Ask the Edit: Dealing with Chapped Lips

Jan 30, 2024

In winter, everything gets dries up.  My skin.  My hair.  My lips.  My patience.  Luckily, the first three things are fixable. 

Abra:

I recently moved to Utah and my lips are so dry this winter.  I was not prepared.  I’ve tried every chapstick at the drug store and nothing is better.  They might even be worse.  What helps?

Sincerely, Libby

The first step to healing chapped lips is to stop biting, licking or picking at the dead skin on your lips.  What you need is to exfoliate.  The easiest way to remove the dead skin is to use a nubby washcloth and warm water to slough it off.  No fancy products needed.

Second, buy a chapstick with the right ingredients.  The goal is to find a product that will trap the moisture your lips naturally produce, not one you have to reapply to keep the feeling of moisture on your lips.  Products should be fragrance free, hypo-allergenic and contain the following ingredients:

    • Castor seed oil
    • Ceramides
    • Dimethicone
    • Hemp seed oil
    • Mineral oil
    • Petrolatum
    • Shea butter
    • Sun-protective ingredients, such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide
    • White petroleum jelly

I use O’Keefe’s Seal + Heal.  My husband buys their regular chapstick.  If you prefer a product without petrolatum, try Nipple Balm.  If you’ve had a baby recently, there’s probably some hiding in a drawer somewhere.  

Third, if this is not enough to fix your lips, I recommend a lip mask.  You can buy one to apply overnight or, do what I do, I buy a sheet mask to wear during the day.  Yes, you look a bit like a character from a horror film, but the masks work.  

Lastly, you need to hydrate.  Drinking more water will help heal your lips faster.  I had terrible chapped lips at the end of my pregnancy, and my doctor recommended drinking 20oz of water one hour before bed.  This way, I was well hydrated during the night, but I didn’t need to wake up to use the restroom.

Have tips for chapped lips, leave them below.

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  1. N says:

    I picked up this chapped lips tip from SharonSaysSo years ago and it saves me every winter:
    1. apply lotion to damp lips (I use Cerave moisturizing cream after washing my face at night and just dab a little on then)
    2. apply a layer of aquaphor/petroleum jelly

  2. Clara says:

    Lanolin is my winter lips must have.
    Lanolin adds moisture to the skin, versus petroleum jelly (Vaseline, Aquaphor, etc) which keeps moisture in the skin, but lips don’t have oil glands, so they don’t have moisture to keep.

  3. Liz says:

    I use Vaseline + coco butter, and it has really helped. I also started sleeping with a table top humidifier next to my bed this winter, and it has been huge in keeping my lips and face from getting so chapped.

  4. Kim says:

    I got this “lip sandwich” from @sharonsaysso on Instagram and it has resolved my dry lips (and my kids’ dry lips/noses/cheeks) in a way nothing else did:
    – exfoliate (nubby washcloth and warm water, like Abra suggested)
    – pat water on your lips, let dry briefly, then slather a moisturizer on whole they’re still damp; I use cetaphil moisturizing cream or my cerave night cream, but any moisturizer should work
    – let the moisturizer soak in briefly, then put Vaseline on top.

    The “dampen lips” step is key!

  5. Natalie says:

    I’m from Utah and my lip balm (and moisturizer) use has decreased dramatically since relocating to California. haha That being said, Bert’s Bees is my go-to for daytime. They come in fun flavors, too. Adult Lip Smackers! At night I like their lip mask- I think it’s a good dupe for the popular Laneige one at a much more reasonable price.

  6. Kim O. says:

    I’ve tried everything this winter as well, and I agree, most chapsticks make it worse. I just found L’Occitane’s Stick Levres Ultra Rich Lip Balm (with 10% shea butter, like Abra suggested) and am loving the results so far. Highly recommend.

  7. Maggie says:

    I figured out that my chapped lips were from sodium lauryl sulfate in my toothpaste. I started using SLS free toothpaste and my lips barely ever get chapped anymore.

  8. strin012 says:

    I am allergic to dyes and fragrances in products, which unfortunately includes most plant extracts (yeah, that was a surprise to me, too!). As a result, anything with a smell is an automatic no for me. Otherwise, I get breakouts *on* my lips (so painful!).

    My go-tos are OG Carmex *in the stick* (not the squeeze tube or pot) for nighttime and Vaseline’s body balm stick. It’s really just Vaseline in stick form, but it’s huge and I love it. https://www.target.com/p/vaseline-all-over-body-balm-stick-unscented-1-4oz/-/A-76525687#lnk=sametab

    Carmex here: https://www.amazon.com/Carmex-Classic-Stick-6-Count/dp/B0848GM3JP/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=Carmex&qid=1706736061&sr=8-6

  9. Michelle says:

    Jack Black Intense Therapy Vitamin E and Shea is amazing and has SPF. Not sticky. Great for overnight.

  10. Amy says:

    I just started using this one from La-Roche Posay and I swear my lips had visibly improved within 24 hours.
    https://www.ulta.com/p/cicaplast-b5-lip-balm-dry-lips-pimprod2040232

    I tried more Vaseline-type products and didn’t like them, including the Kiehl’s lip balm in the squeeze tube. Burt’s Bees has never worked for me. I like the unscented Dr. Bronner’s but it’s not quite enough for winter.

  11. Erin says:

    Absurdly cheap and effective, you can buy a tub of raw shea butter for <$15 (Target sells it near me) and fill some silicone lip balm containers from Amazon. I bought my tub 4 years ago and it seems like I may have it for the rest of my life. I just compared it to some fancy Glossier product yesterday and it's way more effective.

    When I travel, I pack a tube style lip balm, but most of the time I use the shea butter at home so I'm not worried about using my fingers to apply.

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