Chapped lips causes will surprise you - and finding the right remedy depends on knowing WHY your lips are chapped. It's not always just harsh weather. Yes, Winter weather is hard on all of your skin, including your lips. There is more to the story of chapped lips though.
What You Need to Know About Chapped Lips
Dry Lip Causes and Treatment
Will lip balm fix chapped lips?
If you already have chapped lips due to the weather they will improve when you moisturize them with a simple, but high-quality lip balm. Unless you’re a big-time lip licker, or constantly out in harsh weather (think fishermen and skiers), your lips should respond to lip balm. If your lips don't heal with consistent use of a good lip balm, you could be allergic to a food or to your lip care products; find the allergen and heal your lips!
Chapped lips caused by an allergy to food, beverages or lip care products.
I see a lot of patients with chapped lips. Before they’ve seen me, they’ve tried numerous chapped lip remedies, all without improvement. When I see that both the top and the bottom lips are chapped, I suspect an allergy as the cause.
In my dermatology practice, the most common lip allergens causing chapped lips are:
Citrus causes chapped lips
This includes the twist of lemon in your beverage, drinking orange juice, eating an orange etc. This is my lip allergen. I get chapped lips every time I squeeze lemon in my water or use it generously on food. Yes, lemon water dries my lips! Drats!!
I have citrus trees and love using the fruit. I know to expect dry, scaly lips after ingesting citrus and because I love the fruit I do it anyway. I can lessen the chapping by wearing a good hypoallergenic lip balm such as my certified organic Natural Lip Balm as a barrier, using a straw if I’m drinking the citrus and washing my lips soon after the exposure.
Mint causes chapped lips
Mint is in many products including gum, breath mints, dental products etc. I have a patient whose chapped lips were caused from regularly drinking mint tea.
Cinnamon causes chapped lips
Cinnamon products are less common but there is cinnamon in some dental products, teas and beverages. One of my patients developed dry lips from the cinnamon in Good Earth’s Original Flavor herb tea, which is loaded with cinnamon.
Lip balms and lipsticks cause chapped lips
Many ‘healing’ lip balms designed to treat chapped lips actually contain well intended allergens that you can be allergic to. The product I see the most problems with is Bert’s Bees Lip Balms, but there are many other products patients bring me that are loaded with allergens. The common lip product allergen ingredients include eucalyptus, mint, lanolin, chemical/non-mineral sunscreen ingredients as well as the fragrance and flavors in the lip products.
How do you know if your chapped lips due to an allergy?
If your chapped lips are due to an allergy, they become chapped within a few days after exposure to the allergen, and can take a week or more to heal. If you think that you may have chapped lips due to an allergic reaction, try avoiding the allergens that I listed above for a month.
Moisturize your lips with a simple, low allergen product. My favorite is my Natural Lip Balm made with organic ingredients and without fragrance or flavors that can be allergens. I keep tubes of this lip balm everywhere because I always need lip balm - in my purse, bathroom, pocket, gym bag etc.
When you are outdoors in the sun you need a hypoallergenic sunscreen lip balm that also blocks the sun's harmful UV rays. Avoid products that contain chemical sunscreens because they can be allergens. Use a lip SPF made with the mineral sunscreen ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. My favorite lip sunscreen is Vanicream Lip Protectant SPF 30
Other hypoallergenic lip balm options include pure shea butter (L’Occitane has a nice Mini Pure Shea Butter tin with 100% pure shea butter). You can also try plain Vaseline, but it’s irritating to some people. When your lips have healed, retest just one of the allergens. If your dry lips reoccur you have your answer.