This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
It’s no secret that many conventional chap sticks can become addicting. When your lips are so chapped and uncomfortable that it hurts to even smile, you would do just about anything to relieve them — even apply chemicals to one of the most vulnerable areas of your body.
But these chemicals actually cause your lips to become even drier. Your lips only have three to five layers of skin protection — very few compared to your face, which has up to 16 layers. With only three layers of defense, there is less protection from the dangerous chemicals that could be in your lip-moisturizing product. Additionally, fewer layers of skin means it is difficult for your lips to retain much moisture in the first place, making you more susceptible to chapped lips when exposed to even the slightest environmental or physiological change.
So what should you do?
Avoid the chemicals! Many popular lip-moisturizing products contain ingredients that only exacerbate the problem, including an array of parabens, synthetic coloring and artificial flavors and ingredients such as oxybenzene, camphor, phenol and menthol, a cooling agent known to irritate sensitive skin.
Other potential lip-irritating culprits include your lipstick or even your toothpaste. For example, if your lipstick contains propyl gallate or phenyl salicylate (salol), or if your toothpaste contains guaiazulene, your lips may actually be having an allergic reaction to these ingredients, causing them to become irritated, dry and chapped.
Additionally, many of these chemicals stand in the way of your skin’s natural healing processes. The bottom layer of skin in the lips produces new skin cells more rapidly than most other regions, but this production becomes even more rapid when top layers send out signals of drying dangers. Applying unnatural forms of moisture interferes with the 9-11-call for new skin cells, causing your lips to stay dry and cracked indefinitely.
What most people don’t realize is that chapped lips aren’t just a seasonal annoyance, they are a cry for help. Applying a chemical-laden lip balm does nothing more than temporarily mask the problem. But treating your chapped lips in a way that is all natural can relieve irritation and prevent them from becoming chapped.
Here are seven all natural ways you can prevent and heal chapped lips:
#1: Brown Sugar + Honey + Olive Oil
Mix brown sugar, honey and olive oil in a small bowl. Then, gently scrub lips with mixture and rinse. You can find a great tutorial here. For an added boost of protection, rub a little extra virgin olive oil on your lips after rinsing the scrub.
#2: Buy a Fresh Aloe Plant
The sap of aloe contains over 200 biologically active compounds that have been known to treat hundreds of health problems. To help heal chapped lips, simply apply some fresh aloe sap to your lips first thing in the morning. If your lips are dry and flaky when you wake up, re-apply the lip scrub mentioned above before applying the fresh aloe.
#3: Stay Hydrated
As I stated earlier, chapped lips are your body’s cry for help. When you feel chapped lips coming on, your first action should be to up your water intake. I find it helps tremendously to have a few easy-to-carry water bottles in your arsenal. Try to keep a couple of empty bottles at work, a couple at home and even a couple in your car (for those times you forget one). Do your best to have water around 24/7 — when water is at your disposal, you would be shocked at how much more you consume in a day.
#4: Source Lip Moisturizers From Weird Places
Next time your lips are in need of moisture, reach for coconut oil, olive oil or even your own body oil, suggests dermatologist Joseph Bark, M.D., of Lexington, Kentucky. With a clean finger, simply rub the side of your nose, and then rub your lips with your finger. The natural oils on the side of your nose will lubricate the lips and protect them from further damage, says Dr. Bark.
#5: Organic Lip Balm Before Bed
Invest in a high-quality organic lip balm and keep it on your nightstand. Most people sleep with their mouths slightly open, causing dry air to be passed between the lips for six to eight hours every night. Applying a high-quality organic balm right before bed can help protect your lips from drying out while you sleep. I personally love the EOS line. All EOS lip balms are paraben-free, petrolatum-free, phthalate-free and made with impressively moisturizing ingredients such as vitamin E and shea butter.
#6: Don’t Lick Your Lips
Saliva is 99.5% water, but the other 0.5% is anything but hydrating. Your saliva is designed to assist in the initial breakdown of foods and protect your teeth from bacterial decay, so you can imagine the enzymes in your saliva are extremely active. And in the case of chapped lips, that enzyme activity does not work in your favor. Saliva also evaporates quickly, leaving your lips feeling even more irritated and chapped.
#7: Get a Humidifier
Sleeping with a humidifier has been known to treat and prevent chapped lips. Be sure to have one on hand during the winter months.