Chapped lips are an all-too-familiar winter nuisance; we all know the uncomfortable and sometimes painful feeling of dry, flaky chapped lips. Thankfully, a few easy and healthy habits can make a huge difference in how your lips fare in the winter weather.
Keep in mind that prevention is always better than a cure, so even if your lips feel healthy and happy, extra care in the winter months will make sure they stay that way! If you follow the tips below, you'll be amazed at how smooth and supple your lips will be, not matter how cold it gets outside!
INVEST IN A HIGH-QUALITY LIP BALM
This may sound like a no-brainer, but using a good lip balm is the best way to combat winter dryness. Not every lip balm is created equal though, and some can actually do more harm than good in the long run. Here are a few things to look for when shopping for your next go-to balm:
These form the base of any lip balm - they're the ingredients that are intended to soften and moisturize the skin. Here is what to look for and what to ditch:
- Steer clear of petroleum-based ingredients like petroleum jelly and mineral oil. These products are refined from petroleum oil, and they can become contaminated with carcinogenic agents called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAs) during the manufacturing process. Although there is much debate about the risk of contamination, the benefits of these oh-so-common skincare ingredients do not outweigh their potential risks: petroleum jelly and mineral oil are occlusive, meaning they create a barrier at the skin surface so moisture and air cannot move in and out. While this does help to hold any existing moisture in, it can actually cause your lips to dry out further if there isn't enough moisture in them to begin with. And, if the petroleum product does happen to contain any toxins, this also helps these nasties penetrate more easily into the skin! Lastly, compared to plant oils and butters, petroleum-based products have little to offer in terms of delivering helpful vitamins and nutrients to parched lips.
- Opt for a lip balm with natural and organic ingredients you can trust. Plant-based emollients offer a host of benefits besides moisturizing dry skin - they contain essential fatty acids that plump up skin from the inside out, antioxidants that combat free radical damage, and vitamins and nutrients that strengthen and firm the skin. Our moisturizing Lip Balm is made from a balanced blend of nutritive plant oils and butters - it contains extra virgin olive oil that deep-conditions the lips, shea and cupuaçu butters that deliver valuable nutrients, and coconut oil that locks in moisture while still allowing the skin to breathe.
These days, even products meant for moisturizing the lips come in a variety of colors to match any mood and style. But follow these tips to make sure the colorants in your lip products are high-quality and safe:
- Avoid artificial dyes. The most common synthetic dyes are FD&C colors - these are derived from coal tar which is a by-product of - you guessed it! - petroleum. Some of these dyes have been known to cause cancer and are therefore highly regulated by the FDA.
- If you're looking for a balm with a little bit of color, opt for plant-based and mineral colorants instead. Oxides and micas are naturally-occurring mineral pigments that, although manufactured in labs for cosmetic formulation to achieve greater purity and cost-effectiveness, are much better options than FD&C dyes. Even better options are highly pigmented plants such as alkanet root. Our Lip Tint gets its warm rosy hue thanks to wild harvested alkanet (we infuse the reddish purple root into the sunflower and coconut oil base) and a touch of red iron oxide.
SCENT AND FLAVOR INGREDIENTS
If a product is going to be that close to your nose and mouth, it might as well smell, and maybe even taste, good! Although scent and flavor ingredients usually make up quite a small percentage of the final lip product, they're often some of the most important to watch out for. Here's the scoop:
- Be wary of the term "fragrance." FDA regulations cannot force a company to divulge any "trade secrets," and because fragrances are the cosmetic components most likely to be proprietary, they are allowed to be listed simply as "fragrance" on product packaging. A host of harmful chemicals can hide under this non-transparent label.
- Instead of artificial fragrance, look for lip products scented only with natural and organic essential oils. High-quality essential oils are pure and 100% plant-derived, and their scents are beautifully subtle and won't give you that headache that walking through the fragrance section of a department store or hopping into an air-freshened cab just might. Our Lip Balm has an amazing warm spicy aroma thanks to ginger and sweet orange essential oils that are steam distilled from the plants' roots and peels, respectively.
Once you find a high-quality balm, store it in a place where you can easily access it throughout the day - in a bag, pocket, or on your desk at work. Apply it frequently over the course of the day, such as after a meal, before stepping outside, or whenever your lips start to feel dry. We recommend applying our Lip Balm at least 5 times a day in the winter months. We made sure to package it in a chunky 0.3 oz biodegradable tube that can hold enough balm to last over many months of everyday use, and that won't end up in a landfill when you're done with it!
In the summer, it's easy to remember to drink water with the sweltering heat serving as constant reminder. However, it's still important to drink plenty of water in the winter too. Hot, dry air from radiators and heaters suck up all the moisture from our homes and bodies without us realizing it. There's also a lack of moisture and humidity in the cold winter air to begin with, which further dries out our skin. Since your lips are extra sensitive, it's extra important that they are adequately hydrated.
One simple way to help your lips is to drink more water. Get in at least 8 glasses of water a day to prevent chapped lips. If you have a hard time drinking water in the winter, spice it up by trying some warm lemon water instead.
And consider buying a humidifier to counteract the effects of your heating system and to keep moisture levels in the air inside your home from dipping too low.
USE A MOISTURIZING LIP TINT
If you like having a splash of color on your lips while out and about, a moisturizing lip tint may be all you need. Some highly-pigmented lipsticks can be drying and can draw attention to a dry, flaky pout. Instead, try a lip tint that will do double-duty as a lip balm and a sheer, subtly luminous lip color. Just swipe some on right before heading out the door for the perfect winter-flushed look without any hassle.
If you absolutely can't go without your favorite lipstick, try applying a coat of moisturizing lip balm as a base layer, then swipe your lipstick on over the top of it. And always remember to moisturize after removing your lipstick at the end of the day.
It's important to exfoliate your lips weekly, especially in the winter time. This helps to remove any dead or dry skin cells on the surface of the lips, revealing fresh new skin underneath and keeping lips looking soft and supple.
A DIY olive oil and sugar scrub works wonderfully as a natural exfoliator, and the best part is that you can quickly whip it together with ingredients from your kitchen!
- 1 part olive oil
- 2 parts sugar (brown or white sugar is fine)
- In a small bowl, mix the olive oil and sugar together. Once combined, start scrubbing the mixture onto your lips in gentle circular motions. Exfoliate for at least one minute, then rinse (or lick!) off the remnants. Be sure to moisturize afterwards with a high-quality lip balm. Repeat once or twice a week for best results.
Erika Martins is the founder of Oil + Water. Read about her here.
Ariana Palmieri is a green beauty blogger who strives to live as eco-friendly as possible. In July 2015 she started her blog, Greenify-Me, to document her own journey with eco-friendly products, makeup, and the environment. The site features beauty product reviews, natural DIYs, healthy recipes, and more. Her work has also been featured on MindBodyGreen, Motivation Grid, The Penny Hoarder, Antonym Cosmetics, Plant Makeup, Jeannine Morris, Basmati, Beezy Beez, and National Viral.