6 Tips & Tricks for Combating Dry, Chapped Lips

how to combat dry chapped lips

I’ve struggled with dry lips my whole life.  Occasionally, if I’m lucky, I’ll get maybe one or two days a week where they look absolutely perfect – smooth, soft, and hydrated.  But then, soon enough, they’ll dry up and start peeling again.  And so the cycle continues…

Up and until recently though, a majority of the peeling and dryness has, strangely enough, stopped.  Curious as to what may have caused this shift, I looked back over my routine these past months and realized I’d actually made quite a few changes – from my everyday lip maintenance ritual to even my diet – all of which I imagine are helping to contribute to my now happy lips. 🙂

Especially this time of year, I know a lot of you guys are probably struggling with dry lips too, so I thought I’d share some of the things that I’ve been doing differently day-to-day, in hopes that maybe one or two of these tips will help you out as well!  Let’s jump right in…

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Swap Your Balm for Natural Oils

Ever find yourself constantly having to re-apply balm, every 10-15 minutes?  That’s one sign that maybe your lip balm is actually making your lips drier.  Some of the biggest culprits – found in a majority of mainstream lip balms today – include petroleum jelly, mineral oil, and parrafin.  They act as sealants rather than moisturizers, meaning they don’t get absorbed into the skin.  Instead, they form a thick coating over the lips and suffocate them, sealing the pores so moisture can’t get in or out.  Plus, they can build up on your lips and prevent normal shedding of dead skin, causing the vicious cycle of flaking and dryness to continue.

You’re best bet is to use natural oils, which lock in moisture but still allow your skin to breathe.  Avocado oil, rosehip oil, coconut oil, and jojoba oil are all great options (just make sure to look for the unrefined versions).  You can apply them straight to your lips, or look for them in lip balms (my personal favorites are Bee All Natural’s all-natural, organic balms).

One thing to note however, is that while natural oils and ingredients tend to work best for our skin, they may not all work for everyone.  According to this article from the Beauty Editor, natural ingredients like beeswax, vitamin E, castor oil, and lanolin can actually be allergens or irritants for some people, meaning they’ll only worsen symptoms of dryness, peeling, and cracking.  So if you have dry lips that never seem to go away – even if you’re using an all-natural balm – try to pin-point the ingredient that’s not agreeing with your particular skin type by testing out a variety of formulas (beeswax-free, vitamin E-free, etc).

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Use a Nighttime Treatment

If you suffer from dry lips, you know nighttime can be the worst.  Between the hours of not drinking water, applying balm, or even breathing from your mouth if your sinuses are congested, our lips can quickly turn into a disaster by morning.  That’s why it’s especially important to keep a high-quality overnight serum or mask on your nightstand, and make sure to apply it every night before bed.

One that’s been working amazing for me is Fresh’s Sugar Lip Serum.  It’s the only formula that manages to keep my lips hydrated all night long.  A little goes a long way too – I use the tiniest dab (~1/4 of a pea-size), and that’s enough to cover my entire lip area.  It also absorbs super quickly, and doesn’t leave behind a greasy/heavy/oily coating over the lips – which is another huge plus in my book!

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Exfoliate Daily with a Lip Scrub

When it comes to exfoliating the lips, some people recommend using a toothbrush or a washcloth, though I’ve personally found both to be a bit too harsh.  Toothbrush bristles can poke and tear at the skin, especially if they’re already chapped, and a washcloth can be rough and often ineffective when it comes to removing skin from such a small and delicate part of our face.

Fortunately, that’s where a lip scrub comes in!  I’ve tried quite a few, and the one that’s worked best for me is Fresh’s lip scrub.  It contains fairly large granules of brown sugar that provide a good amount of exfoliation.  Once those dissolve (or you wipe them away), it leaves behind a light layer of hydrating oils and butters that soften and smooth the lips, prepping them for lipstick.  The jar is a bit pricey ($24), but a little goes a long way – I’ve been using it daily for 2 weeks now and barely made a decent in it so far.  (Of course, you can always make a similar lip scrub recipe at home by mixing a little oil – like olive oil – with brown sugar.)

Another one of my favorite lip products that’s part scrub, part balm, part plumper (and all-natural!) is the K Voss Cinnamon Lip Plumper.  The key ingredient – cassia oil (aka cinnamon oil) – is an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, plus it helps stimulate blood circulation, making it an amazing revitalizer for dry skin!  It also contains coconut, almond, and olive oils, which leave the lips smooth, soft, and soothed.

how to combat dry lips - apple cider vinegar

Exfoliate Weekly with Apple Cider Vinegar

Another way to exfoliate the lips is to dab on a little apple cider vinegar.  If you think about it, using vinegar on the lips is not too far-fetched.  I mean, we use all kinds of acids like lactic and glycolic acid on our face to help chemical exfoliate and reveal softer, fresher looking skin. And I’m sure some of you are probably already using apple cider vinegar on your hair or face – it has so many benefits!  The same applies to the lips – the acids in the apple cider vinegar provide gentle exfoliation by dissolving dead skin cells.  (They can also create a burning sensation on the lips, depending on how chapped they are – just to warn you.)  Afterwards, your lips will feel super soft and supple to the touch.

Here’s my process: Using a Q-tip, I’ll lightly apply the apple cider vinegar onto my lips (you can use it straight, or dilute it with water – I just use it straight).  After letting it sit for about 1 minute, I’ll wipe away the excess and finish up with a little coconut or jojoba oil (never forget this part – just like how you wouldn’t forget to apply a moisturizer after an a chemical facial peel!).  I’ll typically do this 2-3 times a week.

Now, this may not work for everyone.  After doing a bit of research online on this method, I did find that the results were mixed.  However for me, it works so well that I decided to include it as something to at least consider trying out!

red apple lipstick mabel swatch

Switch to a Hydrating Lipstick

If your lips are prone to dryness throughout the day, consider switching your everyday lipstick to a more moisturizing one.  This year I’ve been switching things of and using Red Apple Lipstick’s natural, hydrating lipsticks.  My favorite shades are Mabel (shown above), Audrey, and Maven Mauve – all are great everyday ‘my-lips-but-better’ shades.  Because of the oils in these lippies, they do add a slight sheen to the lips.  Of course, if you’ve got to have your matte lip, I’ve heard NAR’s Powermatte Lip Pigments are quite hydrating, and for a more budget-friendly option, I can’t recommend Pixi’s new MatteLast Liquid lipsticks enough (plus they layer well over balm, if you find that you still need to use one).

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Hydrate from the Inside Out

And lastly, because our skin struggles are often linked to what’s going on inside our bodies, it’s important to keep an eye on our diet.  When it comes to hydration especially, it’s of course important to drink enough water, as well as consume high quality fats.  This could mean incorporating more fish into your diet, taking a fish oil supplement, cooking with avocado, coconut, or olive oil, or simply adding some coconut oil to your smoothies or morning coffee!  The key is to feed your body with the healthy oils it needs to moisturize itself from the inside out.  I’ve personally been eating more fish (thanks to the new sushi place that opened up down the street from me!), using coconut oil in my coffee and smoothies, and cooking with avocado oil more lately, and I believe all that’s helping!

Keep Experimenting!

The above everyday rituals have almost completely ended my dry lip struggles (most surprisingly, during the driest, coldest part of the year too)!  Of course, dry, chapped lips can be caused by a number of different reasons, like dehydration, diet, and other internal imbalances.  Everyone’s situation is going to be different, so make sure to experiment with various methods to find a solution that works best for you!


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Have you tried any of these product swaps or dry lip remedies?

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