If your lips feel like they’re in a permanent state of Sunday morning hangover right now, you’re not alone. As soon as the cold weather hits, our lips get their chap on, and can be left sore, dehydrated and distinctly un-sexy.
But what is it about the Ice Age-style temperatures that cause our lips to go into flake mode, and what can we do about it?
“During the cold season, our lips need even more hydration than normal because of their thin epidermis,” says Dr Sara Sibilla, head of research and development at Gold Collagen. “Along with the fact they don’t have sebaceous glands (which produce sebum, skin’s natural moisturiser) like the rest of our skin, lips have a weak barrier to cold air and dehydrating elements, such as central heating.”
Not only do our lips lack the biological equipment to cope with the cold, but our blood doesn’t help either. “The lips have a small number of blood vessels, and while blood flows to the vital areas during exposure to the cold, our extremities are less well-supplied,” says Camille Poggi, Product Trainer at Bioderma. “It’s why our noses and ears often suffer in cold temperatures. This makes the skin on our lips thicken, and eventually crack. These epidermal cracks can go deep and be very painful.”
But we promise your lips don’t have to feel Sahara-levels of dry forever. This is what we can do to banish the chap…
1. Know your ingredients
The first step in banishing lip-crispiness? A good old-fashioned dose of moisture. Whether it’s in the form of a conditioner, balm or oil, there are key ingredients you need to look out for, according to Dr Sibilla. “For a product to be effective in protecting and nourishing lips, look for healing and moisturising ingredients such as almond, shea butter and coconut oil, as well as vitamin E (essential for daily protection) and beeswax, an anti-inflammatory which creates a barrier to lock in that much-needed moisture.” But there are also ingredients to avoid, too. “The chemicals used in beauty products such as face cleansers, creams and lipsticks can cause dryness and chapping,” says Pamela Kennedy of Seduire London Beauty Clinic. “Watch out for salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide around the mouth.”
Try: Gold Collagen Anti-Ageing Lip Volumiser (£19.99, gold-collagen.com), Jo Malone Vitamin E Lip itioner (£23, jomalone.co.uk), Bioderma Atoderm Lip Balm (£5.10, boots.com).
2. Mask up
Masks were big news for the beauty market last year (just ask Superdrug who saw sales double as they struggled to meet demand), largely thanks to the popularity of K-beauty trends. Their jelly lip mask caused an Insta-storm when Emma Stone’s make-up artist posted a photo of the actress in KNC Beauty’s Collagen-Infused Lip Mask. And they’re big beauty news for a reason, with prolonged application allowing the moisturising ingredients to work their way into the delicate skin. Look out for overnight lip masks which basically allow you to sleep your way to a pillow-soft pout.
Try it: Clinique Pout Restoring Night Mask (£16, clinique.co.uk), Rodial Dragon’s Blood Lip Mask (£6, rodial.co.uk), Nugg Intense Lip Boosting Mask (£10, beautybay.com).
3. Get your exfoliation on
Just as exfoliation is key for removing dead skin cells from the rest of your body, gently applying a lip scrub helps to banish flaky skin for a smoother, healthier look. “Very gently exfoliate the lips in soft, circular motions to remove excess dead skin, and follow with a balm – but be very careful not to rub lips too hard,” says Kennedy. “You can make a homemade lip scrub with natural products from the kitchen, such as sugar, salt, honey and coconut oil with warm water, but there are plenty of ready-made products, too.”
Try it: Fresh Sugar Lip Polish (£19.50, johnlewis.com), By Terry Baume de Rose Lip Scrub (£26, harrods.com), Frank Body Lip Scrub & Balm Duo (£12.95, frankbody.com)
4. Don’t forget SPF
You’ll have to take a leap of faith and trust us that, despite the view from your office window right now, the sun is still shining. And even though its delicious warm rays have wandered off behind the clouds, they can still deliver a dose of dryness to our lips. Plus, combined with all the factors mentioned above, it’s a recipe for cornflake-looking lips. Check the packaging to be sure that at least one of the lip moisturisers you’re using is SPF-ready.
Try it: Bobbi Brown Lip Balm SPF 15 (£17, houseoffraser.co.uk), Fresh Sugar Petal Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15 (£19.50, fresh.com), Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick SPF 15 (£20, net-a-porter.com).
5. Be lipstick savvy
There’s no doubt that layering products onto our dry lips can make the situation worse – particularly if we’re reapplying matte lipstick throughout the day. Yes, try your best to stay clear of lipsticks, tints, liners and glosses, but we like to keep it real here at GLAMOUR, and we know that sometimes it’s impossible to go without a sweep of your favourite lippy. Luckily, many brands have recognised our need for lipsticks that don’t dry out our skin, so look for product names that include ‘moisturising’, ‘protecting’ or ‘hydrating’, rather than ‘mattifying’ or ‘long-lasting’. Or, better yet, opt for lip balms or treatments that offer a hint of colour.
Try it: Dior Lip Glow Hydrating Balm (£25, dior.com), Burt’s Bees Satin Lipstick (£9.99, feelunique.com), Benefit Hydrating Tinted Lip Balm (£15.50, benefitcosmetics.com).
6. Look to lifestyle
Forgive us the cliché, but we all know that good skin starts from within, and our lips are no exception. “Just as drinking more water can help boost our skin’s hydration levels, our lips can benefit from added H20,” says Kennedy. “Drink more water if you feel your lips beginning to crack.” Dr Sibilla backs this up: “A balanced diet, no smoking, choosing water over harsh hot drinks, and avoiding biting or licking our lips all help,” she says.
The GLAMOUR Beauty Festival is coming to London's Saatchi Gallery from 9th-11th March. For three days, the beauty pages of GLAMOUR will spring to life, with treatments, celebs and a free goodie bag worth over £180! Get your tickets on