How To Get Rid Of Dry Lips, According To Experts 
How To Get Rid Of Dry Lips, According To Experts 

How To Get Rid Of Dry Lips, According To Experts 

7 minutes read

Chilly winds, spicy food, or too much alcohol can lead to dry lips. Find out how to keep lips soft, nourished and flake-free.

Beauty Daily spoke to three experts and asked what causes dry lips and how to treat and prevent it from lip care, dietary and lifestyle recommendations to follow so you won’t have to suffer anymore. Keep reading. 

What exactly are dry lips?

Do a self-check test if you’re wondering what dry lips look and feel like. First, see if you have one, two, or all of the main symptoms, including dryness, flaking, peeling, swelling, cracking, or worse, bleeding. If you tick some or all of them, bingo. You have dry lips!  

Experts say the skin on our lips is the thinnest on the body. But unfortunately, it is also one of the most sensitive and delicate, making it prone to damage. 

Charlotte McHale, Clarins Training Manager, explains, “The lips don’t have a protective layer. It neither has sweat nor sebaceous glands which are responsible for producing the hydrolipidic film, the skin’s bodyguard.” 

This makes them vulnerable to external aggressors and susceptible to becoming dry and flaky.

What causes dry lips?

Woman appplying a lip balm

“Dry lips are a common condition. It is usually harmless but could cause discomfort until treated. It can feel dry, and tight. Several factors cause lips to dry: from environmental factors and lifestyle choices to certain health conditions or medication reactions, all of which can lead to loss of hydration, irritation and inflammation,” Wedad Abdelrahman, NHS Consultant Dermatologist tells Beauty Daily.  

Here are six common causes of dry lips: 

1. Environment factors: 

Constant exposure to environmental factors, such as sun exposure, fluctuating weather conditions, harsh wind, and dry air, are common culprits of dry lips. Experts say the lack of moisture from the surroundings dries out the skin. Mouth breathing can also cause chapped lips.

2. Drinking too much alcohol

Dehydration is one of the leading causes of dry lips. The next time you’re drinking and socialising, make sure to keep yourself hydrated by drinking water after each alcoholic beverage.  

Keep a nourishing lip gloss or lip balm in the shade you fancy and keep it handy—swipe for moisturised lips all night long. A glass of water at your bedside table ready in the morning after a night out is also a great idea to help manage symptoms of dehydration. 

Read next: Does Alcohol Age Your Skin? The Experts Weigh In

3. Excessive lip licking

If you think lip licking can solve your chapped lips issues, you’re entirely mistaken. Instead, you’re making it worse. Experts say saliva aggravates dryness, which is why your lips seem to get drier and drier the more you try to lick and fix the issue.  

Experts explain that repeated lip licking can lead to a chronic condition known as lip licker’s dermatitis. So the next time you catch yourself licking your lips, apply a non-irritating lip balm instead.

4. Spicy and salty food 

Experts suggest refraining from consuming too much salty and spicy food, which can irritate your lips and cause inflammation. 

“Salty food draws moisture out of your lips, leaving them dry and dehydrated. The salt can also aggravate lip skin irritation by increasing sensitivity to the other ingredients in your food,” says Gail Warren, Nutritional Therapist and Owner of Nutrition on the Hill.

Adding, “Spicy food can also cause skin irritation and water loss. Any food that sticks to your lips and causes you to lick them repeatedly can cause them to dry out even more as saliva can dry out the natural moisture in your skin.” 

5. Cosmetics 

The American Academy of Dermatology Association advises that if you feel certain lip sensations such as burning, stinging, or feeling uncomfortable when you apply a product to your lips, it means you’re irritating your lips, so you have to stop using that product.

6. Vitamin deficiency

B vitamins, zinc and iron deficiencies have been reported to be a potential cause of dry lips. So load up your greens as they are rich in zinc and iron. 

Vitamin B2 is also essential for cell function and keeps lips supple and healthy. Vitamin B2 rich foods are eggs and lean meat. 

“Dry lips can also be linked to a lack of vitamin E-rich foods, such as olive oil, omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, avocados, wheat germ, nuts and seeds and their unrefined oils. I advise adding these foods to one’s diet. You can also use a good quality vitamin E oil on your lips before bed,” Warren advises.  

