your mouth while you’re at it, as many contain dehydrating alcohols, which also contribute to chapped skin.
Medications or Vitamin Deficiencies
Some medications can cause dry lips. Prescription drugs for acne, high blood pressure, and nausea may cause dryness. A vitamin deficiency could also be the culprit. A lack of zinc, B vitamins, vitamin A, or iron could increase dryness of the lips. If you think your dry lips are caused by a medication or vitamin deficiency, talk to your doctor.
Home Remedies for Chapped and Dry Lips
An easy, one-ingredient home remedy that tastes sweet and leaves your lips soft is honey! Apply a small amount of pure honey on your lips a few times a day, and it should begin to soften the skin and make it less brittle. Manuka honey from New Zealand is pricey but can be even more effective because of its increased antibacterial properties (which is helpful when your lips are cracked and bleeding).
Everyone loves coconut oil! It’s a multipurpose home and beauty product that you can use for lips, skin, hair, and cuticles. Aside from being a killer makeup remover, it’s a natural moisturizer that can help heal dry and chapped lips, especially those caused by cold weather. Olive oil, sunflower oil, or jojoba oil can also be used, but many people prefer the flavor of coconut oil. Remember to use just a fingertip’s worth.
If your lips are covered with dry, dead skin (but not bleeding), try a simple sugar scrub to make them soft and supple again. Simply mix a small amount of sugar with a teaspoon of olive, jojoba, or coconut oil. Apply directly to your lips, leave it on for a few minutes, and then gently scrub. You can also purchase a lip scrub from the store, but make sure to choose one without fragrances, citrus essential oils, or anything that will irritate your sensitive skin.
Chapped, Red, Dry, or Scaly Lips
If none of these home remedies work for you, you’re staying hydrated, and you aren’t using any products that could contribute to the problem, consider consulting your primary care physician. They may be able to find an underlying cause of your excessively dry or chapped lips and offer additional remedies to restore your lips to their soft and natural glory.