Lips don’t lie! And certainly, chapped lips reveal a lot of unhappy truths about how you live, travel, eat, and take care of yourself. And beyond the aesthetic angle, they can get painful too, so it’s important to fix dry, chapped lips before they become worse. Why do chapped lips happen at all? Among the host of possible reasons, cold and dry weather is at the top of the list. Other reasons could be:
- Vitamin B deficiency
- Certain drugs such as oral acne medications
- Health conditions like fungal infection or anemia
- Spicy, salty, or acidic foods that can irritate or dry out the lips
- Contact dermatitis from a lipstick or lip balm – even your toothpaste, anti-aging creams, and lip-plumping products may have allergy-inducing chemicals
- Sensitivity to nickel that’s commonly used in dental work. If you’ve recently had braces fitted or visited your dentist for other treatment, this may be a cause of your chapped lips.
- Latex sensitivity, from the dentist’s examining gloves
- Fragrances and dyes from soaps, perfumes,and detergents which irritate the lips
- Smoking, which causes evaporation of skin oil near the lips
- Too much sun exposure, leading to a pre-malignant condition called acitinic chelitis (a rare occurrence, though)12
With a combination of sensible steps and natural remedies found on your kitchen shelves, you can fix chapped lips. These are easy to put together and apply, and economical too.
1. Use Honey To Heal And Exfoliate Dry Lips
Since ancient times, honey has been favored as a folk remedy for wounds and skin problems. Thanks to its moisturizing properties, it’s an easy home remedy for your chapped lips. To use, apply a thin film of honey over the chapped areas at night. If your lips are cracked or bleeding, honey’s antiseptic ability can help soothe them.3
2. Dab On Olive Oil To Soothe And Moisturize Chapped Lips
Another off-the-kitchen-shelf remedy for fixing chapped lips is wondrous olive oil. Its moisturizing properties are the stuff of legend. Add to that the antioxidative effects of its vitamin E content and its ability to protect cell membranes, and you have a perfect lip balm.6
To soften and soothe chapped lips, dab and spread a few drops of this Mediterranean oil over your lips. Do include a tablespoonful of olive oil to your daily diet to keep your body supple, soft, and free of dryness.7
3. Combine Healing Rosewater With Glycerin For Cracked Lips
Rosewater contains healing phenolic compounds that can soothe dry and painful lips.8 Combine it with glycerin which has moisturizing properties and you have an effective remedy for chapped lips.
Another effective balm for chapped lips is a mixture of rosewater and honey.
To use, add a few drops of glycerin to a teaspoonful of rosewater. Mix well and apply over your chapped lips. In rare cases, glycerin may cause an allergy, so do a patch test on a small area of skin before applying on your lips if you are in doubt.9 10
4. Nourish Dry Lip Skin With Shea Butter
A shea butter lip balm recipe
- Mix 2 tbsps shea butter and 6 tbsps almond or soybean oil.
- Melt and blend in a double boiler over low heat.
- Blend in 20 drops of rosemary and 10 drops of sage essential oils once the mix is cool.
- The balm will be ready for use in about 24 hours when it becomes thick and white.
- This mixture can be used as a body conditioner and moisturizer as well!
Africans call the shea tree the “Tree of Life”, and rightly so, since the oil from its seeds is loaded with a host of nutrients and vitamins with healing and moisturizing properties. Its tocopherol (vitamin E) content gives antioxidant healing properties.11 It also has anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the triterpene alcohols in it.12
To top it off, shea butter not only has saponifiable fractions – fat fraction, in lay terms – responsible for its moisturizing properties, it also has an unusually high non-saponifiable fraction (5–17 percent) which gives it healing properties. Other seed oils have a much lower healing fraction (around 1 percent).13 14”
Shea butter can work as a quick-acting agent to help nourish and heal dry, chapped lips and keep them looking supple. Look for this excellent ingredient in herbal lip balms or make a balm for yourself right at home.15 16
5. Apply Coconut Oil For All-Round Relief
Coconut oil protects, soothes, softens, and repairs skin and is widely used in skincare products as its fatty acids closely resemble our skin oil (sebum).
