With the winter weather upon us I thought it was a good idea to re-visit the yearly issue of chapped lips.
Chapped lips are certainly the sign that winter is here for awhile. The bitter cold and wind of outdoor weather and dry indoor heating really plays havoc on your skin, especially your lips having very few oil glands. The cracking, flaking, burning, and chapping are uncomfortable, unpretty and unwelcome. Preventing and treating parched and puckered chapped lips requires faithful dedication. Skip a day and your lips are right back where they started.
These soothing and softening sticks promise an end to tender lips stung by harsh, cold winter weather and arid climates by helping to seal in the lip’s moisture with emollients that are lubricating, repairing and protective. Keeping lips moist, hydrated, soft and protected is essential.
Slap happy for lip chappy. I’ve always advocated using a lip balm daily to both women and men. For women it paves the way for lipstick. For men it paves the way for kisses. Right after brushing your teeth use a warm, damp terry facecloth to slough off visible flaking skin. Lightly pat dry and immediately apply a good quality lip balm. This ritual keeps your lips smooth, soft and protected for the day. It only makes sense to carry and re-apply lip balm after meals and smooching. I have one stashed in every coat pocket and bag.
Choosing A Lip Balm:
Choosing lip care products is challenging, as the market is flooded with tubes and pots of balms, salves, and ointments. Most are merely waxes in fancy packaging that don’t work.
- Avoid balms labeled as medicated which contain camphor, menthol, peppermint oil, or eucalyptus. These trick you into believing that they are “working” by creating a new but different irritation. As pleasant as these medicinal salves smell they are actually skin irritants that burn and hurt, not heal and help chapped lips.
- Look for a balm that is a super emollient with water binding agents like cocoa butter, lanolin, or Shea butter. Balms with mineral oil, natural plant oil (apricot, cocoa nut, corn, jojoba, macadamia, sun flower, or sweet almond oil), emu or squalene oil provides a protective coating from the elements while locking in moisture and treatment.
- Avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxides are also beneficial for sun protection of SPF 30 and much higher, SPF 60+ for skiers and outdoor workers.
- Buy self-dispensing tubes or roll-up sticks not jars and pots, which are less hygienic.
- Never share your balm unless it’s with the one you kiss.
- Buy in bulk – stash one into every coat pocket and bag you use. Reapply after meals and smooching.
- Persistently chapped and irritated lips are best treated by a qualified dermatologist/specialist.
Potato Chip Lips – occur when the lips have severe cracking, flaking skin and in some cases sores and bleeding which are usually caused from picking. This is where a lip exfoliating procedure comes into play. The best time to exfoliate lips (to remove dead skin cells) is after showering and brushing your teeth:
- Apply a coating of Vaseline to your lips and wait about five minutes for it to lubricate and loosen the flakes.
- Apply a warm wet terry facecloth as a compress to lips. Let it sit until it cools down. Use the cloth to rub off the now moistened flakes. Some people use their toothbrush in a gentle rotating buffing motion to remove the dead skin. I find it too abrasive and hard to do.
- Massage a drop of olive oil on your lips and allow it to soak in for 5 minutes. Blot excess away and apply lip balm to lock in moisture, sooth, soften and protect.
There are manual lip exfoliants available that are a bit grittier than the kinds you would use on your face. They are applied, left on for 10 minutes and removed with gently buffing to loosen and lift away flakes. There are also “pumice stick” versions of this approach for convenience.
*Make your own scrub by mixing baking soda, salt or sugar into a paste with warm water. Massage on and leave on for 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly, pat dry and slather a thick coating of an emollient lip balm or Vaseline to moisturize and seal.
Don’t leave the house with a kisser full of Vaseline unless that’s how you really want to appear to the world. I am not a fan of shiny lips on men unless they’re in a dress. Blot off excess shine with a tissue to avoid this confusion.
Lip Make-Up Tips
- For easy elegance, use a tinted lip balm or lip-gloss or a sheer, emollient lip crayon to gently colour and keep the lips conditioned and protected.
- Stay away from matte, dry textured and long-lasting lipstick formulations until your lips are in their best shape.
- For more lip definition use the new waterproof lip liners out on the market. They are creamy and easy to use to line and colour the lips. It sets easily and stays-put without drying.
- Wear alone or layer with lip-gloss or a creamy moisturizer.
Be sure to carry your lip essentials with you to refresh and repair your lips anywhere. Remember, oily food is your enemy when wearing any kind of lip product. Remove lip make-up completely before casual meals like barbecues. At fancier affairs, be aware of how you eat as to minimize damage to your lips, especially the outer perimeter. If it’s gone beyond the outer perimeter, it’s best to remove lips completely and reapply in the ladies room. Touch-ups are considered acceptable at the table as long as they are just that, a touch up. A major lip overhaul requires more privacy please.
Recommendations available at Shoppers Drug Mart.
- Chapstick The Lip Moisturizer with SPF15
- Banana Boat Sport Performance
- Vaseline with Shea Butter
- Balea Lip Balm
- EOS (Evolution of Smooth)