A lot of things contribute to dry lips, including sunlight, cosmetics, wind, food, dry air and of course, cold weather.
The issue of dry and chapped lips dates all the way back to Cleopatra’s time around 40 BC, and ever since then people have experimented with oils, beeswax and other natural ingredients to find a cure.
Considering that dry lips still remain an issue to this day, it’s no surprise that all the quick fixes on the market fall short.When it comes to understanding why the issue of dry and chapped lips has lingered, there are a few important things to note.
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Female applying lip balm, close up, side view
Credit: Jonathan Knowles
According to an article on The Conversation written by associate professor of science and medicine Christian Moro and PhD student Charlotte Phelps, lips have a protective outside layer of skin, but lack certain things like sweat, saliva and oil glands.
“This unique structure means they’re particularly prone to dryness as they have a much lower ability to hold water than the rest of the face’s skin,” says the authors.
Cold weather is one of the main causes for dry lips, but it turns out there is a long list of other reasons too. These include skin conditions, allergies, certain medications, tongue injuries or dental issues, poor oral health, burns, dehydration, or persistent licking of the lips.
If the sole cause of your dry lips is cold, windy or dry weather, then a balm should do the trick. The best choice for hydration and protection is a bland balm or ointment that is non-irritating and unflavoured.
Many lip balms add in a number of unnecessary ingredients such as fragrances, flavours, colours, and gloss which make the balm more appealing in scent, taste and look. However, these additives don’t help maintain a barrier function on your lips.
Other ingredients to avoid include menthol, phenol or salicylic acid which can all dry out your lips. Camphor, lanolin, octinoxate, oxybenzone and propyl gallate are also problematic.
While a good lip balm can be a godsend, it’s also important to check your hydration levels and avoid biting and excessively licking your lips. Protecting against sun damage is another good habit to adopt. Luckily there are some top notch lip balms that include SPF.
If the weather isn’t the only cause for dry lips, it might be more helpful to discuss the issue with a medical professional.