How To Beat Chapped Lips (And A DIY Remedy)

remedy for chapped lipsDry, chapped lips are uncomfortable and sometimes painful, and once the weather starts to change, everyone suffers. No one likes the look of flaky, dry skin all over your mouth. So I have a few tips to help you keep your lips soft and smooth if you get stuck under the mistletoe.

I have struggled with chronic dry lips for years, and even year round. Once the cooler temps hit, my lips would dry up and it seemed like there would be nothing that would solve my problem. Even while I was working at Sephora and had access to every lip balm in the world, I still couldn’t find anything that would solve my chronic chapped lips (called cheilitis, for those skin care nerds out there). My lips would be raw from my lower lip to my nose. So what’s a girl to do?

Here’s what I finally figured out.

Stop using products with sodium lauryl sulfate. Or, even better, all sulfates. Many products are touting their sulfate-free status these days, giving the impression that sulfates are evil ingredients. They are not, but they are heavy surfactants (cleansing agents) that can irritate delicate skin. If your skin is already irritated, it can make that irritation worse. Think of it like salt – not bad on popcorn or potato chips, even necessary, but boy does it sting if you get it in an open wound. Some people may have a higher sensitivity to sulfates and the sulfates themselves may cause the irritation. This was my problem. I stopped using a toothpaste with sulfates and my severely chapped lips disappeared within a week. Check your toothpaste and face wash for sulfates and switch it up if necessary. I switched to Sensodyne, which is easy to find at any drugstore. You’re looking for ingredients that have the word “sulfate” in them: sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate.

Consider allergic reactions. The lips are thinner and more delicate than the skin on the rest of the body, so I’ve encountered plenty of people who have lip-specific allergies. Try to use one lip balm for a few weeks and see if the condition subsides. If it doesn’t, try a different one, with a different set of ingredients. Once you’ve used a few, you should be able to figure out from the ingredients if you have an allergy. Look at the ingredients list on all the lip balms and try to find the common ingredients.

Severe chapped lips (think lips that crack and bleed, chapping, and irritation beyond your lip line) may actually be caused by a medical condition. Anyone who’s ever taken Accutane knows that it can cause some serious chapping. What I didn’t know? People who are prone to fever blisters and canker sores can also suffer from chronic chapped lips. If that’s you, get to a doctor. You’ll probably want a diagnosis and a prescription in order to get relief. Check out this article from Dr. Audrey Kunin who breaks down hidden causes of chapped lips on Dr. Oz’s website.

Try my DIY lip scrub. It’s so easy, and I even made a video for you. Remember, you can’t scrub away an irritation, so if your lips are swollen, inflamed, hurting, tender to the touch, don’t scrub. Use a product like Aquaphor for the time being, and if the irritation doesn’t subside within a week, you may want to see a doc.

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Are You Missing Out?

anti agin skin careSomeone asked me a great question today. She was concerned that treating her rosacea was getting in the way of treating her fine lines and wrinkles. When I tell people to target their concerns, I mean that you need to address what you’d like to change about your skin, but what I really mean is that you need to treat what is actually happening with your skin.

First, let’s take a broad view of how the skin ages. It’s more complicated than skin care companies make it seem. We’ll keep it simple for this purpose. Skin cells divide in the base layer and rise to the surface, flattening and essentially dying as they go. We exfoliate the top layers off, which sends a message to the bottom layers to divide more often. As we age, the DNA of these cells starts to become damaged, and the skin cells replicate the damaged DNA. The key to anti-aging comes in when we look at the reasons why the DNA becomes damaged in the first the place. And the answer to this question is inflammation.

Inflammation is one of those words that we hear all the time. Famous doctors like Dr. Perricone, Dr. Weil, and Dr. Oz talk about it all the time. But it’s a word that gets thrown around so much that most of us don’t think about it much more. Something claims to be anti-inflammatory, and it sounds great. If inflammation is bad, obviously anti-inflammatories are good. But if we think about it for a second, just in relation to the skin, inflammation prevents the cells from replicating the way they are supposed to. Take this one step further, and we see that long-term, inflammation can lead to lots of damaged DNA replicating itself over and over. Chronic, systemic inflammation is the root of almost all aging.

My theory is always that taking care of your skin the way it needs to be taken care of is always the best anti-aging. Skin issues such as rosacea, eczema, and acne are all the result of inflammation. So if inflammation causes aging, reducing inflammation is itself anti-aging. Maintaining skin health is the best way to prevent wrinkles because you allow the skin to heal and protect itself.

