by Farah Merani
Compared to any other skin-covered body part, the lips are one of the most unique and distinctive. They are also naturally predisposed to dryness. This is due to the lack of any sebaceous secretions. In other words, there’s no natural oil to keep the thin layer of skin moist and hydrated. They really do have it rough, and need a little external assistance.
We all experience dry lips, and the instinctive response is to lick them. While this may temporarily relieve the dryness, it’s actually one of the worst things to do. Saliva does nothing but strip whatever moisture there is from your lips, causing even greater dryness and ultimately that rough, chapped feeling. Chronic dryness can lead to painful, cracked and sore lips that are also uncomfortable and unsightly.
The elements are also a major cause of chapped lips, whether the sun, wind or cold. Using a wax-based emollient with an SPF of 15 or greater can help prevent permanent damage by prolonged exposure to sun. Regular reapplication is necessary, just like any other sunscreen, but in the case of the lips, this means after eating and drinking as well.
A simple and effective way of treating dry lips is to use a naturally formulated lip balm or gloss. Anything that contains ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax or cocoa butter will help soothe the dryness while also moisturizing and softening the skin. Regular use is imperative in order to prevent a return to dryness.
Sloughing off the dead skin is also useful when treating the surface of the skin and keeping lips smooth and soft. Using a gentle face scrub or super soft toothbrush are great ways of removing any dead and flaky skin. Applying a super hydrating lip balm immediately after is a surefire way of locking in moisture.
Although it’s hard to imagine what we’d do without the ever-vital lip balm, there’s no need to fear that regular use will lead to a lip balm addiction. Formulae that contain beneficial oils, emollients and moisturizers, without the irritating and synthetic bases often found in traditional brands, can help prevent future dryness by protecting and nourishing the lips. So don’t feel guilty for having every single variety available on hand!