When winter winds chill, or summer sun scorches, lips can begin to dry and chap. The skin on your lips is thin, and with no oil glands to help lubricate them, they need protection.
Both heat and cold can contribute to drying – but don’t wait for extremes of temperature, to give your lips the TLC they crave, says Jeannie Reilly-Ortega, Salon manager at Canyon Ranch in Lenox. When year-round lip care becomes a habit, your lips always look luscious, and chapping is nothing but a painful memory.
Sun, wind and forced hot-air heating all contribute to drying lips, so be sure to drink plenty of water – six to eight glasses a day – in winter as well as summer.
“People tend to forget about their lips until they hurt,” says Jeannie. Habits to avoid for happier lips include licking your lips, biting off dead skin and smoking. Protection is quick and easy, but for maximum results, select the best product for your needs:
Lip balm: Hydrates your lips but does not provide protection against the drying effects of wind and cold. Help heal chapped lips by applying lip balm just before bed. Remember to include the corners of your mouth and the area around your lips. “Be cautious of medicated lip balms,” says Jeannie. “Some ingredients, like eucalyptus, may irritate your lips if they’re already chapped, cracked and overly dry.” Use a product containing SPF to avoid sunburn.
Chap stick: Protects, but doesn’t hydrate. A waxy base forms a protective layer on your lips. If your lips are dry, apply lip balm and top with a layer of chap stick. When you’re skiing or enjoying a winter hike, remember to reapply chap stick every hour.
Lipstick: “Avoid long-wear lipstick; it’s very drying,” says Jeannie. “If you have trouble keeping lipstick on, try outlining your lips and then filling them in with a lip pencil – then apply lipstick on top. The lipstick will cling and stay on longer.” A combination lipstick/lip balm with SPF is a good choice, she says. If you use a lip plumper, select products containing natural ingredients, which are less likely to cause irritation. “If you are well-hydrated, your lips will look plump anyway.”
Simplify lip care by keeping lip products readily accessible. Buy a handful of lip balm and chap sticks and stow them in strategic spots: on the vanity next to your toothbrush, in the glove compartment of your car and the pocket of your favorite coat or jacket.
“Drying is aging to your lips, just like smoking,” says Jeannie. “When your skin is dry, fine lines become more visible – but well-cared-for lips look youthful and feel soft and supple.”