Is lip balm making my chapped lips even worse?


Look for products that contain petroleum jelly (commonly listed as petrolatum or white petrolatum on labels), castor oil and glycerin, Rogers says. The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends lip balms that contain ceramides, hemp seed oil, dimethicone, mineral oil and shea butter. Coconut, avocado and extra-virgin olive oils help nourish chapped lips, too, says Dr Danny C Del Campo, a dermatologist in Chicago.

Use a lip product with an SPF 30 or higher if you plan to be outdoors, even in winter, Del Campo says. This will not only protect against the UV damage that can cause dryness, but also the damage that causes sunburns and, potentially, skin cancer.

Awan says people often enjoy the cooling, tingling sensation from ingredients like peppermint oil, camphor and menthol, but they can cause irritation so you should avoid them. The academy also suggests avoiding items with fragrance, flavourings (like mint, citrus and cinnamon), salicylic acid, eucalyptus and lanolin, a fat derived from sheep’s wool.

Rogers says many popular lip products contain these lip-irritating substances. While they may temporarily soothe your lips, they can ultimately cause so much irritation and dryness that it creates the need to reapply the lip balm frequently.

This is why it might seem like your lip balm is worsening your chapped lips or that you’re addicted to it, Awan says.

Other ways to prevent chapped lips


Along with using lip balm, staying hydrated can prevent chapped lips, Del Campo says. Drink plenty of water (your needs can vary depending on your age, exercise habits and the climate you live in) and use a humidifier when you’re sleeping during the winter, Awan says.

Applying a thick layer of lip balm with moisturising ingredients like petrolatum or shea butter before bedtime will also nourish your lips and prevent chapping, Rogers says. If your lips peel, don’t pick at them or use an abrasive lip scrub, which can remove healthy skin and make chapped lips worse, she says.

Though it can be a tough habit to break, Del Campo says, try not to lick your lips.

What to do when nothing is helping

If your lips remain excessively chapped after trying lip balm with nonirritating ingredients for a few weeks, it can be helpful to see a dermatologist, especially if there is crusting in the corners of your mouth or if your lips are painful or itch, Del Campo says.

These could be signs of an allergic reaction or a yeast or bacterial infection on your lips, he says. In these instances, dermatologists can prescribe medications.

“Anytime you have really inflamed red lips, pain, excessive cracking or just excessive dryness that you cannot make a dent in with your over-the-counter products, it’s a good idea to get a consultation,” Awan says.

The New York Times

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