It’s chapstick season, and that means your favourite chapstick is at hand.

Experts warn that lip balms can be different and make dry lips even worse.

The skin on our lips is not as oily and has a thinner layer of skin. For this reason the skin on our lips tends to be drier and more sensitive,” explains Dr. Caroline Robinson, dermatologist and founder of Tone Dermatology.

She recommends avoiding ingredients like methanol, alcohols and fragrance to prevent potential irritation. 

Dr. Samer Jaber, a dermatologist at Washington Square Dermatology in New York, adds “while balms and chapsticks can temporarily soothe irritated lips, they often have chemicals that may cause further irritation… (including) flavors, fragrance and preservatives that can dry and irritate your lips.”

He also recommends avoiding salicylic acid, menthol and camphor when your lips are dry as those ingredients can also irritate lips. 

A rule of thumb from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) is, “if your lips burn, sting or tingle after using a lip product, stop using that product.”

Which one should you choose?

“The best way to keep your lips moist in the winter is to moisturize frequently with thick healing ointments,” Jaber says. “I always recommend using thicker moisturizing ointments like Vaseline or Aquaphor in colder weather. For warmer months, when the lips are more susceptible to cracking and drying out, lighter lip moisturizers such as chapstick or balm are better.

He suggests looking for products with these ingredients: petrolatum, also known as petroleum jelly, mineral oils, honey, beeswax and shea butter.

He adds that a plain 100% petrolatum cream is best for people with skin conditions. 

Robinson agrees that fragrance-free lip products with petrolatum, glycerin, dimethicone, ceramides or shea butter are the way to go.

It is important that you protect your lips against the sun by using a lipbalm with at least SPF 30. Both of these steps can help combat dry, rough and cracked lips in the winter.”

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She also says it’s safe to reapply a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic lip balm throughout the day. She recommends it for persistently dry lips.

You can always change the things around.

According to her, it is always a smart idea to change your lip products as the skin of our lips changes with time and seasons.

Are you still struggling with dry lips? Jaber suggests using a humidifier at night to add moisture to the dry air.

Don’t pick dry skin off your lips either, since “that just makes it worse,” he explains.

You can also lick them. It may seem natural to lick your lips if they feel dry. However, this could make the situation worse. According to AAD: “Your lips will become dryer as your saliva evaporates.” So when you catch yourself licking your lips, apply your lip balm instead.

Jaber advises against using lipstick or lip gloss if your lips are already dry.

The AAD also recommends that you drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

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