To make a coconut oil lip balm, combine 3 parts coconut oil and 1 part beeswax and heat over a low flame until melted. Cool and store in a metal or glass container and apply over chapped lips as often as required.
Its excellent moisturizing properties are just what a pair of dry, cracked lips need. Simply apply a thin film of virgin coconut oil a few times daily to heal and soothe your lips. You can also mix it with other essential oils and use as a natural lip balm.17 18
6. Use Ayurvedic Remedy Ghee To Soothe And Heal
According to ayurveda, ghee or clarified butter is supposed to be both detoxifying (samshodhana) and palliative (samshana). Because it is a fat, ghee has an emollient quality. It also helps with healing thanks to its essential fatty acids.19 Massage your lips with ghee and even leave some on overnight to tackle dry, cracked, painful lips.20
7. Humidify Your Living Environment
Besides exploring natural topical remedies, take a few corrective steps to prevent or eliminate the likely causes of your chapped lips. For instance, come winter, your warm, heated home could be one of the main reasons your lips – and skin, in general – are drying out. A humidifier in the bedroom will help prevent or reduce dryness and keep your lips happier.
8. Don’t Lick Your Lips
Excessive licking can lead to “lip-licker’s dermatitis,” common in kids, where a reddish ring of irritated skin forms around the periphery of the lips.
When your lips are chapped and uncomfortable, it’s a natural reaction to re-moisten them with a lick of the tongue. What happens, though? When the saliva from your tongue dries up on the lips, they become drier than before. Also, digestive enzymes from the saliva, however mild, can aggravate existing dryness. Quit the temptation to lick your lips! Also, never pick or bite off dry, flaky skin from chapped lips.21
9. Use Your Own Skin Oils To Hydrate
Don’t have a lip balm handy? Your lips don’t have oil glands of their own, so you can help them out a little with this remedy when they get chapped. Place a finger along the side of your nose and then rub the finger gently over your chapped lips. A little natural oil from your face, adhering to the finger, will get transferred to your lips. In the normal course, this is how lips get some oil, from skin adjacent to them.22 Just be sure not to do this if your skin is grimy or dusty!
10. Eat Right To Get Rid Of Dryness
If nutritional deficiencies are the cause of your chapped lips, it’s time to pay attention to your diet, besides exploring topical applications.
Lack of sufficient B vitamins can cause the skin on your lips to become dry and scaly, while an iron deficiency can cause the corners of the mouth to crack (angular cheilitis).23 24 Tank up on B vitamin-rich foods like fish (salmon, cod), poultry, eggs, wholegrain cereals, soybean, fresh fruits, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, milk, and cheese.25 Green vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, and dried fruits are some examples of iron-rich foods you could include in your diet.26
You also need to check if food is the culprit. If you’ve been eating foods that are spicy or salty, try eliminating one of these at a time for a couple of weeks to see if they are the cause of your chapped lips.27
11. Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of fluids for your skin to stay well moisturized from the inside.28 You need 6–8 glasses of water in a day to give your body all the water it needs to stay in top shape – and more if you’ve been physically active or the weather’s taking a toll and you’re sweating a lot.
12. Protect Lips From The Sun
Lips need protection from the drying heat of the sun, just as much as other parts of the body. A herbal lip balm with natural sunscreen properties is what you need. Shea butter, carrot seed oil, and jojoba oil are all natural remedies that offer some sun protection. Just add them to your DIY lip balms and you’re all set!29
See A Doctor If You Also See White Patches Around Your Lips Or If Symptoms Persist
White patches or cracked corners at the mouth could be a sign of oral thrush, a yeast infection. Check it out with a doctor immediately. Denture wearers are especially vulnerable to such yeast infections and should wash their dentures thoroughly.30
Even otherwise, if these lifestyle changes and natural topical applications don’t fix your chapped lips and the dryness and flaking persist over a long period, it’s time to consult a dermatologist or allergy specialist to isolate the cause.
