Winter skin therapy: chapped lips

The reason your lips are so dry and how to treat it

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Dec 02, 2019 · 3 min read

Closeup of woman with red lipstick on her teeth
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Our sweet kissers can be super vulnerable in the winter, when dry air leads to dry lips. Sometimes, frigid temps and harsh winds can lead to cracked lips that might be inflamed. It’s easy enough to find moisturizing lip balms that are supposedly fast cures and claim to get rid of chapped lips. However, they can often contain ingredients that may actually be irritating to already damaged skin. It’s best for chapped lips to seek out lip balms and masks with ingredients that add moisture to the skin and lock it in — without anything extra. Here’s what you should know about home remedies for chapped lips.

What causes chapped lips?

While your skin type might cause your lips to be prone to dryness, chapped lips result because of lip inflammation. The most common causes of chapped lips are environmental factors, such as sun exposure and exposure to dry air — which is one reason why lips seem to get chapped more easily in the winter. Constantly chapped lips (or cheilitis) may be an indication of a vitamin B deficiency, infection, or autoimmune disease. If standard home remedies for chapped lips aren’t improving scaly, itchy, or severely dry lips within 2–3 weeks, you should see your in-person dermatologist.

The best treatments for dry lips

If your lips are chapped, you should apply a lip balm with SPF 30 throughout the day to protect your skin against further damage from dry air and UV rays. To prevent chronic dry, crusty lips, use a moisturizing lip balm or lip mask with occlusive ingredients like castor seed oil, dimethicone, and beeswax. But, confusingly, common lip product ingredients like lanolin, menthol, or eucalyptus — which may be fine for healthy lips — can actually make chapped lips worse. With that in mind, here are options for moisturizing treatments for dry, chapped lips.

Woman with purple lipstick

The best lip balm for chapped lips

Vanicream Lip Protectant/Sunscreen SPF 30

  • Active ingredients include dimethicone, which helps to restore hydration in lips

  • Protects against UV damage with physical sunscreens, which tend to be non-irritating

  • Specially formulated without ingredients known to irritate chapped lips

  • Flavor-free and non-comedogenic

$5.20 via Walgreens

The best treatment for dry lips

Vaseline Lip Therapy Original Tin

  • Petrolatum and shea butter restore moisture to the lips

  • Gender-neutral packaging makes this a good lip balm for men, women, or all/none of the above

  • Fragrance-free, flavor-free and non-comedogenic

$4.39 via Walgreens

The best lip mask for treating dry lips overnight

Primera Clean Berry Lip Mask

  • Glycerin, shea butter, and squalane add moisture to the skin

  • Wax-based formula creates an occlusive environment to restore and protect lips

  • Non-comedogenic, but with synthetic fragrance — I don’t recommend using this on severely inflamed lips

$20.00 via Sephora

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Custom skincare for kissable you

If your skin needs support against acne or signs of aging, give Curology a try. You’ll get access to a dermatology provider who’ll review your photos and medical history, and prescribe you a skin cream custom-tailored for your unique skin needs. For no extra cost, new members can also try the complete Curology set, which comes with a cleanser and your choice of moisturizer: gel for more lightweight hydration, or rich for skin that’s extra dry due to seasonality or other common triggers. You can sign up for a free trial and get your first month of custom skincare for just $4.95 (plus tax) to cover the cost of shipping and handling.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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