For some reason, the past week or so has been quite rough (pun intended) on my lips. Aware that water loss on the lips is three to ten times higher than other parts of the face or body, I do a lot to keep my lips plump and soft – staying hydrated, using a lip scrub and a lip balm with SPF being on the top of my list. This time, my lips needed extra TLC, probably due to the hot and windy weather I’m experiencing. Undeterred, I decided to arm myself with lip care knowledge.
Well, the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin is very thin and transparent on the lips. So thin in fact, that it reveals the natural pink/reddish color of the lips that comes from the concentration and proximity to the surface of blood vessels. When you combine the thin skin on your lips and harsh weather you are very likely to experience cheilitis simplex, better known as chapped lips.
The 7 Common Causes of Chapped Lips
- Repeatedly licking your lips. Saliva was never meant to be lip balm, that’s why it’s inside your mouth. The enzymes in saliva will destroy your protective barrier leading to painful cracked lips. Use a great emollient lip balm to moisturize, not saliva.
- UV damage. The sun has no mercy when it comes to lips. Since lips have no melanin which provides some protection against sun damage, they easily get sunburned. Sunburned lips are uncomfortable, dry and peeling. To avoid this make sure your lip products have and SPF 15 or higher and regularly reapply.
- Poorly formulated lip products will strip the lips of necessary moisture. Make sure your products contain excellent emollients like beeswax, shea butter and castor oil. If you are a fan of matte lipstick, make sure to moisturize before using it since matte lipsticks can be quite drying.
- Irritants. Some ingredients in lip products can dry your lips. Common ones include menthol, camphor and the mint oils – peppermint, spearmint.
- Yeast Infections. The Candida fungus is the primary species of yeast harmlessly co-existing with other microorganisms in the mouth, skin and digestive tract. However, under certain situations like stress, medications and illness, the yeast grows out of control and causes an infection of the mucus membrane lining the mouth and tongue. As a result, sores can occur in the mouth, on the tongue and at the corners of the lips.
- Vitamin B – complex deficiencies cause painful cracks along the sides of the mouth.
- Excess Vitamin A on the other hand has also been linked to dry lips especially if you take Vitamin A supplements. It has been established that the average person gets the recommended amount of Vitamin A for their diet. Adding Vitamin A supplements is a classic case of ‘too much of a good thing.’