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Chapped lips: the dos and don’ts

By the 17 February 2020

Modifié le 17 March 2020

Holding back a Winter smile because of your sore, chapped lips? In order to speak, laugh, yawn, kiss or eat with your mouth, you need your lips to be on top form. And by adopting good habits, this will be possible all through the year. Even in the bleak mid-Winter!

Warning! Your lips are fragile

 

Chapping is formed by little fissures which form on the skin due to intense dehydration. The skin dries out, is irritated, and becomes weaker until they become cracked and chapped with little micro cuts. It’s nothing serious, don’t worry, although admittedly it’s not that pretty. But it’s often really painful and takes a while to go away. And on your lips, chapping occurs easily. But why?

 

When we say chapped lips, you think of Winter, of the cold, right? Of course. But, being so exposed, there are lots of other times where your lips can suffer. If they’re really fragile, it’s because their skin has a very specific structure. Composed of a semi-mucous membrane, it’s one of the only parts of our body where the skin isn’t protected by a hydrolipidic film. Its cornea layer is almost nonexistent, it lacks keratinocytes, sebaceous glands and melanocytes. In other words: to protect their delicate skin, our lips can’t count on water-resistant keratin or anti-drying sebum or anti-UV melanin. Basically, they don’t have a lot of defence mechanisms. 

 

As a result, just a wee bit of cold or sun, the dry air from heating, wind, sea, pool or tap water are all capable of harming your lips. Do you often get chapped lips when you have a cold? This is normal – breathing with your mouth open because of your blocked nose is enough to really dry them out. We know the feeling: it starts by a light tingling, the skin gets red all around. Then it gets irritated, peeling off in little sore patches. And when you get to this stage, healing your lips is not easy. It’s really hard not to use our lips, even when they’re painful. They’re always in action. So it makes sense now. When it comes to this tricky-to-repair zone, preventative measures are essential. 

 

Golden rules for velvety lips

 

No, your makeup does not protect your lips

 

Fan of lipstick or lip gloss, thinking that your lips are sufficiently protected? Think again! These are not skincare products! By contrast, full of irritants and allergens (parabens, phenoxyethanol, lanolin…), these products will dry your lips out. And the worst offenders? Matte colours, dark colours and long-lasting products. Your lips need a real skincare product to nourish and hydrate them. 

 

Look after your lips all year round 

 

Winter is, undeniably, the worst time for chapped lips, but this can happen at any time of the year. And don’t wait for your lips to be chapped in order to do something about it. It’s by taking care of them year-round that you will help them to get through the more challenging months. As with the face, integrate the hydration of your lips and the skin around them into your daily routine: at least once a day all year round. And as much as you need: if your lips are sore, apply before going outside in winter, or before and after sun exposure…

 

There’s no such thing as pampering your lips too much

 

You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t abuse your lip balm, or you’ll risk making them even weaker? There’s some truth in that. It is important to nourish your lips generously, but not with just any old product. Conventional stick lip balms do them more bad than good. Full of mineral oils, vaseline, paraffin, petroleum, and microcrystalline wax, they make our lips dependent on these ingredients. The waterproof film they leave on application gives them a pleasant and comfortable feeling, sure, but this feeling is short-lived.  And even really harmful: given this new feeling, the skin totally abandons its own defence mechanisms. As soon as you stop applying your lip balm, your lips will be even more helpless than ever. The result: you’ll end up applying your lip balm every single hour, using up a whole stick every week without seeing any improvement in your lips. Seems about right, doesn’t it?

 

Look for good ingredients rather than the phrase for lips

 

So is stick lip balm just one big marketing campaign? Is a product specifically for your lips useless? Yes! It’s better to use a (good and natural) facial moisturiser than a petrochemical product specifically for your lips. Not only in terms of effectiveness: in applying it to your mouth area, you’re definitely going to be ingesting some questionable substances. Petrol derivatives, fatty alcohols, polymers, silicones and other components that are suspicious at best…

 

The best thing you can use? A balm – a non-water-based product – that is restorative, hydrating and nourishing, rich in high quality plant-based fatty acids, unscented and 100% natural. One that can be used on all areas of dryness, face or body. This wonderful moisturiser will be able to provide for all of your lips’ needs, which are remarkably numerous for such a small area! What does it need to do? Nourish, protect and strengthen, soothe and soften, and repair and restructure when your lips are chapped. What a job!

 

Active ingredients good enough to kiss 

 

To rise to the challenge, there’s nothing better than plant oils and butters. Capable to really sink into your skin, they’ll give your lips all of the necessary defence mechanisms that they lack, and inject them with softness with a nice plumping effect. Thanks to their high phytosterol content, shea butter – exceptionally rich in unsaponifiable matter and vitamins – and cacao butter have unrivalled healing properties, are soothing and regenerating. 

 

A pea-shaped amount of one or the other is very beneficial when used in combination with some well-chosen plant oils… Coconut oil, for example, super nourishing and antibacterial, which is preventative and reparative, hydrates and leaves you with the subtle scent of summer holidays in the sun. Argan oil, rich in vitamin E, is healing and antioxidising. Calendula extract, powerfully regenerating and anti-inflammatory for damaged skin, will repair and soothe. Add some oils with anti-UV powers, like raspberry, avocado or sesame and all of your lips’ needs will be covered. 

 

Our Loving Balm, rich in 55 organic plant oils and butters ticks all the boxes. And the cherry on top is that it leaves your lips feeling glossy but not greasy. With no other ingredient, perfume or essential oil, Loving Balm is ideal for even the youngest children: babies, who salivate a lot, can suffer from irritation around the mouth. Put a little balm on your (clean!) finger, let it melt a little and apply it gently. With our 10ml tub, you can take Loving Balm anywhere with you. And when your lips’ needs are less intense, you can swap it for something lighter by making your own balm with our composition of nourishing and soothing plant oils. 

 

Help! Very chapped lips

 

Despite your best intentions, you haven’t been able to resist biting your lips and you haven’t been religiously applying your lip balms. A little walk in the northern wind and there you have it – in just a few minutes your lips are wrecked. It’s time to get going on the emergency repair plan!

 

Don’t touch your lips

 

Come on, you can be strong and resist the horrible temptation to pull off the little bits of loose skin on your lips. No, don’t rub them either, neither with your finger or any other exfoliant substance, even if you feel like you’re doing it gently. All that you’re going to do is hurt yourself and make your lips even more irritated and exposed. And keep your tongue to yourself too. Our saliva, rich in enzymes, attacks the skin and dried it out even more when it evaporates. It’s one of the main causes of chapped lips and can even create exzema around the lips. Yuck. In short, just leave your lips alone!

 

 

Mask your lips

 

No, not to hide them: to help them repair themselves. Apply a thick layer of either Loving Balm, which is rich in soothing, anti-inflammatory active ingredients, or honey, powerfully antiseptic and softening. Leave it to get to work for ten minutes and then dab off the rest with a soft reusable pad. Finally, hydrate your lips, several times a day, until the conditions improve. But be careful, if your chaps persist or get infected, it’s good to speak to a professional. This could be a sign of something else: side effects of medicines, fungal infections, allergic reactions…

 

Make good resolutions

 

To look after your lips, avoid smoking which encourages cuts to appear and dries your lips. Make sure you drink enough, water and herbal teas to hydrate your skin and try to eat foods rich in vitamins A, B, C and E. Try to humidify inside air that’s been dried out by heating in Winter but try not to rinse your mouth too much with the hot water from your tap. Finally, don’t forget to protect them when they’re exposed to the sun. And re-read this post if you ever need to get back into your good habits.

This post is also available in french.

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