How to Get Rid of Chapped Lips Like a Pro

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Ever wondered why your lips get all dry, feel parched, and start cracking? When the skin on your lips loses moisture and starts to split, that's what's known as chapped lips. While the occasional dry spell is normal, if it sticks around, it might be time for you to dig deeper. By understanding the root causes and recognizing the symptoms of chapped lips, you can take steps to improve your lip health and ease discomfort.

Meet Our Expert

Below, we've gathered expert insights and practical advice to help you understand and effectively address chapped lips.

Common Causes of Chapped Lips

According to our experts, common causes of chapped lips include dehydration, exposure to cold or windy weather, licking your lips excessively, allergic reactions, sun exposure without protection, and certain medical conditions like vitamin deficiencies or allergic reactions. Plus, if you're a mouth breather, that can dry out your lips, too, especially while you're sleeping. "The skin of the lips is notably fragile and thin, making it susceptible to dehydration,” says Monti. “Maintaining adequate hydration levels through daily water intake is crucial to preserving the moisture barrier of your lips.”

Chapped lips can have a variety of symptoms, our experts say. They typically feel dry and rough, and sometimes flake or peel. In more severe cases, chapped lips may develop cracks leading to discomfort and soreness.  If your lips are super red, they keep cracking, or they won't stop bleeding — even with regular lip care — Dr. Lal says it might be something serious like cheilitis, a precursor to skin cancer stemming from excessive sun exposure. Or it could be angular cheilitis, which affects the mouth corners, or an allergic reaction. An examination by a dermatologist is important so you can get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Lips that aren't chapped can also get flaky and might even sting when exposed to irritants or acids.

Factors that Contribute to Chapped Lips

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1. Dehydration

“It's all about hydration,” says Dr. Lamm. “Lifestyle choices to avoid include smoking and consuming excessive caffeine or alcohol. These activities can dehydrate your body and lips. Insufficient water intake is another common factor that can lead to dehydration, manifesting as chapped lips. The daily fluid intake for men and women should be around 120 and 90 ounces, respectively.” 

2. Exposure to Cold, Dry Air

Extreme weather conditions like cold, windy, and dry climates can strip moisture from your lips, making them more susceptible to chapping, Dr. Lamm says. "Indoor heating systems used in winter can exacerbate the issue by further depleting indoor air moisture," she explains. "Using a humidifier and regularly applying lip balm are effective strategies to combat these drying effects and protect your lips from chapping."

3. Regularly Wearing Matte Lipstick

Regularly wearing matte lipsticks may also contribute to chapped lips, according to Monti. She explains, "Matte and long-wear lipsticks and glosses can have a drying effect on the lips due to ingredients, like specific waxes and pigments found in their matte texture. Additionally, matte lipsticks tend to have a more long-lasting formula, which can further exacerbate dryness over time.”

4. Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies often result in nasal congestion. That can lead to mouth breathing, which in turn can dry out the lips with constant airflow. If you find yourself licking your lips frequently to soothe irritation during this season, remember that saliva evaporates quickly, removing natural oils and leaving them drier.

How to Get Rid of Chapped Lips

1. Regularly Exfoliate

Exfoliating the lips regularly can help to remove dead skin cells and promote new cell growth. Use a gentle lip scrub or a soft toothbrush to stroke the lips in circular motions.

2. Apply Balm

After exfoliating, apply a nourishing lip balm or moisturizer that contains ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, or beeswax. This helps to lock in moisture and protects the lips from further dryness.

3. Treat Them With Care

It is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This helps to moisturize the lips from within. It is also advisable to avoid licking the lips, as this can further dry them out. Plus, protect the lips from harsh weather conditions by wearing a scarf or using a lip balm with SPF when exposed to the sun.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do chapped lips take to heal?

Chapped lips usually take about one to two weeks to heal, but the exact time can vary depending on the severity of the chapping and how well you take care of your lips. It's important to keep your lips moisturized and avoid licking or picking at them to promote faster healing.

Are there any natural remedies or home treatments for chapped lips?

Our experts recommend the use of natural moisturizers such as coconut oil and aloe vera to effectively soothe chapped lips. Additionally, petrolatum masks provide a simple and affordable method for keeping lips soft and nourished. For gentle exfoliation, Monti suggests using a damp washcloth to alleviate dry skin on the lips.

How frequently should I apply lip balm to prevent chapping?

Dr. Lamm emphasizes the importance of applying a nourishing lip balm consistently throughout the day — especially before venturing out into harsh weather conditions — to shield your lips. “During allergy season, frequent use of tissues may unintentionally irritate the area around your nose and lips,” she explains. “To combat this, apply lip balm after washing your hands thoroughly to keep your lips soothed and moisturized.” At night, choose a richer, hydrating treatment to deeply nourish and repair your lips while you rest, ensuring they remain soft and healthy.

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