Clarins Lip Comfort Oils are enriched with Vitamin E thanks to jojoba and Hazelnut oils. 

Beauty Daily recommends using Lip Comfort Oil in Honey Shade and leaving it overnight for ultra- nourished lips in the morning. 

7 Expert-approved dry lips remedies 

1. Exfoliate your lips  

“You can exfoliate your lips using the Comfort Scrub. It contains sugar microcrystals from beetroot effective in removing dead skin cells, while the wild mango butter has nourishing properties to soothe the lips. So it’s oily and gentle, and it works brilliantly as a lip exfoliator,” McHale says. 

McHale advises to be gentle as the skin on the lips are thin and delicate, “Let the product do the work. You don’t need to add additional pressure or friction. It will gently take away any dry skin from the lips.”

2. Moisturise your lips with a lip balm 

To plump and smooth the lips, McHale recommends the Extra-Firming Lip and Contour Balm.“This soothing balm is formulated with raspberry seed oil and shea butter which repairs, replenishes, softens and moisturises chapped lips.”

Or we love the Hydra-Essentiel Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm. This excellent lip care has multiple five-star ratings for its ability to replenish and restore the driest of lips. It has a natural rosy tint which gives the lips a more plumped appearance. What’s more it’s great for lip wrinkles, as well as dry skin too! 

McHale couldn’t agree more, “It has got good ingredients: blue lotus wax which works as a good barrier and it lasts ages because it’s quite waxy and a little goes a long way. So you can drink water and it won’t come off, whereas obviously, sometimes you get lip balms that don’t last long.”  

Clarins beauty advisors also recommend the New Calm-Essentiel Soothing Repairing Balm for people with dry, cracked, and itchy lips. Apply liberally to affected areas to soothe sensitivity, dryness and irritation at any time during the day. 

Calm Essential Soothing Balm

3. Apply sunscreen on your lips  

Lips are just as prone to the sun’s radiation as the rest of the body, which means they’re also vulnerable to skin cancer. “I recommend applying sunscreen on the lips too.” Choose a lip balm or a sunscreen stick, ideally with SPF50 with UVAblock,” Abdelrahman advises. 

Apart from the SPF in lip balms, look for moisturising ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, glycerin and shea butter. Swipe a fresh coat after eating, drinking, or sweating. 

Reapply every two hours for continued sun protection. 

4. Stay hydrated 

“Since dehydration can be a major cause of dry lips, make sure to keep hydrated and aim for an intake of two litres of filtered water a day which can include herbal teas,” Warren advises. 

5. Invest in a humidifier 

If your environment is arid,  invest in a humidifier. Keep the humidity in your home between 30% and 50%.

6. Avoid holding items made of metal with your lips

Jewellery and other everyday products made of metal can irritate your already inflamed lips.

7. Eat a rainbow diet

If you want to treat and prevent dry lips, opt for non-citrus fruits and vegetables.

“All vegetables and fruits are alkalising, so eat ‘the rainbow’ regularly. However, some fruits and vegetables can raise acidities, such as tomatoes, cranberries, citrus fruits, rhubarb, prunes, plums, dried fruit and to a lesser extent, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, so be mindful not to overload on these,” Warren advises. 

“Everything is about balance, including the body’s pH level, which needs about 70% alkaline and 30% acidic foods to function optimally,” she says.  

Symptoms your dry lips need medical attention 

While dry lips don’t require medical intervention, some may develop a more severe form of dry lip condition called cheilitis. 

Cheilitis is a condition that causes red, swollen patches in the corners of the mouth where your lips meet and make an angle. The NHS advises seeing a GP if your lips are hot, painful and swollen as this could be a sign of infection. 

While the environment and lifestyle choices are common causes of dry lips, certain health conditions, such as thyroid disease or Crohn’s Disease, can all have chapped lips as a side effect.

In addition, experts say menopausal and post-menopausal women often experience estrogen levels drop. This result in a reduction of saliva flow in some women causing dry mouth and dry lips.

“If after following a healthy dietary and lifestyle change you see no improvement or if symptoms become worse, you should consult with your doctor as there could be an underlying medical condition or a vitamin/mineral deficiency,” Warren advises. 

Suffering from dry under eyes? Read How to Tackle Dry Skin Around The Eyes.

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