Ask Grace: What Are Your Tips For Looking After Chapped Lips?

Hi Grace, 

I’ve never really had issues with dry lips before, but this winter they’re incredibly chapped, to the point where they feel sore and look flaky. Do you have any tips for looking after them, or is it just a case of applying as much lip balm as possible? 


Our lips don’t get nearly as much TLC as they should. When you think about what we put them through and how exposed they are, it makes sense that at some point they’ll start to show wear and tear. As with many skin concerns, winter is inevitably the time that causes dry lips to flare up. The weather gets cold and we crank the heating up, but this combination of cold and hot air is what wreaks havoc on lips – and skin in general. 

The skin on our lips is much thinner than on the rest of our face, which is why they’re more susceptible to dryness than the rest of our skin, but essentially, you’ve got to treat your lips in the same way that you treat the rest of your face. That means keeping them moisturised so the skin barrier doesn’t become compromised – it’s this which leads to the common signs of dry lip such as dryness, chapping, tightness, and even bleeding if cracks get particularly bad.  

Lip balm is the obvious way to treat dry lips, but not all lip balms are created equally. If regular balms aren’t working for you, I’d recommend taking a close look at the ingredients list next time you go to purchase. Look out for ingredients that are going to nourish and moisturise your lips like castor oil, shea butter, avocado oil, squalane, cocoa butter, and vitamin E, but also for ingredients that will create a barrier on your skin to seal this moisture in – petroleum jelly is the obvious one. SPF is another ingredient to look out for – it goes without saying that your lips need the same amount of protection that the rest of your face gets and protecting against UV will help to prevent inflammation which will worsen irritation. Avoid anything that contains large amount of fragrance or that looks gimmicky – “flavoured” lip balms might sound fun, but when your lips are seriously dry, it’s best to focus on a formula that works. 

I also like to use a lip scrub. They’re great for exfoliating away dry, dead skin, but as with any form of exfoliation be careful not to overdo it, and don’t exfoliate if you have any open cuts or painful cracks. If you find that your lips are getting worse, you’re probably experiencing an irritation related to the balm you’re using, so switch it up. And if you don’t think they’re getting any better, you might want to consider layering lip products – as you would your facial skincare routine. Try a lip serum or light-textured balm beneath a thicker balm or mask. If you find it hard to be diligent with reapplication during the day (I know I do!), make a lip balm part of your nightly routine. At night time you can get away with applying a really thick layer of balm – like a mask – which left on undisturbed will work its magic overnight. 

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