Dry lips are not only uncomfortable, they can also hurt and indicate poor health. We explain how dry lips develop and what you can do about it.
They are one of the most sensitive parts of our skin: the lips. Supple lips not only feel good, they give the face more radiance and indicate stable health. What you can do about it if they suddenly dry out or tear open, you will find out below.
Worth knowing about the sensitive skin of the lips
Hardly any part of the body is as sensitive and delicate as the lips. No wonder they react very sensitively to environmental influences and weather changes. A few cold winter days with cool winds or summer temperatures are enough and they become dry or brittle.
Lip skin is so sensitive because it is three to four times thinner than the rest of our skin. It has neither a horny layer nor hairs or sweat glands. In addition, it has few sebaceous glands – and therefore no protective hydro-lipid film . On the rest of our skin, this film ensures, among other things, that the skin does not dry out and is protected from environmental influences. Lip skin is therefore extremely sensitive. In addition, we cannot protect them particularly well from environmental influences. We can put on a hat and wear gloves, but our mouths remain exposed to all weathers.
The fact that our skin turns a beautiful brown color in summer is due to the protective color pigment melanin. The lips lack that too. So they can not protect themselves from UV rays and suffer quickly when exposed to the sun’s harmful rays . The skin on the lips is so thin that the blood vessels underneath show through – and these are exactly what give it its beautiful red colour.
Causes of dry lips
Precisely because lips are so delicate, a number of factors can contribute to their drying out. You’ve probably already experienced first-hand that the time of year doesn’t matter. These are the main causes of dry lips.
Low fluid balance
The most obvious reason why your lips become chapped and dry is, in most cases, not drinking enough water . Especially if you do a lot of sport or are struggling with diarrhea , you should make sure you drink enough. When you’re dehydrated, the saliva in your mouth thickens. Then he can no longer fully pursue his task of keeping the mouth area moist. The result is dry and chapped lips.
However, factors that we cannot influence are also often to blame for dry lips. The weather in particular – both warm and cold temperatures – can quickly dry out our mouth. A drastic change in conditions, for example when you move from the air-conditioned office to the blazing sun, can rob the lips of moisture. They react sensitively to wind, air conditioning and heating air.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations – some can handle it well, some not so much. But it is our body that suffers the most from prolonged stress. It reacts with old protective functions that would probably have saved the lives of our ancestors. In order to sharpen the senses and gather energy, the body throttles some of the less relevant functions , including salivation . In the event of constant stress, more moisture is withdrawn from the mouth, the lips dry out and, in the worst case, even tear open.
Although you want to do something good for your lips with it, certain care habits can only damage them further. If care products contain fragrances or preservatives , for example, this can irritate the lips. Anyone who often uses care sticks or lip balm may know the problem: you get used to using it regularly. If you stop using the care once, the lips will feel dry and rough. In fact, this is not because lips become “addicted” to care. Instead , you get used to the very smooth and soft feel. In contrast, the normal state of the mouth can quickly feel unusually dry.
Dry lips can also be an indication of a vitamin and nutrient deficiency . For example, you could be missing vitamins B12 and B2, or the trace element iron . Vitamin B2, also called riboflavin, plays a central role in metabolic processes in the cells. The vitamin is mainly found in milk, meat and fish. Anyone who eats a vegetarian or vegan diet is more likely to suffer from a deficiency. The same applies to vitamin B12, which is found almost exclusively in animal foods.
Viral infections, such as herpes, can also cause chapped lips. Fungal infections on the mucous membranes in the mouth also trigger a loss of moisture. Incidentally, lips that are already torn open are more susceptible to pathogens , because they have an easy time with the open wounds.
A dry mouth can also – although this is very rare – be a symptom of a serious illness. If you also suffer from torn corners of your mouth and your lips quickly burst and flake, you should consult a doctor if the symptoms persist.
If your lips are dry, don’t try to constantly wet them with your tongue. This even increases the effect. Also, chewing on your sensitive lips will damage your sensitive lips.
Tips against dry lips
Once you’ve found the culprit, you can usually take action against them fairly quickly. It is important that you lead a healthy lifestyle . Because your body reacts to environmental influences and the food that you feed it.
Drink plenty of water
It sounds obvious and yet it is so important: Always drink enough. You should drink at least 1.5 liters of fluids a day. This really only includes healthy drinks, such as water and unsweetened tea. You can find out everything you need to know about correct drinking behavior here .
A balanced diet
Not only is adequate fluid intake important, but also what you eat through food . To prevent a vitamin deficiency, you should always eat a balanced diet and avoid sugar at the same time.
There is a lot of vitamin B2 in almonds , oatmeal or mushrooms, for example. Incidentally , pregnant women, breastfeeding women and smokers are dependent on an increased intake of riboflavin. Vitamin B12, on the other hand, is more lacking in vegetarians and vegans and you can take it in capsule form.
