The Beauty Memo

How to treat dry, chapped lips in cold weather

A swipe of lip balm can work wonders, but there’s more you can do to achieve consistently smooth, youthful-looking lips, says MALENA HARBERS


“Our lips don’t have oil or sweat glands,” says facialist Sarah Chapman, one of the most sought-after experts in the beauty industry. “So, they’re especially vulnerable to dehydration as they lack that natural protection and lubrication.” And wearing a face covering doesn’t help matters. “You’re likely to drink less water and apply lip balm less often, and the friction of your mask can irritate the sensitive skin on your lips.” Dryness can also add to age-related changes such as a loss of volume and fine lines around the lip line. Here’s how to pep up parched lips, according to the experts…

Exfoliate gently

The key to better-looking lips is in the prep work. “Exfoliators help any balms or treatments that you apply next to penetrate more effectively,” says Chapman, who uses her Skinesis Liquid Facial Resurfacer on lips. “The lactic-, phytic- and fruit-based AHAs encourage cell renewal and soften peeling skin.” On set, makeup artist Sonia Deveney swears by textured exfoliating wipes, pre-soaked in an AHA formula, for a quick lip-smoothing fix. If you prefer a grainy exfoliant, Dr. Marko Lens, founder of Zelens, recommends a weekly sugar-based scrub, as it’s the gentlest on the sensitive lip area. For very chapped lips that sting or are persistently red, avoid acids and granules. “Rub them gently with a soft toothbrush or flannel instead,” advises Chapman. “This will remove flakes and boost circulation without added irritation.”

Choose the right balm

“You can take your regular skincare routine over your lips for the same benefits,” advises Chapman. But beware of over-sensitizing the area with harsh retinols or overusing AHAs. “It’s important to supplement with dedicated lip treatments to tackle the area’s specific needs.” Whether you use a lip oil, balm, medicated salve or serum is a personal choice, but it’s the ingredients that matter most. Look out for protective antioxidants: “They prevent the breakdown of collagen that leads to feathering lines and an uneven lip line,” says Chapman. Soothing anti-inflammatories such as shea butter will calm cracked, chapped lips. And vitamins A, C and E boost collagen production, stimulate cell regeneration and defend against environmental damage: “They also tackle vertical lines and wrinkles around the lip line,” adds Chapman. Hyaluronic acid is equally key: “It helps to visibly smooth and re-plump your lips, while peptides work to increase volume and repair damage,” says Dr. Lens.

Hydrate from within

“If you’re really struggling with dry lips, avoid alcohol, caffeine and salty processed foods as these will increase dehydration,” explains Chapman. What’s more, trans-epidermal water loss – when water evaporates from the skin – increases by up to 25 percent overnight. “Make sure you’re hydrated and have applied a nourishing lip product before going to bed,” says Chapman. Overnight lip masks and treatment oils give an intense hit of nourishment for pillow-soft lips come morning. Increasing your omega-3, -6 and -9 oil intake will keep your natural moisture barrier intact, too. “It improves your skin cells’ ability to hold onto moisture. Add more oily fish into your diet or try a supplement for a concentrated dose,” advises Chapman.

Use color wisely

Dry lips simply can’t hold pigment. “When working with models, I always use a good quality lip balm as a part of my general skin prep,” says Deveney. “Let it soak in and take off any excess with a tissue before applying color.” For a universally flattering finish, go for a neutral pink- or peach-tinted lip balm, or super-sheer lipstick dabbed right up to the edge of the lip line using your finger. If lip stains and matte textures are your preference, it’s essential to exfoliate first. “Get into the habit of completely removing lip color at the end of the day as it’s really drying.” If you prefer a nude look, any translucent gloss, balm or reflective formulation will make lips appear instantly fuller and smoother while also hydrating the skin. Deveney’s top tip: “Add a hint of Tom Ford Beauty’s Shade & Illuminate highlighter on the Cupid’s bow and across the top edge of the lip to catch the light and give a healthy shine.”


The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown