They’re what help you form your gorgeous smile, convey your thoughts and kiss loved ones good night. Sure, your lips are a small part of your face. But considering how important they are to what you do and say every day, it’s surprising just how common it is for them to take a backseat when it comes to skincare.
The skin on your lips can become dry, scaly and sun-damaged, just like your face. In fact, it’s even more prone to these issues since it is thinner and more sensitive than the skin on most all other parts of your body. Plus, your lips lack oil glands to help keep them hydrated, as well as melanin, which is your natural protection from the sun.
You can rejuvenate your lips and keep them healthy with an easy lip care regime. It only takes a minute to:
If your lips are chronically dry and cracked, start the healing process by applying a dab of petroleum jelly before you go to sleep, which can help deliver and lock in moisture while you snooze. During the day, opt for a hydrating lip cream (usually sold in tubes) with soothing ingredients like cocoa butter, aloe and vitamins A and E; apply as often as you feel is needed. Avoid products that contain irritants, like phenol and camphor, which can actually be drying. And consider passing on flavored balms, too: The fragrance in them may aggravate sensitive lips and the taste may cause you to lick your lips often, which speeds moisture loss.
Consider less-obvious culprits too: Try switching to a natural toothpaste without the potentially irritating chemicals found in whitening and fluoride formulas. If your home is especially dry, consider using a humidifier (when air is arid, it zaps water from any source—including the skin on your lips).
Moisturizers with SPF make it easy to protect your face from harmful UV rays each and every day, and sunscreen-containing lip balms can do the same for your pout. Choose a balm with an SPF of 15 or higher and be sure to reapply throughout the day, especially after eating. Not only will it help save your lips from burns, but the barrier to the elements that it creates will help shield you from wind-related chapping. You may find that it’s worth buying a few balms so you can keep them readily accessible (in your bag, on your desk, etc.)
Tweaking your daily habits can also help keep parched lips at bay: Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth, which can dry lips faster. And stay hydrated with plenty of water and omega-3-rich foods, like salmon and nuts.
Fortunately, caring for your lips doesn’t have to interfere with your beauty regimen—it can even enhance it. Nutrient-rich lipsticks and glosses can do double-duty by adding color while also nourishing your lips. Ingredients like almond oil, argon oil and honey nectar not only hydrate lips, but help your shade of choice go on smoother and last longer; some lipsticks also contain SPF. Use them alone or together with your daily protective balm for added benefit. Wipe your lips with a warm washcloth each morning to gently exfoliate the skin before applying.