image via fashiondivadesign.com
Growing up in Florida, a lot of my friends’ moms battled skin cancer. So when it was our turn for swim lessons at the YMCA, the importance of sunscreen, especially on your lips (and behind the ears), was already drilled into our minds.
Until recently, sunscreen was measured by its SPF rating. When I was growing up, we all bought sunscreen based on the notion that the higher the SPF, the better protection you’ll receive. This misconception has changed over the past few decades. We now know SPF indicates protection against UVB rays only.
In July 2012, the FDA changed the requirements for sunscreen ratings, which made manufacturers include UVA ratings. So, the reason you see ‘broad spectrum’ before an SPF rating is due to these new regulations. Broad spectrum refers to its UVA protection while the SPF still refers to the UVB protection. And the theory stands that anything below SPF 15 isn’t providing much protection while sunscreen with an SPF higher than 37 isn’t providing any more protection. (Try telling that to my dad, who slathered us with SPF 80). Even your computer and TV screens emit UV rays, which is why it’s so important to have a moisturizer with SPF. But what about your lips?
Sunburn and sun damage is one cause for dry, cracked lips. And in the middle of winter when conditions are optimal for chapping and peeling, we’ve all gotten that awful ski mask sunburn. Red nose and everything. Applying Vaseline will help trap in moisture more than lip balm. There is even some science behind the idea of ‘lip balm addiction.’
A few other reasons you may be suffering from severe cracking is due to dehydration. Licking your lips will make this even worse because when the saliva is gone, your lips will be drier than before. Because lips don’t contain oil glands, you’ll want to keep you and your lips hydrated by drinking lots of water. You can even slice some cucumbers and place them on your lips. The cooling tingle will help with that burning sensation while the water from the cucumber will help rehydrate your parched lips.
There are a variety of other reasons you may suffer from dry, cracked lips. Especially if it’s not winter. Things as simple as switching toothpastes can help. Check the ingredients for sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). It is used in shampoo, toothpastes, soaps... in fact it’s probably in most of your hygiene products. SLS is a detergent that breaks down surface tension and separates molecules in order to get a squeakier clean. It’s also the reason your hygiene products lather. It is known to cause irritation among people with sensitivity.
Maybe your allergies are acting up or you're taking a medication that causes dry mouth and chapped lips. If that’s the case... I’m not a doctor.
A quick at home remedy for chapped lips is a raw honey mask. Coat your lips with the raw honey and leave on for at least 10 minutes. If you have excessive chapping, sleep with the honey mask on. Raw honey is great for a variety of reasons. It’s a natural antiseptic and contains antioxidants which fight free radicals and keep us young and beautiful. Researchers also say, switch to honey for lower blood sugar. But again, I’m not a doctor.
If you don’t have raw honey in the house, you can use normal honey, although processed honey doesn’t have all the nutritional benefits. If you’re looking to exfoliate and moisturize, add a pinch of brown sugar into your honey and mix it together. Spread across your lips and massage in for 2 minutes or so. Then, wipe it off.
If you’re more focused on prevention, there are some great options you can find online or at your local Sephora. Bite is an all natural lip care company based out of Toronto with some great options for both prevention and treatment. Their BB For Lips comes in several different shades and is infused with Manuka honey, antioxidants and resveratrol. It also contains SPF 15.
I personally love everything Bite makes, but they do have a particularly fantastic Agave Lip Mask, which leaves lips silky smooth. The lip mask contains organic agave nectar, jojoba oil and tons of antioxidants. Just leave the mask on overnight and discover new, luscious lips.
Another great product for prevention is the Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 by Fresh. The stick comes in tons of different colors and is a great alternative to lip balms.
So, no matter what your lips are going through, there’s a way to fight back!