An iron deficiency is also not at all unlikely and mainly affects women . You can find the trace element mainly in meat, but also in lentils, sesame and pumpkin seeds. While vitamin C can improve the absorption of iron, caffeine inhibits it.
Eating a more balanced diet and drinking more water are not difficult propositions. Unfortunately, stress is rarely avoidable and if you feel constantly overwhelmed, it is usually not that easy to change. For the sake of you and your body, however, it is important that you feel balanced more often than under tension. Certain relaxation rituals , meditation or sport are a good balance to a stressful everyday life. Here you will find helpful tips for more relaxation or for better time management .
Torn corners of the mouth
Sometimes cracked corners of the mouth go hand in hand with dry lips. These are often a sign that you are actually lacking in some important vitamins . In particular, deficiencies in vitamins B12 and riboflavin trigger cracked corners of the mouth. But you could also be missing zinc . The trace element is involved in the division of cells . So if you don’t get enough zinc, the skin cells of the lips can regenerate more slowly and tear open faster. Zinc is found in large amounts in pumpkin seeds , poppy seeds and sunflower seeds .
Try to avoid sugar and carbohydrates in your diet, they can promote inflammatory reactions. If the torn corners of your mouth don’t heal despite your best efforts, it’s better to see a family doctor. Serious diseases or viral infections can also be behind this .
What makes a good lip care
Even if you heed the listed tips against dry lips, additional lip care is very useful. But it really has to be the right care that is tailored to you. Anyone who uses lip balm regularly swallows an average of 20 grams a year . That’s about four lipsticks . Surely you can now imagine why the right recipe is so important. The ingredients from the care products get into your stomach and are absorbed there. But don’t panic, in most cases it is easy for your body to break them down.
Investing in quality lip care is worth it . After all, it has to meet a number of criteria so that it can really care for the delicate lip skin in the long term. UV protection of at least SPF 20 is important , especially in summer or on a skiing holiday . Because the mouth is not spared from sunburn and cannot even protect itself from harmful radiation.
The basis of a lip care product is always fat . On the one hand, there are artificial fats, such as paraffins , or natural ones, such as olive or jojoba oil . Natural oils such as shea butter , castor oil or jojoba oil are particularly beneficial for sensitive lip skin . But the Schuessler salts no. 1 , 8 or 11 also have a positive effect on the suppleness of your lips. You can either let them melt on your tongue in the form of tablets or apply them to your lips as an ointment.
In the cold winter months, your care should be very rich in fat and at the same time low in water . If the ingredients seal off your lips, the skin can breathe less well. In this way, the sensitive skin areas are also ideally protected from wind and cold temperatures.
A natural home remedy for dry lips is honey . The natural product has a healing, moisturizing and disinfecting effect. If your skin is already suffering from the effects of sunburn, a mixture of quark and honey will give you relief. You can also regularly make a honey mask yourself and leave it on overnight.
Harmful components of lip balm
Until you have found the perfect lip balm, you will certainly have to try one or the other product. What might work on others may not further impress your lips. Therefore, if you have found a product that you tolerate well and that keeps your lips supple, it is best to stick with it .
Always check the ingredients before you buy. You should avoid paraffins, for example. These odorless fats are based on petroleum or mineral oil . They are usually marked ” Petrolatum ” or ” Cera Microcristallina “. The problem with paraffins is that on the one hand they harm the environment because they are based on a limited raw material. On the other hand, there are assumptions that the substances can be deposited in the internal organs and not broken down. In combination with hydrocarbons, paraffins can even be carcinogenic .
True, natural ingredients in lip balm can cause allergies. In most cases, however, an allergic reaction is more likely to be due to the fragrances and preservatives . Therefore, you should rather avoid these additives.
Proper care of lips
Even if it is sometimes tempting: Don’t over-care for your lips. Even if you constantly feel the need to apply your lip balm, resist the temptation. They should only be applied when there is a real need. You should also use an extra rich care product in the evening that you leave on your lips overnight.
Use a lip scrub regularly as part of your care routine . This removes dead skin cells from dry skin and also promotes blood circulation . This will make your lips look rosy and healthy.
Make your own lip balm
You can also make your own lip balm in a few simple steps. This is cheap, natural and environmentally friendly . You need:
1. Beeswax or the vegan version cocoa butter
2. Either shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut oil or avocado oil
3. Essential oils like vanilla, orange or lavender to taste
4. Small screw top cans
No matter which oil you choose and whether you use beeswax or cocoa butter, the ingredients must be in roughly the same proportion to each other . For about two filled jars, 10 grams per ingredient is enough. You can also combine the oils. You only take a few drops of the essential oils . To mix all the ingredients together, first heat a pot with some water. Now put all the ingredients in a glass and put it in the pot.
With stirring, the ingredients will melt and bind together in the water bath . The water should not boil. You can remove the pot from the stove as soon as an even mass has formed. Immediately pour the mixture into the clean cans. Then put it in the fridge to harden .
After a few hours, your balm will be ready. Now you can also take it out of the fridge so that it can be better spread on the lips later.