 

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What I’m Loving Now: Jane Iredale Sugar and Butter Lip Duo

natural lip exfoliant and lip plumper all in oneChapped winter lips have gotten me down, so I was happy to rediscover one of my favorite lip products, the Jane Iredale Sugar and Butter lip duo. I found it in the bottom of a drawer, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t used it since last year. This lip duo features a lip exfoliator on one side, which has organic brown sugar partnered with beneficial botanical oils to exfoliate dead skin and moisturize at the same time. I love sugar exfoliants because they don’t leave nasty tasting synthetic ingredients all over, and sugar dissolves easily for a quick, on the go dead skin removal. The flip side is a hydrating lip butter, with a little extra shimmer and plumper as a bonus. I love the way my lips look when I use this… it’s my barely there lip look. The plumper helps to boost the look of your natural lip color, as well as giving a little fullness that often lacks in the cold winter months. This is best for ladies who don’t crave a dramatic lip look but want to add a little finish with a natural sheen and glow. I am obsessed with lip products, and I hate most of the exfoliants I’ve tried. This little gem has been a welcome change.

What are you relying on to save your lips this winter?

 

 

 Think this product would work for you? I earn a commission and you help to support this blog if you use the affiliate links provided. But your trust is important to me, and I’d never recommend something that I haven’t used or didn’t like. Read my disclaimer.

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Deep Down Cleaning At Home

Sometimes a change of season makes us crave a little detoxification. Since it is common to experience an increase in breakouts as the weather cools off, you might want to amp up your exfoliation at home and dig a little deeper in your pores at home. Remember that nothing replaces manual extractions in a facial, but here are some tricks to get a little home detox going.

DermaDoctor Wrinkle Revenge 1 CleanserTry a glycolic acid or salicylic acid wash at home a few times a week. Salicylic is best for blackheads, but it may be too much for drier skin types. Since we’re trying to soften the skin and get a little extra exfoliation, glycolic washes are great, quick things to do at home. My favorites include the DermaDoctor Wrinkle Revenge Cleanser, which is a great creamy, non-drying glycolic cleanser in various strengths (start with Wrinkle Revenge 1 if you’ve never used a glycolic wash). Another great option is the Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel. It includes a little salicylic acid, so it is better from more combination skin types.

 

I like to amp up my at-home cleanse with the Clarisonic Cleansing Brush a couple of times a week. Ultrasound cleansing or sonic cleansing uses sound waves to break up the debris on the surface of the skin more quickly and more effectively than regular cleansers. Plus the oscillations of the brush stimulate the micro-circulation in the uppermost layers of the skin which also boosts your natural glow.

 

Get some extra exfoliation with an at home peel. Whereas I strongly believe that at-home Juice Beauty Green Apple Peelpeels can’t replace the professional strength ones that I offer in my clinical practice, it is a great way to get more effective exfoliation at home. Do an at-home peel once a week and follow with a clay mask to mimic some of the results of a professional deep cleansing that I do in my treatments. Some fun ones to try? I’ve always loved the Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel. It’s an extremely effective peel as well as being organic. I also love the Sircuit Cosmeceuticals Youth Accelerator Pumpkin Peel. I work with this line currently, and it is my go-to enzyme peel for people with congested skin.

Rodan + Fields Anti-Age Daily Cleansing MaskFollow your peel with a detoxifying clay mask a couple of times a week. I have been using the Rodan and Fields Anti-Age Daily Cleansing Mask a few times a week to help draw impurities out of the skin in this especially sweaty, oily time of year. It is a clay-based cleanser that can double as a mask, making it a quick detox for super busy people. Another mask to try is the Boscia Luminizing Black Mask, a fun peel-off mask that detoxifies while it brightens, though it definitely requires more time to work effectively.

 

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that your skin doesn’t need to be deeply cleansed often. Some natural oils on your skin are not bad; in fact, it is even healthy! So don’t mistake a stripped down, tight feeling for a deep cleanse. But incorporating some of these ideas and products into your regular routine a few times a week can help control breakouts, keep cell turnover rate high, and boost your daily glow.

 

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Winning the Fight Against Blackheads

Once people start to understand how blackheads are formed, and what must be done to get rid of them, the next question I hear is which product is the best. These are a few things that I look for when I am evaluating the effectiveness of a product.

