a close-up of natural healthy lips

Care for Dry and Chapped Lips

The Taste for Life Staff
This content originally appeared on 

Healthy lips make a beautiful, confident smile. Made up of only three to five skin layers, lip tissue is delicate and susceptible to environmental damage.

Treating Dry Lips

Always resist the urge to lick your lips, no matter how dry they feel. Saliva has acidic properties that can increase dryness and produce inflammation. Instead, use moisturizing, protective lip balms if your lips feel dry or chapped.

Select lip balm products that contain antioxidants and nutrients, like vitamin E, to nourish the lips and beeswax or shea butter to seal in moisture. Coconut oil can help protect against UVA and UVB rays from the sun.

You may be able to prevent lip dryness by drinking plenty of water and incorporating essential fatty acids into your daily diet.

  • Exfoliate

    To keep your lips in top form, gently exfoliate once or twice per week. You can buy lip scrubs or make your own.

    If you don't have time to make a lip scrub, try this lifestyle hack. After brushing your teeth, lightly pass a soft toothbrush over your lips in a circular motion.

    Don’t overdo it though, and follow with lip balm for best results.

    DIY Lip Scrub

    If you want to make your own lip scrub, remember to combine an exfoliating agent with at least one moisturizing ingredient.

    You could use brown sugar as an exfoliant (it's softer than white sugar).

    Potential emollients include:

    • olive oil
    • room-temperature coconut oil
    • honey

    A good scrub should resemble a coarse paste, so try using twice as much sugar as liquids. Mix ingredients in a small glass jar or container until you have the right consistency.

    Here's our recipe for a lip scrub with aloe vera and honey.

  • Lip Balms

    A good lip balm contains moisturizing and healing ingredients, such as:

    • aloe vera
    • olive oil
    • almond oil
    • beeswax
    • calendula
    • cocoa butter
    • coconut oil
    • jojoba oil
    • vitamin E
    • shea butter

    Be sure to reapply lip balm during the day, especially after eating or drinking.

  • Consider Vitamin B

    If, despite diligent lip care, you still develop cracked lips or cracks around the corners of your mouth, you might be deficient in vitamin B2 (riboflavin).

    • Supplementation

      "Try supplementing with vitamin B2, not more than 50 milligrams a day," advises Ann Louise Gittleman, author of The Living Beauty Detox Program.

    • Dietary Sources

      Try incorporating vitamin B2-rich foods into your diet. These include:

      • milk
      • cottage cheese
      • yogurt
      • fish
      • eggs
      • leafy green vegetables
      • spirulina
      • almonds
      • soybeans
      • nutritional yeast
      • avocados
      • peas
  • Try Goldenseal

    Cracked lips can also be soothed through the use of  goldenseal, a popular herb.

Lip Sores

Canker sores are small ulcers in and around the mouth and should not be confused with cold sores. Canker sores are not contagious and can easily be treated with a mouth rinse.

Canker sores are often triggered by stress, though hormonal imbalances, food allergies, and nutritional deficiencies may also be to blame.

Cold sores

Cold sores are caused by an outbreak of the herpes simplex virus. They often appear when the immune system is challenged by a cold or fever, food sensitivities, or stress.

Since they are also triggered by sunlight, be sure to use lip products that contain an SPF (sun protection factor) when outdoors to help prevent their appearance.

Click to See Our Sources

"7 tips for beautiful lips," www.shape.com

Living Beauty by Lisa Petty ($21.95, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2006)

"Why are my lips chapped?" www.WebMD.com