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The Best Tips to Avoid Dry and Chapped Lips
Chapped Lips: Unpleasant and Uncomfortable
Dry, chapped lips are an unpleasant and very visual reminder of what the weather conditions are like outside. Too hot, too cold or too windy and your lips can act as your own little weather beacon becoming flaky, rough and sore, much to your embarrassment and discomfort. There's a lot you can do to relieve the misery of chapped lips.
The best policy is to prevent chapped lips before they happen. Diet, lifestyle and some minor additions to your skincare regime can go a long way to stopping your lips drying out. If your lips do get chapped, you can easily remedy the situation.
Here are some great tips for chapped lips.
Lip Skin Facts: Why Our Lips Get Chapped
- Most of the skin on our faces has around 16 cellular layers. Our lips, however, have only 3 to 5.
- The lips have no sweat glands or oil producing glands, so no natural protective layer is produced.
Tip #1: Put Up A Barrier
The skin on your lip is thinner than the rest of your skin and lacks a natural barrier of its own (see box opposite). In addition, our mouths are generally always exposed to the elements. These two facts are what cause our lips to often become dry. Fortunately, it's simple to sort this out.
Firstly, invest in a lip balm or lip salve (see below). You may be tempted by petroleum jelly, it's a cheap and effective barrier after all. However, whilst petroleum jelly can stop moisture loss, it won't actually moisturise or repair the skin. Instead, opt for a balm that contains lanolin or natural ingredients and essential oils. A sunscreen is a great ingredient in a lip balm too.
Secondly, cover your lips when the temperature plummets. Pull up your scarf around your mouth and keep the wind at bay. If hot, sunny weather is the problem, shade your face with a wide-brimmed hat.
2 Ways to Exfoliate your Lips
- Put a generous dab of petroleum jelly on your lips. Gently brush your lips with a very soft toothbrush (ie a baby's toothbrush).
- Mix equal amounts of sugar and olive oil. Put on to your lips. Gently remove with a soft cloth (watch the video below!)
How to Make a DIY Lip Scrub
Tip #2: Tweak Your Lifestyle and Diet
Our lifestyle and diet impact on all aspects of our health, lips included. Whilst dry lips isn't the most serious health concern you are likely to face, you could perhaps see your chapped lips as a wake-up call to make some changes to your life. Here are some tips that will boost your lips and your health.
It should come as no surprise that smoking has an adverse effect on the appearance of our lips. Smokers' lips tell their own story; they are particularly dry and lined. Dragging on a cigarette not only robs the lips of what little natural oil they have, but the constant pursing of the lips encourages deep lines. Another good reason to give up.
Keeping hydrated makes a major contribution to clear, healthy skin, lips included. Dehydration shows up quickly in your lips. Make an effort to drink plenty of clear liquids throughout each day.
A great diet makes for great health and great lips too. Stock up on Omega 3 rich foods to keep your lips looking plump and luscious. Walnuts provide a good source of Omega 3; a serving is about an ounce or 14 shelled halves.
Tip #3: Avoidance Tactics
If you want to avoid chapped lips, avoid these habits and medications.
Lip licking can become a major problem in the battle against sore lips. If your lips are dry, licking them is an almost involuntary action. Whilst it provides short lived relief it actually adds to the problem and a vicious cycle is started. Make a conscious effort to stop this habit and, if you know that it is something you are prone to do, don't choose a flavoured lip balm - it will be counter-productive!
Some people's chapped lips are caused by contact dermatitis. If you suddenly get dry lips and have switched skincare products, the two may be linked. You may need to use products for sensitive skins.
Certain medicines can dehydrate the lips. There have been reports that some acne treatments will cause chapping to the mouth. If this happens, see your doctor to discuss alternatives.
Lip Balm Quick Quiz
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Fabulous Lip Balms
If you spend a lot of time outside you really do need to invest in a lip balm to prevent chapped lips. Popular ingredients for balms are lanolin, beeswax, Vitamin E, Shea or Cocoa butter and Olive or Almond Oil.
My advice would be to choose a balm that you can afford in plentiful quantities. This allows you to have a tube or tin in every handbag, every coat pocket, the car, the office drawer - you need never be without one. When I have found my lips particularly uncomfortable there is one cream I turn to: Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream. It's expensive for a lip balm, but it has a multitude of other uses and a long shelf life. Well worth the money.
© 2011 Judith Hancock