Ah winter… Those of us who love style can immerse ourselves in cashmere sweaters, leather boots and … dry flaky lips? Heck no! You may routinely purchase extra moisturizing products for your face in winter, but don’t forget your mouth. We spoke with a few experts about how to protect that precious pucker.
Dr. Victoria Gross of Richmond Dermatology & Laser Specialists says that while products with pretty tints and fancy scents are appealing, plainer is better. “The less fragrance and color, the more protective it is,” she says.
Gross suggests buying small tubs of 100 percent petroleum jelly and putting them around your office and home during winter so they’re readily available. “If you have dry lips and start licking them it perpetuates the drying,” she says. “By having Vaseline around all the time you can keep reapplying all day long.”
Vaseline is her favorite petroleum jelly, but she says you should look for similar products that are mostly odorless and fragrance-free.
If you just can’t forego color, Gross recommends gloss in lieu of lipsticks and other dark, heavy products that can dry lips.
Daniella Tsamouras, a licensed master aesthetician, member of the Virginia Board for Barbers and Cosmetology and owner of Spa 310, recommends Lip Drink by Jane Iredale ($15), a balm that comes in a colorless version and also is available in two tints for those who love pigment. Ingredients include carrot oil extract and avocado oil extract, plus sun protection with an SPF of 15.
She also recommends PCA Skin Peptide Lip Therapy ($20), a balm that contains BMX complex, safflower seed oil, castor oil, sunflower seed oil and shea butter. “It gives hydration and is corrective,” she says. “It prevents moisture loss.”
If you want to try a local product, McKenzie Payne, owner of Hanover-based lip balm and skincare company Mac’s Smack, suggests her company’s Intense Healing balm ($5). “It has extra ingredients for moisturizing,” she says, “and you can use it all over your body on patches of dry skin.”
Ingredients like candelilla wax, cocoa butter, jojoba oil and beeswax provide hydration, plus a hint of natural peppermint oil gives it a fresh, tingly feel. “If you put it on at night before bed, you will wake up and your lips will be healed,” she says. She also notes the importance of applying a balm before you go out in cold weather, especially for children who have delicate skin.
When your lips are dry, you might want to exfoliate, but Gross says don’t do it. “I always say don’t pick, pull or exfoliate,” she says. “This just gives more opportunities for an infection to sneak in and probably does more harm than good.”
Moisturizing with a bland ointment is the best treatment, she says. And, if your lips get very dry, develop any type of yellowish crust, or just experience anything else scary, don’t hesitate to call your doctor. Sometimes you need a topical antibiotic or mild steroid to heal things quickly.