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Winter is coming again… and with it its usual procession of small inconveniences. As colder temperatures approach, many of us find our lips dry, chapped sometimes to the point of splitting.
The problem is not new: for centuries, people are trying to find a way to get rid of it. The use of beeswax, olive oil and other natural ingredients has been reported since the time of Cleopatra -seventh of the name- in the first century BC.
In 2019, human cerumen was even a recommended time as an effective remedy for cracked lips. The first commercial lip balms appeared on the market shortly after…
But what are the causes of this dryness labial? And, concretely, are there lip balms that actually remedy this? The key is to avoid products containing additives that can make the problem worse.
Our lips, supple but strong Our lips are constantly exposed to the elements such as sun, wind, dry air and cold. They must also resist the aggressions due to our daily lifestyle, ranging from contact with food, cosmetics, bites, friction from clothing, kisses, etc.
Thus, despite their soft and fleshy appearance, they must be resistant and solid.
The lips are at the junction between the skin which covers our face and the various biological tissues that line our mouth. As such, they are similar in structure to mucous membranes with an outer layer of protective skin a bit special: that is to say without hair follicles, sweat, salivary or sebaceous glands – which can help moisten biological tissues where they are.
This unique structure means that their ability to retain water is much less than for normal facial skin, hence their particular vulnerability to drying out.
Where do cracks come from?
Many of us have dry lips at certain times of the year. This can occur naturally or be caused by various factors, including:
inflammations, known as cheilitis, potentially due to a medical condition or an infection (herpes labialis, etc.)
medicines that have an impact on the salivary glands, the oral muscles or sensations in the labial region
injuries to the tongue, due to teeth rubbing against the lips or other dental problems
poor oral health, which may be linked to general neglect, eating disorders or bad drinking habits oral hygiene
burns, for example from eating too hot food or getting sunburned (burns can cause swelling of the lips, scars and blisters whose pain takes a long time to subside)
certain illnesses or disorders, such as Sjögren’s syndrome
dehydration, heatstroke, fever or excessive heat
the nasal congestion, which leads to breathing oral infection and may result from an infection (a cold, for example)
a cold weather or wind that runs along the lips and removes the protective moisture
persistent licking, which can create a wet-dry cycle that excessively dries your lips.
Dryness can also cause pain, itching or tingling. If the phenomenon begins to cause serious problems, it may be useful to discuss it with a healthcare professional.
How can I fix it?
It is important to identify why your lips are dry. If it’s just because you’re licking them, you need to change your habits. If it is because of cold, windy or dry weather, certain balms and ointments are sometimes useful to protect them.
It is already necessary to make sure that one is properly hydrated. Drinking adequate amounts of water is basic, as this helps prevent dry skin in general.
Then, non-irritating lip balms with no added flavors can help. They act as a film covering the surface of the lips and thus allow them to retain their moisture.
Generally, these balms use petroleum jelly as a base but this is not mandatory. Mineral oils, refined to eliminate dangerous compounds , can be used to help preserve the barrier function of our lips.
In the race to seduce consumers, cosmetics manufacturers have tested a number of new ingredients in their lip balms. The most popular thus often contain additives which give them a pleasant smell or taste, or which soften the feeling of friction on the lips.
Some of these additional ingredients can be useful. For example, if you are often exposed to the sun, a lip balm containing sunscreen is a great idea. Generally, however, this is not the case.
AvoidOften these added compounds are very effective in bringing an immediate feeling of relief… but they do not contribute to the protection of our lips. Worse, in some cases, they can become irritating or even make the situation worse.
When choosing a lip balm, be careful. Try to avoid products containing the following ingredients:
from aromas (mint, citrus fruits, vanilla, cinnamon, etc.)
shiny glosses, which can intensify the damage caused by the sun’s rays
colours, which can cause irritation and do not contribute to the expected barrier function of the balm
menthol, phenol or salicylic acid, which can actually make your lips even drier
all additional and unnecessary ingredients such as camphor, lanolin, octinoxate, oxybenzone or propyl gallate.
Staying hydrated and applying the simplest balm possible should be a routine part of your daily life to ensure healthy, protected and hydrated lips. And be careful not to bite, pick or lick them excessively…
This article is republished from The Conversation licensed under Creative Commons. Read the original article.