Your Guide to Kissable Lips
Let’s give a shout-out to the MVP of your face, the only part that retains colour all year round: your lips. But what happens when they’re drier than the Atacama Desert? You don’t really want to find out, so men and women, listen up!
Lips. For such an integral part of our face, they don’t really get all that much attention. Only two situations can force me to think about them; one, where you’re kissing someone, or two, when they’re so chapped that it hurts even to smile. Now, it’s safe to say that most people out there are in the same boat as me and don’t really think about their lips all that much. But lips are sensitive and deserve to be treated to some TLC, especially when winter is coming.
Don’t reach the point of no return with your lips, where *literal* dry flakes are dropping off. Fixing your bleeding, chapped lips is a long process, and nobody wants to be applying nipple balm (yes, it exists!) to remedy an easily preventable situation. So how do you get soft and kissable lips? The answer to dry, parched lips lies in locking in moisture. We tell you more below.
Nailing Down A Routine
Your lips are delicate, and the winter air isn’t the most forgiving. Lack of humidity in the winter air ends up robbing any exposed part of your body of its natural moisture, and your lips are naturally the most exposed. Getting a routine in place for your lips (and it can be as simple as just putting on some petroleum jelly) can very well determine who you’ll be kissing this winter.
Now, I’m not advocating that you go out there and buy a scrub and sleeping mask just for your lips. But a basic investment is much better than doing nothing at all, and a lip balm is essential. A good lip balm will moisturise your lips and protect them from the rough world outside. But there are times when the bare minimum just won’t do and that’s where you need to get extra fancy. Having a fool-proof scrubbing, moisturising and layering routine might just be the thing that saves your lips this winter.
Shopping for lip care can be intimidating, especially when you’re bombarded with tons of lip care products as soon as you start searching. For men especially, finding the right product can be confusing when they have no idea what to look for. As a general rule, ingredients that are hard to pronounce shouldn’t be in your new lip balm, like Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). This preservative is an endocrine disruptor and has been linked to cancer and respiratory irritation.
Finding out what’s in your lip and skin products is crucial to avoid allergies, irritation and outbreaks (think mouth ulcers and acne). Specific ingredients like lanolin and beeswax, though great for hydrating lips, do cause allergies to flare up in some people. So be aware before spending heavy bucks on a product that makes your lips swell. Added fragrances can contain alcohol (drying for your lips) and other ingredients that can cause lip pigmentation.
Related Story: 5 Reasons Why You Should Have Chia Seed Oil
Scrub the Flakes Away
A lip scrub is your go-to when your flaky lips start getting the better of you. Using a good-quality lip scrub (whether it’s DIY or store-bought) can take off the dead skin and hydrate your pout.
DIY solutions are lifesavers no matter where you may be, and there are some amazing DIYs out there for lip products. A particularly popular DIY lip scrub online is easy to whip up in no time.
- White and Brown Sugar
- Coconut Oil
- (Optional) Rosehip oil, Jojoba oil or Avocado oil
How to Make the Lip Scrub:
- Combine all of the ingredients and store in the fridge until ready to use
- This is a one-time use product, so prepare accordingly
While scrubbing can be a great way to remove dead skin cells and improve cell turnover, it’s best that you don’t overdo it. To soothe chapped lips, first, moisturise liberally and then, trust your lip scrub to get the job done.
Moisturisation 2.0 for Your Lips
Chapped and cracked lips can happen at any time, and you wouldn’t be the first person to be somewhere without lip balm on you. I’ve been stranded in the middle of winter in a remote, little-known village with nothing on me except what could be found in our traditional desi kitchen. The solution? Turns out some ghee or coconut oil is the perfect solution for extremely dry lips. Other ingredients that help are:
- Honey: You might not know this, but honey is a natural humectant (it locks in moisture). It also exfoliates the lips and keeps them hydrated.
- Castor oil: This oil can penetrate better than most other oils and is extremely moisturising. It’s recommended by dermatologists to soothe chapped lips.
- Shea butter and cocoa butter: These natural fats heal broken skin and are ideal to ensure that your lips hold on to moisture.
Using coconut oil, castor oil, sweet almond oil, or shea butter is ideal when you need something immediately and have nothing around . A sleeping mask should only be used for dire situations where nothing else really works. A sleeping lip mask is a leave-on mask that helps rehydrate your lips while providing a boost of antioxidants. It has a special intensive formulation with ingredients like shea butter, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and coconut oil, that targets dry and chapped lips.
Related story: A Men's Skincare Routine That You Can Actually Follow
Protect and Seal
After all you’ve done to moisturise your lips, it would be a shame to let the winter air rob your lips of their plumpness. Not only the dry winter air, but even the sun’s UV rays can damage your lips, so you have to protect them. Some ingredients that help your lips retain their moisture and protect from external elements are:
- Petroleum jelly, and mineral oil: Petroleum jelly provides a protective barrier between your lips and the harsh winter air, and traps moisture where it should be—on your lips.
- Vitamin E (tocopherol): With humectant properties, it helps lock in hydration and make your lips look plumper in no time.
- Lanolin: A by-product wax derived from woolly animals like sheep, lanolin helps seal moisture within the skin.
- SPF (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide): Just like any other exposed part of your body, your lips need SPF too! Too much sun can also lead to chapped lips, whereas using products with zinc oxide and titanium oxide can prevent damage.
Remember the sun and cold air are not the only culprits. Your dry and cracked lips might not also be because of a lack of moisturisation or protection. Everyday skincare products can contribute to irritated lips, and the only solution here is to protect them before you do your skincare. Apply petroleum jelly or a product that creates a protective barrier on your lips, especially when using skincare with strong actives or acids. If your medication (like Isotretinoin) is leading to extreme dryness on your lips, continual moisturisation (reapplying lip balm throughout the day) followed by a protective layer helps.
Layer products like a lip balm with hyaluronic acid (with a mild formulation), a lip mask with skin-strengthening peptide to soothe, and petroleum jelly with SPF lip to protect your pout.
Related story: The Definitive Guide To Skincare Acids
The Kissable Lips You Deserve
Drinking water and keeping yourself hydrated go a long way to maintain your lush lips, but don’t forget to follow up with lip care too. Slathering on a lip balm isn’t hurting anyone, especially not your lips. The best time to apply your lip care saviours? Either when you’ve just stepped out of the shower, or are going to bed, or whenever your lips need them!
But what if your lips remain dry and chapped despite all that you’re doing to save them? Chronically dry lips can sometimes happen because something is wrong internally, like low levels of vitamin B12 or other essential vitamins and minerals.
A kiss is a terrible thing to waste, and you would hate for your dry, chapped lips to be the cause of a terrible kiss. Whether you’re flashing your pearly whites at someone or on a first date, you want your lips to look moisturised and, dare I even say, seductive. Give your lips the limelight they deserve this winter by slathering on moisturising products without skimping out!