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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