Our lips go through a lot in a day.
We breathe through them, we lick them, we stretch and pout with them whilst we eat, talk and (if we’re lucky!), kiss. And yet they’re one of our most sensitive and aesthetically important features, so when they become dried out, chapped and uncomfortable, they make us look and feel less than fabulous.
So I thought I’d share my 5 quick and easy hacks that really move the needle when it comes to getting your lips into kissable condition this winter!
How Can I Nourish My Lips Correctly?
Lips have a thin stratum corneum that holds onto water less effectively than in other parts of our body. They also lack sebaceous glands, which means they’re even more susceptible to dehydration when exposed to the winter elements.
So the best way to support this delicate barrier is to use ingredients that reduce water evaporating from their surface, or what we call Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL). Great ingredients to look for include petroleum (it’s in Vaseline), lanolin and shea butter. These can be combined with humectants - like glycerin or hyaluronic acid - but avoid using humectants alone, as these won’t work in cold low-humidity conditions.
What About Protecting My Lips When I Ski?
It’s very important to include UV protection at altitude as lips are inherently melanin-free, so this, coupled with the thin stratum corneum mean they are highly susceptible to UV damage and ultimately premature ageing. I think the quality of lip balms with spf are getting better - it’s a challenge to create something that offers high protection, is cosmetically elegant but is also hydrating and non-irritating. Paulas Choice and Elta MD are both doing a good job in this space.
Lip Balm Addiction
This is such a common complaint - there’s a feeling of initial relief on applying product, but over time they set up a cycle of lip balm addiction, as irritation develops. When you probe the INCI list of so many lip balms, they’re chock-full of ingredients that serve no purpose beyond the sensorial, and are potentially hazardous, especially when applied to dried-out lips, where ingredients penetrate even further. The top 3 things to try eliminating if you feel this applies to you are 1)fragrance, 2)flavourings and 3)salicylic acid. Also, it’s worth being conscious of the potential for pigments in lipstick to irritate, an important consideration if product use is making matters deteriorate rapidly.
Humidity and Your Lips
Waking up with dry lips is very common in winter. One of the big contributing factors is that many of us sleep in warm rooms with dry air. An easy fix that can really help bolster lip hydration is to use a humidifer. And if you can do this at work, even better. This will really reduce the TEWL from your lips. I like the Stadler Form Humidifers (they actually look quite chic too). Aim for arounf 45-55%. This really helps if you’re a mouth breather!
Wrap Up Warm
A final consideration is to think about is using clothing as an added layer of protection. Much like with sun protection, clothing provides a really valuable and safe way to supplement your spf in extreme conditions + at altitude. So wrap that cashmere scarf around a couple of times and cosset your lips whilst keeping them safe.