How To Tell If Your Lip Balm Is Actually Making Your Chapped Lips Worse

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Most of us up the lip balm applications in the cold, dry winter months, especially when the winds howl and even the quick jaunt from the house to the car leaves lips red and chapped. It can be quite the relief, soothing dry lips with your favorite balm or salve. Most of our exposed skin needs extra moisture in the winter and unless you're wearing a full ski mask every time you walk out the door, chances are your lips are most likely to take the hardest hit.


"Lip skin is especially prone to dryness and chapping during the winter compared to other body parts because lip skin has low capacity of retaining water and is a weak skin barrier," board-certified dermatologist Elaine Kung, M.D., tells Byrdie. So, lips are extra vulnerable to dryness due to their delicate nature. And it may sound counterintuitive, but your lip balm — the supposed helper — might actually be drying your lips out even more.

Many lip balms are dehydrating

As we all know, the lips don't have hair follicles or oil glands. They actually get their natural moisture from the oil glands around the mouth. So, licking our lips or using balms with less-than-ideal ingredients can actually worsen the problem (via Live Science). If your lips sting when you apply your lip balm, that's another sure sign that your lip balm is actually making your chapped lips worse.


"Certain lip balms only contain humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin—which draw water from the air," Marnie Nussbaum, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, tells RealSimple. "However, if there is no occlusive—like petrolatum, beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil, or squalene—the moisture will not be sealed in to protect the moisture barrier. As soon as the moisture evaporates, the lips will feel drier and appear dehydrated."

Mystery solved. So, if your lips are still chapped after you apply lip balm, the balm is a likely cause. Lip balms that contain a humectant and an occlusive should protect and soothe lips without contributing to dryness and irritation. In fact, the Cherry Lip Balm from 100% Pure meets the criteria perfectly.


Other ways to restore lips' moisture

In addition to using a lip balm that contains both a humectant and an occlusive, there are a few other easy ways to protect your lips naturally and lessen the chances of extreme dryness. If you just can't seem to get out of the dry lip cycle, your lips likely need to be exfoliated. There's probably a layer of dead skin blocking the healing ingredients you apply to your lips in lip balms (the right kind of lip balm, that is). Lip exfoliating scrubs will do the job beautifully. These typically have a coarse exfoliator like sugar in a hydrating carrier like coconut oil. You could even mix one up yourself at home. Use this lip scrub regularly to slough away dry skin, per Medical News Today.


Staying hydrated internally is another way to keep your skin (and lips) healthy and smooth. So, be sure to drink plenty of water. A lesser-known culprit for dry lips is smoking. Lips tend to dry out due to smoking and many smokers notice a return of moisture to the lips once a smoking habit is kicked to the curb. Lastly, using a humidifier in your home will greatly help your skin's overall moisture levels and, of course, your chapped lips, too (via Chapstick).