No matter the season, chapped lips can strike at any time. Oftentimes, despite your best efforts, it can feel impossible to put a stop to the dry, cracked, flaky, and often painful sensations. There’s good news, though: Experts say this is actually preventable.
Meet the Experts
- Dr. Marisa Garshick is a New York City–based and board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at Cornell University.
- Dr. Chris Tomassian is a Los Angeles–based and board-certified dermatologist and founder of The Dermatology Collective.
To start, it’s important to remember the things that cause chapped lips in the first place. “Some causes of chapped lips include dry weather, exposure of the lips to an irritant or allergen, sun exposure, a yeast infection, or frequent lip licking,” says Garshick, who notes these alongside the tell-tale hallmarks of winter like colder temperatures and harsh winds. The lips are a particularly sensitive area, she continues, so limiting irritating factors such as saliva, food, toothpaste, and ingredients in lipsticks or certain lip balms is key. (On how to get rid of chapped lips entirely, both of our experts maintain that constantly licking your lips is a common culprit.) “Chapped lips are preventable if you stay ahead of it!” advises Tomassian. Ahead, the seven steps to remedy dehydrated lips for good.
Buff Away Dead Skin With a Lip Scrub
In skin care, you slough away dead skin and impurities through exfoliating treatments, so why not give your pout the same TLC? Think of lip scrubs as the ultimate solution year-round. Garshick’s pick is Andalou’s conditioning formula. “This scrub helps to gently exfoliate the lips, using pomegranate seeds to get rid of any dead skin cell buildup that may be contributing to the chapped appearance. It also contains rosehip oil to nourish the lips,” she says. Then, there’s Fresh’s coveted polish enriched with brown sugar crystals, shea butter, and jojoba oil to leave your lips flake-free.
Apply a Hyaluronic Acid Serum to Moist Lips
Step two is to apply a hyaluronic acid serum to your lips, according to Tomassian. Remember: This well-known ingredient works to retain moisture to keep skin plump, dewy, and hydrated year-round. Not to worry, though—you can use your most beloved serum on your lips too. Of the best hyaluronic serums, the SkinCeuticals formula is a Vogue-editor favorite due to its potent concentration of the acid, along with wrinkle-fighters like licorice root and purple rice. Or, iS Clinical’s serum is best for you—thanks to its lightweight texture, calming, and anti-inflammatory properties. Otherwise, Vichy’s French pharmacy formula is a reliable pick along with La Roche-Posay’s reparative serum.
Consistently Apply a Moisturizing Ointment
“Applying and reapplying a moisturizing ointment multiple times throughout the day to the lips and before bed can be helpful to prevent dry, chapped lips,” says Garshick, pointing specifically to formulas that include shea butter and ceramides. Luckily, our vast skin-care marketplace offers many fabulous products to choose from.
First is La Mer’s emollient balm, which promises to restore and condition dry lips through the brand’s rejuvenating Miracle Broth, botanical oils, and a hint of mint. Next, we’d consider Chanel’s treatment from its Le Lift lineup. This balmy product is powered by botanical alfalfa concentrate, which works like retinol to firm and smooth, as well as a lip-plumping complex composed of amino acids, hyaluronic acid, and fatty acids. Sisley’s Nutritive Lip Balm is another cult favorite, loved for its non-sticky feel and long-lasting hydration. Otherwise, Tata Harper’s treatment utilizes vitamin-rich botanical oils and plant extracts to leave you with pillow-soft lips.
Protect Your Lips With SPF
Garshick emphasizes protecting your lips from UV exposure: “It is important to remember to apply SPF to your lips, even in the winter months prior to going outdoors, and remember to reapply.” Let this be your reminder that even if you’re not spending as much time outside, safeguarding against UV damage is crucial year-round to combat everything from incidental sun exposure to lower doses of ambient and infrared light emitted by electronics. That said, lip treatment infused with SPF is incredibly helpful. Fans of EltaMD’s acclaimed facial sunscreen should add its lip balm to cart. As it delivers a satin, non-glossy finish—it’s a great pick for daily wear, men, and kids. Partial to a sheer lip tint? MDSolarSciences balm is for you to provide a sheer wash of color whilst the featured SPF, shea butter, avocado oil, and olive butter condition and heal your pout.
Cover Your Lips With Petroleum-Based Products
Per Tomassian, “moisturize daily with an emollient product as this will actually limit water loss from your lips and stay hydrated.” If you’re into the classics, Vaseline or Aquaphor are foolproof options. On the former, Tomassian says it limits water loss from your skin by 99%.“It also acts as an occlusive barrier which limits irritants like your own saliva from further irritating your skin.” Or as it relates to Aquaphor, he would recommend it because of the included “petrolatum (petroleum jelly), but also lanolin which is hydrating to the skin and comes in a nice packaging for on-the-go application.” Speaking of lanolin, Lanolips ointment or Glossier’s Balm Dotcom are sensitive skin-friendly multipurpose balms to combat dry patches anywhere on the body.
Consider Specialty Overnight Treatments
For a more specialized treatment, an overnight lip formula could be good to promote a kissable pout while you sleep. Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask is arguably the most notorious of the bunch, loved by celebrities like Kate Moss, Kate Hudson, and Brooke Shields for its moisturizing properties. Looking to test a new variant? Tomassian recommends Kiehl’s masks as a less-greasy alternative to Vaseline or Aquaphor, pointing out that “the high concentration of squalane intensely moisturizes and hydrates the lips.” In addition, Tatcha’s squalane and Japanese peach lip mask promotes soft fullness, while Ilia’s formula boasts papaya enzymes, sea succulent, and hyaluronic acid to simultaneously exfoliate and hydrate overnight.
Use a Humidifier at Night
“Especially in the cold winter months, it can be helpful to keep a humidifier in the bedroom to minimize lip dryness overnight,” says Garshick. As a reminder, a humidifier is a useful device to increase moisture levels in the air—effectively preventing dryness. Canopy’s model is one of the most coveted models—known to filter and hydrate air sans mist, and even inhibit mold growth. Similarly, Vitruvi promises to support your skin’s moisture barrier, soothe dry skin, and make your air healthier through its sleek device.