Your lips are covered with the thinnest and most sensitive skin on your body, and this skin does not have oil glands to keep your lips naturally moisturized. It only makes sense that the lips are prone to chapping and cracking throughout the entire year, not just in the cold winter months.
Protecting your lips with a layer of lip balm is one way to lock in moisture and create a buffer against environmental factors. You will want to choose a lip balm with ingredients such as petrolatum and dimethicone, which lock in moisture and seal off cracks and splits in dry lips, respectively. There are a number of ingredients that you should avoid in lip balm because they can cause allergic reactions and dry the lips out even further. You should avoid lip balms containing phenol, menthol and salicylic acid because these ingredients act as an exfoliant and remove precious skin from your lips. In addition, try to choose natural, non-scented and non-flavored lip balm because ingredients commonly found in those lip balms may cause allergic reactions. Common lip allergens include eucalyptus, camphor and mint.
Even though you might not think about it, lips are prone to sunburns because of their delicate skin. The sun's ultraviolet rays easily penetrate non-protected skin, aging it and causing damage, which may lead to skin cancer. A lip balm with an SPF of 15 will block out 93 percent of the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, while a lip balm with an SPF of 30 will block out 97 percent.
In addition to applying the right kind of lip balm, you can take other measures to improve lip health. Even though it seems like a good idea to moisturize them, don't lick your lips. As the saliva dries, it actually takes more moisture from your lips. Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water--dehydration can lead to chapped lips. Use a humidifier in your home to provide additional moisture to your lips and skin during the dry winter months. Also, apply lip balm before going to bed to moisturize while you sleep.
It's never too late to add an extra layer of protection to your lips by choosing a lip balm that actually moisturizes your skin instead of drying it out. Lips are often an afterthought, but applying lip balm takes just a few seconds and helps keeps your lips moisturized and feeling good.