  • Serums are more effective than cleansers. In general, I prefer serums because they stay on the skin longer, while cleansers ultimately wash off. In the case of blackheads, you need something that can really penetrate the pore, and serums can do that. Also, serums are easier to zone treat (just treating the area where the problem occurs), and you can stop using it if you experience too much drying.
  • Ingredients are key. Salicylic acid is the best ingredient to fight blackheads, but the addition of glycolic acid can really bump up the effectiveness. These two are most important, and after that, the product just gets better if it has other acids like lactic or azelaic (which can often help with pigmentation).
  • The product should have a light, spreadable texture and be free of clogging ingredients like mineral oil or petrolatum.

And here are some of my favorites products that fit this description.

 

blackhead fighterActive Serum by iS Clinical features sugar cane extract (glycolic), bilberry extract (lactic), and willow bark extract (salicylic). It also features arbutin and kojic acid, which can help to brighten the skin. It works on blackheads and the appearance of pores. Because of the salicylic, it also helps with acne. Use this product all over for help with texture and brightening as well.

blackheads

 

Ain’t Misbehavin Intensive Medicated Blackhead Treatment by DERMAdoctor is a treatment designed specifically for blackheads. It uses salicylic acid, glycolic acid, azelaic acid, and a myriad of other great ingredients to work on stubborn clogs. Use it as a zone treatment to minimize blackheads and breakouts.

 

blackheadsBlemish Clearing Serum by Juice Beauty is technically an acne treatment, but its use of salicylic and glycolic also makes it a great blackhead fighter. I love the price of this one. It really spreads, making it a great value. Plus, Juice Beauty utilizes as many certified organic ingredients as possible, which makes it a great choice for someone looking for something natural and paraben-free. Use it as a zone treatment or all over, depending on your concerns.

 

All of these products are great options to help to minimize the appearance of pores and diminish the occurrence of blackheads. There are always others out there to try, but be sure to check the ingredients list to make sure you’re buying something that is effective. And remember that good skin care starts at home, so make sure to invest wisely products that address your concerns the best.

 

 

See a product here that you think would work for you? I earn a commission and you help to support this blog if you use the affiliate links provided. But your trust is important to me, and I’d never recommend something that I haven’t used or didn’t like. Read my disclaimer.

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The Epic Battle of the Blackhead

People who come in for facials generally have a myriad of concerns about their skin, but one of the concerns I hear the most regularly is blackheads.  People want to know why they get themWoman insepcting her blackheads and pores in the mirror. and what they can do about them. Blackheads are made of sebum and dead skin cells. The oil and skin cells lodge inside the pore and harden, clogging the pore. As the clog sits in the skin, it oxidizes, which causes the darkened color that appears black in the skin. It’s a totally natural process, and just about everyone gets blackheads somewhere at some point. They generally occur most frequently in the T-zone, although they can show up anywhere. People often assume that because they have blackheads that they must have oily skin. But this is a common misconception that often leads to treating blackheads in a way that can actually make them worse. Often, dry skin gets an especially stubborn kind of blackhead that is even more difficult to remove. If you think back to how the blackhead is formed, it starts to make sense. In oily skin, the oil is thinner and more liquid, and even when it clogs, the clog can still be pliable, and the skin surrounding the blackhead is often more forgiving.  A clog that is in dry skin, where the oil starts out being very thick and solid, is not as easy to manipulate, and the surrounding skin is more solid and less forgiving. Determined to live a life without blackheads? There are several ways to address them.

  • A professional facial is the best place to start. Manual extractions are the only way to truly remove clogs. [Tweet this!] Everything else controls them (meaning you’ll get fewer blackheads or the ones you have may be less noticeable).
  • Use a serum with salicylic acid. This is a great method of control and maintenance. It also makes my job easier when you come for a facial, because the clogs are primed and ready to go.
  • Keep your skin hydrated and supple. Proper moisture levels keep the clogs and the surrounding skin soft, meaning that when I start to work, I can get a better, more thorough, less uncomfortable extraction.

Skin clear of blackheads is something that must be constantly maintained. You cannot have blackheads extracted one time and expect to never get them again. Forming blackheads is one of the skin’s natural processes, and some people are more prone to this process than others. Regular facials with manual extractions are necessary to maintain a skin free of clogs, though what is “regular” may vary from person to person.

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