Pucker Up! Lip Care Dos and Don’ts

Young woman pursing her lips, portrait

Got a daily facial routine down pat? Good for you! Now what about your lips? They deserve attention too. Wind, UV rays, cold temperatures can all do a number on your lips. And then there’s the damage you’re capable of doing yourself – be in licking, or worse, picking.

You’ve probably already noticed that the skin making up your lips is softer and more sensitive than other skin areas. It’s also prone to damage more easily, not to mention age more quickly. Lips do not possess sebaceous glands which produce oil, therefore they need extra care to stay hydrated. For soft and healthy lips, here’s some things to do and others to definitely avoid.

DO protect your lips from the elements
Remember to moisturize and use sunscreen on your lips just as you would other areas of your skin. Look for lips balms containing SPF 30 or higher and accomplish both tasks with just one swipe.

DON’T use lip balms with too many extraneous ingredients
Sometimes you can develop an irritation or allergic reaction to ingredients that are added to lip balms for marketing purposes. Botanicals, colorings, flavorings, fragrances – all these things can annoy particularly sensitive skin and do more harm than good. Look for products with ingredients like petrolatum and aloe vera. They’re particularly effective at softening and protecting lips and aren’t as likely to cause a reaction.

DO drink plenty of fluids
It’s important to stay hydrated because your mouth and lips suffer quickly from the effects of dehydration. Cracked lips are never attractive and can be quite painful. There’s also a tendency to want to pick at the flaking bits of skin which can lead to bleeding and other damaging results.

DON’T lick your lips
In a pinch, when your lips are dry, you might think to solve the problem by licking them. Unfortunately, saliva only draws moisture out of your lips as it evaporates, leaving them drier than before. Much better to keep a chapstick or similar in your pocket or purse to moisten and protect.

DO see a dermatologist if chronic chapped lips persist
Unknown to you, an underlying allergic or irritant reaction to products could be occurring. There’s also the possibility of pre-cancerous sun damage that would require different treatment altogether.

DON’T over moisturize
Sounds kind of contradictory, doesn’t it? But some folks act as if they’re addicted to their chapstick, swiping it across their lips constantly. Experts say a couple of times a day is sufficient for most people. Perhaps link reapplication to after mealtimes, just as you would brush your teeth! If you still feel the need for a deep moisturizing session, slather some petroleum jelly on your lips before going to bed.

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