The One Thing You Should Never Put On Chapped Lips, According To A Dermatologist

November 21, 2016 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

Winter means chapped lips and chapped lips mean days of uncomfortable torture where we can’t rock our favorite red lipstick without obsessing over cracks and dryness ruining our look. No matter how vigilant you are about applying balm and exfoliating weekly with natural ingredients like honey and brown sugar, it’s difficult to avoid getting chapped lips once temperatures drop. In order to ensure they heal as quickly as possible, there is one thing you should never, ever put on your poor, dry lips.

“Avoid menthols (Carmex, Blistex),” says Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills and Clinical Instructor at the University of Southern California. “These will irritate and sting broken lip skin, which can lead to further lip-licking and lips to become more dried out and chapped.”

You should also avoid scrubbing lips with abrasive products and ingredients and rely instead on a gentle exfoliating lip ointment that contains fruit acids, Shainhouse says. When it comes to your makeup routine, one popular lip product isn’t going to do chapped lips any favors.

“Matte lipsticks can look cool, but they can dry out your lips and make them more sensitive to potential contact irritants and allergens in your lipsticks, including fragrances, parabens, dyes, and preservatives,” Shainhouse says. “Avoid fragranced and flavored products. These can cause a contact irritation or even a contact allergic dermatitis on already-broken chapped lip skin. Stick with fragrance-free, soothing products that moisturize and create a seal.”

The best thing you can do to help soothe chapped lips is to use lip products with natural oils and butters (cocoa butter, shea butter, argan oil, cononut oil, avocado oil) that will create a protective layer to hold in moisture and seal and smooth the outer epidermal layer of the lips, Shainhouse says. And remember: the sun may not be scalding hot, but that doesn’t mean you should forget to treat your lips daily with the most important skincare ingredient of all: sunscreen.

“Don’t forget to wear sunscreen on your lips, even in the winter,” Shainhouse says. “Lips have thin skin and very little melanin, so they have minimal innate protection from aging and damaging UV rays. UV can reflect off of snow, just as easily as water and sand. Use a moisturizing or protective balm with SPF 15 or higher.”

For more beauty tips, check out 5 cheap skincare products dermatologists swear by and once and for all, does foundation actually clog your pores? 

Follow me at @lisacfogarty on Twitter.


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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