At Orlando Cosmetic Surgery, we find patients and friends who think that they simply must endure chapped lips this time of year. Likewise, we find friends who are so busy with their new 2016 schedule, they do not have time to deal with the inconvenience of giving special attention to this delicate part of their face.
Last but not least, we have discovered some friends who suffer chapped, dry peeling lips every winter, but their lip balm does not help.
Lip Care and the Law
Ironically, just as we were planning this blog for tips to help chapped lips, we noticed recent news about a class action law suit against a major lip balm company. The accused company allegedly left their clients’ lips chapped, cracked, bleeding and broken out.
With their lawsuits pending, we do not intend to go into legal details, but the issue does illustrate that women must be careful about their lip products.
So today we want to educate our friends and clients about ingredients in lip products, winter lip care and chapped lips.
After all, Valentine’s Day is only a few weeks away, and we want your lips to look and feel their best.
What Can Go Wrong With Your Balm
Sometimes, in our effort to counteract the drying out of winter lips, we apply and re-apply the wrong product.
Like many skin products, what you choose as your balm can either help or hurt your dry, chapped lip problem. Sadly, there is no one-size-fits-all in the huge array of products available. The Orlando Cosmetic Surgery advice is
for you to read the label of your lip balm, watch for the ingredients below, and know your own sensitivities.
1. Some lip products contain salicylic acid, exfoliants, menthol and camphor. These ingredients could be irritants, depending on your level of sensitivity.
2. Sweet or floral fragrances and lovely artificial colors may also be problematic to people with sensitivities or allergies.
3. Beware of “hydrators like lanolin and beeswax, which can trigger an allergic reaction in some people. A few safer hydrating ingredients to look for: petrolatum, glycerin and dimethicone,” says Dr. Doris Day in a recent Oprah interview.
4. She also waves a red flag at some lipsticks. “If your daily look involves lipstick, put the balm on over your go-to shade to prevent excessive drying due to ingredients in the formula.”
She adds a point we all know and dislike, “long-wear varieties can be particularly problematic.” Other experts suggest putting on the balm before the lipstick.
Likewise, experts have said, “Certain habits and products can take lips from merely chapped to parched to cracked—or cause some women to have allergic or irritant dermatitis, which may look like chapped lips but won’t be cleared up by lip balm alone.”
So, when your case of chapped lips looks extreme, do not hesitate to go to your doctor for a proper diagnosis and prescription.
Prepare for Lip Care
It is true that this time a year brings with it many forces that can chap and dry the thin skin of your lips. Did you know the skin of your lips is only three to five cellular layers deep?
Whereas, normal facial skin might be as many as 16 cellular layers deep?
It is also interesting that the skin of your lips is so much thinner than facial skin that we can actually see underlying blood vessels, hence the lovely, legendary red hue of lips. Much romantic literature has resulted from this thin-skinned phenomenon.
This thin skin also explains why it is unwise to use your regular skin products on the specialized skin of your lips. Doris Day, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York reminds us to allow our skin care products to sink into our facial skin before going to sleep at night. Why? To prevent products that might harm lips from getting on the pillow case!
She states, “As you move around throughout the night, ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide (both of which you find in acne products) or retinoids (found in both acne fighters and anti-wrinkle products) can end up on your lips and lead to irritation.”
During winter, we must cope with cooler temperatures, drying indoor heat, winter sunshine and aging. Undoubtedly, you know your lips are unique, and that the skin of your lips is different from the rest of the skin of your face. Likewise, your lips have no sweat glands to help keep them moisturized against winter conditions. “Since sweat glands also help keep the skin moisturized, that means lips tend to dry out faster than other parts of the body.”
Your Lip Care Rituals and Habits
1. Winter Sun Protection: Use an especially made-for-lips-sunscreen on your lips. This is our number One Step in preparing your lips to be particularly pretty for Valentines Day, and all the days thereafter.
“To protect from sun damage, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher.” The harmful rays of the sun can prematurely age lips, and cause them to look thinner as well as drier.
In addition to sunlight, thinning lips is part of the aging process because you produce less of the critical protein, collagen. It is collagen that gives your lips plumpness. The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends avoiding “parabens and fragrance, which can be irritating.” And, especially if you know you have a tendency for chapped lips, they agree with our above comment about your balm; you need to stay away from camphor and menthol, “because super-aromatic ingredients that can dry your lips.”
They advise us to “look for ingredients that help lips hold moisture. These include glycerin, mineral oil, aloe, lactic acid, and sorbitol,” when you shop for a lip balm. Of course, we re-iterate, you will avoid anything to which you have an allergy.
2. A Toothy Problem: Did you know that your toothpaste might be chapping and irritating your lips? Sejal Shah, MD, board-certified dermatologist in New York, attributes this to “preservatives, flavoring, coloring and other ingredients.” So, of course, brush your teeth, but keep the excess off your lips or change to a natural toothpaste.
3. No Licking: The winter lip-licking habit is hard for some people to break. Mayo Clinic tells us, “Avoid licking your lips. Saliva evaporates quickly, leaving lips drier than before you licked them. If you tend to lick your lips, avoid flavored lip balm — which may tempt you to lick your lips even more.”
4. Happy Hydration: In the high heat of summer, we have no problem remembering to drink water, but the winter time demands good hydration too. To avoid chapped lips, Mayo clinic recommends drinking plenty of fluids, as well as moistening the air of your home environment with a humidifier.
5. Don’t Be a Mouth-Breather: Especially in cooler temperature, a habit as simple as breathing through your nose will actually help you to avoid chapped lips.
Merely breathing through your mouth can make your lips to dry out. So remember that trick on your winter ski trip! It also helps to protect your lips with a scarf in cold temperatures.
6. Exfoliate with Care: We have previously recommended exfoliating the lips with a soft toothbrush or a washcloth. At any rate exfoliation of the lip area should be done very gently. One natural choice is to use a dab of sugar and honey, but remember you should only rub gently, using tiny circles of motion.
At Orlando Cosmetic Surgery, we know you will pay extra attention to our six lip-saving tips above because Valentines Day is only a few weeks away, and we want you to be ready for those sweet Valentine kisses.