Rough, flaky lips aren’t just a mood killer — they can also be painful (especially when they begin to crack and split). Since it’s a universal truth that no one wants chapped lips, here’s some simple advice for keeping your kisser soft and smooth.
What causes chapped lips?
First, the facts: Anything that disrupts the delicate skin barrier of your lips is going to cause a domino effect that begins with dryness and ends with cracking. That’s because the skin barrier is also what prevents moisture from evaporating from the tissue and also guards against any external nastiness (think allergens, dirt, irritants, and so forth) trying to sneak in. Common culprits in skin barrier disruption include dry environments, UV exposure, and exfoliants.
The dry environment callout is especially relevant as we head into winter. Not only is there naturally less moisture in the air during cold weather, the indoor heating systems we use to combat the freezing temps outside are also inherently drying. Even if you’re not predisposed to chapped lips during the majority of the year, you may find yourself fighting flakes once the mercury dips. Being proactive by strengthening the skin barrier is an essential part of keeping chapping at bay.
Speaking of the skin barrier, you can also be your own worst enemy when it comes to skin barrier disruption. When we see flaky skin, our first thought is often to reach for an exfoliator. After all, that’s what we do when we have dry body skin. But that’s actually a terrible idea for lips. The skin on our mouths is tissue thin, unlike — for example — the tough, thick skin on our elbows and legs. Scrubbing or picking at this delicate tissue makes it even more difficult for the lips’ moisture barrier to repair itself.
As a result, you’ll find yourself stuck in an endless loop of flaking and dryness if you decide to go this route. While it may be difficult in the short term, the best thing you can do is grit your teeth and wait out the flaking while infusing lips with a continuous supply of moisture.
Our Dr. Dennis Gross DermInfusions Plump + Repair Lip Treatment is formulated with four different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, the miracle molecule known for holding 1,000 times its weight in water. This enables our Plump + Repair Lip Treatment to penetrate lip tissue at varying depths, delivering hyaluronic acid’s humectant power throughout the area.
Ingredients to look for in lip care
If your lip product’s formulation contains any or all of the below, you’re in good hands.
- Hyaluronic acid to hydrate
- Peptides to stimulate collagen production
- Bisabolol to soothe and combat free radicals (it’s an antioxidant)
- Centella asiatica to reduce inflammation and also fight free radicals (it’s an antioxidant, too)
- Ectoin to stabilize the skin barrier and quash free radicals (yep, it’s also an antioxidant)
- All-mineral SPF to protect against UV rays
- And of course LED therapy!
Ingredients to avoid in lip care
Steer clear of everything on the following list to give your lips their best shot at being flake-free.
- Scrubs and polishes, no matter what they’re made of (even natural ingredients, like sugar)
- Irritant-based lip plumpers (think “venom” anything), which induce a temporary swelling effect by irritating skin
- “Cooling” ingredients, like menthol, camphor, eucalyptus, and phenol, intended to give lips a pleasant tingle, but that can cause dryness and irritation over time
- Simple alcohols, such as isopropyl and ethanol, which upend skin’s barrier function (important note: “fatty alcohols,” like cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl, are totally fine for lips and other skin)
- Synthetic fragrances — these artificial additives do a number on the skin barrier without offering any upside
Learn more about lip care from the experts at Dr. Dennis Gross
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