|↑1, ↑21, ↑22||The Editors of Prevention. The Doctors Book of Home Remedies: Quick Fixes, Clever Techniques, and Uncommon Cures to Get You Feeling Better Fast. Rodale. 2010.|
|↑2, ↑27||Chapped lips just won’t quit. Columbia University.|
|↑3||Ediriweera, E. R. H. S. S., and N. Y. S. Premarathna. “Medicinal and cosmetic uses of bee’s honey–A review.” Ayu 33, no. 2 (2012): 178.|
|↑4||Julie, Gabriel. The Green Beauty Guide: Your Essential Resource to Organic and Natural Skin Care, Hair Care, Makeup, and Fragrances. Health Communications. 2010.|
|↑5||Medicinal and cosmetic uses of Bee’s Honey – A review. NIH.|
|↑6||Orey, Carol. “The Healing Powers of Olive Oil: A Complete Guide To Nature’s Liquid Goldgoogle.” Kensington Books, 2014.|
|↑7||Press, Althea. Home Remedies Rx: DIY Prescriptions When You Need Them Most. Callisto Media Inc.2015.|
|↑8||Abdel-Hameed, El-Sayed S., Salih A. Bazaid and Abdel Nasser A. Sabra. “Total phenolic, in vitro antioxidant activity and safety assessment (Acute, sub-chronic and chronic toxicity) of industrial Taif rose water by-product in mice”. Scholars Research Library. Der Pharmacia Lettre. 2015. 7 (2):251-259|
|↑9||Gehring, Abigail R. Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. 2008.|
|↑10||Rose, Jeanne. Herbal Body Book: The Herbal Way to Natural Beauty and Health for Men and Women. Frog Books. 1999.|
|↑11||Asemave, Kaana, and Tabitha Amarkasev Asemave. “African Shea Butter as a Staple and Renewable Bioproduct.” International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR) 4(12):5-611 · January 2015.|
|↑12||Dennie, MaKeish N. “Medical Benefits of the Shea Nut Tree.” Biology Student Research, Tennesse State University. 2012.|
|↑13||Nahm, Hee Seung. “Quality characteristics of West African shea butter (Vitellaria paradoxa) and approaches to extend shelf-life.” PhD diss., Rutgers University-Graduate School-New Brunswick, 2011.|
|↑14||21 Reasons To Use Shea Butter. The American Shea Butter Institute.|
|↑15||Goreja, W.G. Shea Butter: The Nourishing Properties of Africa’s Best-Kept Natural Beauty Secret. TNC International Inc. 2004|
|↑16, ↑18||Tourles, Stephanie L. Hands-On Healing Remedies: 150 Recipes for Herbal Balms, Salves, Oils, Liniments & Other Topical Therapies. Storey Publishing. 2012.|
|↑17||McGrath, Simone. “Coconut Oil for Health and Beauty: Uses, Benefits, and Recipes for Weight Loss, Allergies, and Healthy Skin and Hair.” Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2014.|
|↑19||Datta, Hema Sharma, Shankar Kumar Mitra, and Bhushan Patwardhan. “Wound healing activity of topical application forms based on ayurveda.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011 (2011).|
|↑20||Chaturvedi, Vaidya Suresh. Beauty & Health Through Ayurveda. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd, 2007.|
|↑23||Leklem JE. Vitamin B6. In: Machlin L, ed. Handbook of Vitamins. New York: Marcel Decker Inc; 1991:341-378.|
|↑24||Iron Deficiency. DermNet New Zealand Trust.|
|↑25||B vitamins and folic acid. NHS.|
|↑26||Foods high in iron. Healthdirect.|
|↑28||Chapped lips. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑29||Goswami, Priyanka Kantivan, Mayuri Samant, and Rashmi Srivastava. “Natural sunscreen agents: A review.” SAJP 2 (2013): 458-463.|
|↑30||London, Davina. Skin Cures from Your Kitchen Cupboard. Dorrance Publishing. 2014.|