A guide to nursing chapped lips back to the land of the living

Although our tropical country doesn’t get to experience the variation of having four seasons, our early mornings and late nights have been chillier than usual! The rare gift of Philippine #sweaterweather is upon us, and we can slide into our comfy jumpers and knits even out of Baguio. While it certainly feels good to take a break from the heat, cold weather actually dries out our skin way faster than the hot summer sun. Dry, flaky skin doesn’t have to be the new normal though, and we’ve written about how to SOS (save our skin) from dying from the cold. But did you know that you should give your pretty pout some extra TLC, too?

Our lips are actually much more sensitive than the rest of our face, so it’s fairly common to get flaky lips for other reasons besides the weather. The skin on that area doesn’t have the features that aid with moisture retention, like pores and sweat glands. As a result, a lack of proper hydration, using the wrong products, and even having poor habits can result in dry, flaky, and even painful cracks on the lips. If you’re ready to turn that frown back into a smile, read on to find out how to reclaim a kissable pout.

Keep balm and carry on

For many of us, the immediate reaction to the first sign of flaking is to swipe some lip balm on. This is definitely a GREAT habit to form, especially as way to prevent lip dryness from happening in the first place. A good formula will keep your pout smooth and help lipsticks and tints glide on better. If you don’t own a lip mask, applying a layer (or even two) of lip balm before bedtime works pretty well - just think of it as another skincare step before hitting the hay!

But wait, if there are “good formulas”, are there “bad ones”, too? If you already suffer from chapped lips, it may be best to stay away from flavored or intensely scented lip balms. While the ingredients themselves are not necessarily harmful, yummy-tasting formulas may encourage the habit of licking your lips and cause them to dry out even more. Some fragrances and flavorings can also irritate lips if you have sensitive skin.

My personal favorites are the In Her Element Nourishing Cocoa Balm (a steal at just P185 from inherelement.ph) for a solid formula that leaves a healthy shine, and the oldie but goodie Lucas Pawpaw Ointment (P599 for 25g at BeautyMNL) for a multipurpose soothing balm in a pinch. Like the rest of your face, your lips also need sun protection so a formula like Sun Bum Coconut SPF30 (P300 at Beauty Bar) is a must if you’re outdoors a lot. For a hint of color, the Shiseido ColorGel Lipbalm (P1,400 at Shiseido) is a super lightweight but hydrating treat.

Drink it all up

This simple change makes a world of difference! The World Health Organization recommends AT LEAST eight 8oz glasses of water a day to meet your body’s needs. Apart from its health implications, dehydration results in bad beauty juju: a sickly pale complexion, dull and crepe-y skin, and cracked lips. Just plain water is best! Also lessen your intake of dehydrating beverages that contain caffeine and alcohol. If you find water too boring, you can infuse it with fresh fruit (lemons and strawberries are my favorite), or eat more water-rich fruits like apples and watermelon. Your body will thank you.

Pro-tip #1: If you have a hard time remembering to drink water, set reminders on your phone or use an app to record your progress and keep you motivate. I personally use My Fitness Pal (free for Android and iOS) but there are cute ones like Plant Nanny (free for Android and iOS) that make forming a water-drinking habit more fun.

Pro-tip #2: Look for a cute, nifty tumbler to stay hydrated on the go. Not only are you getting more water intake, but you’re also saving on bottled water and doing Mother Nature a good deed. I’ve been using my trusty Klean Kanteen for around four years now!

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Save the date and exfoliate

Ever wondered how to get that perfectly seamless matte pout? This might seem counterintuitive when bits of your lips are already flaking off on their own, but exfoliation is key to giving your lips a fresh start. Sloughing away the dry and cracked skin reveals the soft and smooth new skin underneath, and is gentler on your lips compared to pulling or biting the flakes off. A homemade scrub of honey and brown sugar works just fine, but if you want something that’s also moisturizing, check out Human Heart Nature’s Natural Lip Scrub (P195 at humanheartnature.com) or Ellana’s Edible Sugar Lip Scrub (P399 at ellanacosmetics.com) which doubles as a lipstick remover.

Apply your scrub of choice and very gently rub your lips with a clean toothbrush or damp towel for a few seconds before rinsing off. Take care not to scrub too hard, too long, or too often as over-exfoliation can worsen the problem. Once-a-week is usually enough for baby smooth lips, and apply a lip mask or treatment to make them extra plush!

How do you deal when your lips get chapped? What are your favorite lip balms and treatments?

Lip balm photos by Nicole Quindara