Got Chapped Lips? Do This
This week in Ann Arbor temperatures have hovered around zero outdoors, so we’ve cranked the heat inside. The result of this dry-air assault: flaking, cracking, super-thirsty lips. Slathering on balm feels good (so does licking your lips, but DON'T DO THAT because that will only make things worse). To truly improve chapped lips, you have to add this step:
Scrub. That may sound painful if your lips are on the raw and sore side, but a gentle sloughing won’t hurt (promise). It's also the only way to remove the dead-skin-cell layer (a.k.a. flakes) that build up on dry skin and inhibit the proper penetration of your treatment ointment. Once you erase that layer, your balm can finally sink in, soothe and repair dehydrated skin.
You have several exfoliation options. Just use a damp, warm washcloth, working in small circular motions around your mouth. I’ve also seen some makeup artists use a clean toothbrush. Or (way more fun), try a sugar scrub that's gentle enough for lip skin, such as Sarah Happ The Lip Scrub in Sparkling Pink Grapefruit, which smells (and tastes) like a Jolly Rancher.
Once you’re done scrubbing, gently rinse your lips with warm water and immediately apply a thick balm. I love Smith's Minted Rose Lip Balm, which I wrote about here. For best results, do this twice a day (morning and evening) until your lips (or the weather) improve. Then you can dial it down to just once a day or as needed.