Dry, cracked lips: how do you get them and how do you get rid of them

Many people have a problem with dry lips. Lips are covered with an exceptionally thin and transparent layer of skin that is very prone to drying out (for example because of the weather). This means that almost all of us could do with some extra help to keep our lips smooth and prevent dehydration.

Causes of dry lips

One of the most significant causes of dry lips is sun damage. Even if the sun is not shining brightly and it is cloudy, your lips need protection against UV rays.

If you often suffer from dry, cracked lips, you should consider other factors that might be among the causes, such as matt or long-lasting lipsticks, lip balms with irritating ingredients like perfume or mint and certain medication (for example excessive intake of Vitamin A or remedies against fungal infections).

How do you treat dry, cracked lips?

Use a good, soothing lip balm, lip gloss or lipstick with a SPF of at least 30 every day. Sun filters such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or avobenzone (butyl-methoxydibenzoylmethane) are essential. If you are spending a lot of time outdoors, apply the product more regularly. Also use a calming lip balm in the evening.

Many people tend to lick their lips when they are dry. This only makes the problem worse. Saliva damages the thin layer of skin covering the lips. You may end up in a vicious circle that can lead to painful, chapped lips.

Addicted to lip balm?

It is sometimes claimed that your lips can become habituated or ‘addicted’ to lip balm. That is not true. However, if you use a balm that contains irritating ingredients and/or not enough calming and healing ingredients, your lips will remain dry and will only get drier. So avoid products containing fragrances and/or irritating ingredients such as menthol, camphor, peppermint or citrus.

About lips

Lips look red because of the blood vessels under the ultra-thin, transparent layer of skin. If the weather is extremely cold or your body temperature falls dramatically, the blood vessels in the lips close. This reduces the oxygen supply to the lips and they can turn blue.

Lips have barely any sebaceous glands and no sweat glands. Lips lose moisture three to ten times faster than other parts of the body or face. Along with changes in the weather (such as dry air in the winter or living in a dry climate), this is why your lips become dry.

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