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Lip care: Keep your lips supple and beautiful

Holistische Gesichtspflege25.08.22 9 min. read

A flake of skin here, a burning spot there and suddenly they begin to hurt: dry and chapped lips are not only unpleasant, they are also frequently associated with pain. In addition to environmental influences such as cold or heat, stress or lack of nutrients, care also plays a decisive role in the condition of your lips. If you don't care for your lips properly, the sensitive skin of your lips can tend to become chapped more quickly.

However, injuries aren't the only thing that affect the lips. Diseases such as herpes can also cause you to deal more thoroughly with this part of the face.
If you want to learn more about lips, we have summarized the most important things for the care, treatment and prevention of dry lips in this article.

 

 

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Lip care: How to maintain beautiful supple lips

Soft lips are the epitome of sensuality. However, the skin on the lips is more sensitive and in need of protection than almost any other part of your body. Since it has no sebaceous glands, it lacks the skin's own fat, which can better protect your lips from, for example, weather influences. In addition, the skin of your lips is one of the thinnest layers of your skin. Which is one of the reasons why it loses moisture up to three times faster than, for example, your cheeks [12] It is therefore not surprising that this area is particularly sensitive. For this reason alone, some people have to struggle with dry lips time and time again.

As far as the range of lip care products is concerned, you may quickly overwhelmed by options in the drugstores. But how much care is actually necessary? Is every chapstick or lip balm safe, or can they even further dry out chapped lips?

Your lips' needs 

To understand where the needs of your lips come from, let's take a quick look at the anatomical structure. The lip (labium oris) is an organ located at the opening of the mouth. Your lips are divided into the upper lip (labium superius) and the lower lip (labium inferius), with the lower lip usually being slightly larger [1]. Both are covered by a very thin layer of epidermis.

Because the skin of the lips has no sebaceous or sweat glands, it is more susceptible to dryness or irritation from the environment [2]. In addition, it can't form its own body's protection from the sun's rays. Needless to say, proper care is crucial. Once the lips are injured, it is not only uncomfortable, but it can prevent the lips from doing their job. This includes eating, speaking or kissing, for example.

How do dry lips develop?

Probably all of us know the feeling of dry or even chapped lips. On the one hand, they are caused by external environmental influences such as heat, cold or dry air. On the other hand, lips can become dry if there is a lack of nutrients in the body. But cosmetic products, frequent licking or stress can also be triggers.

Dry lips due to environmental influences

Especially in winter, many people' lips become dry and chapped. Due to cold and frosty outdoor air, the lips lose a lot of moisture, and dry out. Above all, cold weather causes blood circulation to slow down. This in turn additionally promotes the drying out of your lips [3]. And the dry heating air in rooms or cars also puts further strain on your lips due to the low humidity.

But it's not just the cold winter air that puts a strain on your lips. UV rays and heat can dry out your lips just as much as the cold. In the worst case, your lips can even "burn" when exposed to strong sunlight [4]. Furthermore, the heat is responsible for a loss of moisture in the body, which you may also see in chapped lips [5].

Dry lips due to nutrient deficiency 

If your lips do not become dry due to cold or heat, a nutrient deficiency could be the cause. This is particularly evident in vitamin B12 and vitamin E, as well as iron and zinc.

These nutrients are involved in both cell division and metabolic processes [6;7]. Vitamin E, in particular, is essential to protect the lipids that moisturize your skin from free radicals that destroy healthy cells. When there is a deficiency of these substances, the immune system weakens and dryness of the lips occurs as a consequence [8]. A nutrient deficiency often occurs during pregnancy or in old age [9; 10]. You can find out whether your body really lacks important nutrients by having a blood test done by a doctor.

Dry lips due to stress

When stress lasts longer, your body switches to a sort of survival mode. The release of stress hormones impairs your metabolic process. In the course of this, moisture is also metabolized differently. Your body then weighs up where it needs moisture most urgently. Here the choice always falls on all internal organs such as brain, heart and lungs. [11].

However, the skin of the lips dries out more quickly in stressful situations and can tear at the sides.

Your lips also dry out due to the following things:

  • Frequent licking may have a short-term soothing effect, but in the long run it will worsen the condition of your lips. If the saliva evaporates, the lip skin is additionally deprived of moisture and dries out even more [12].
  • Cosmetic products can also dry out your lips. For example, if lip care sticks, lip glosses or lipsticks contain mineral oils (INCI including paraffinum liquidum), silicones (INCI including dimethicone) and - for sensitive skin types - fragrances such as linalool.
  • In particular, the formulations of matte lipsticks and long-lasting products can lead to dry lips [13].
  • Dehydration is one of the most common reasons why your lips are dry. For example, if you exercise a lot or there are high temperatures outside and you don't drink enough water, your body suffers a high loss of moisture [14]. Since the supply is then concentrated on maintaining the organs that are essential for survival, the lips, for example, dry out.

Herpes – Progression and symptoms

Herpes often manifests itself as a small painful blister around the edges of the lips, between the nose and mouth, or directly on the lips themselves. However, the rest of the face and even the rest of the body can also develop herpes blisters.


After droplet and smear infection [16] with herpes simplex virus type I, stress or illness in particular can promote the outbreak of herpes. The uncomfortable cold sores that then form are often itchy and oozing.


An infection with herpes viruses is experienced by about 90 percent of all people. It is therefore very likely that you already have antibodies against herpes simplex in you. However, not every immune system reacts to the virus with the recurring formation of herpes blisters. Many people do not even know that they carry the virus, because the initial infection often occurs without symptoms or complaints [17].

Only when the immune system is weakened by stress or a cold, for example, can the virus multiply and become visible in the form of annoying blisters around the mouth. Lack of sleep or strong sun exposure can also cause cold sores [18].

What you should consider when caring for your lips in case of herpes, you will learn in the section of the same name here in this article.

Lip care: It's better to do without this

How exactly can you protect your lips from dryness and cracks? Which products are actually helpful and which are harmful?
The skin of your lips is seven times thinner than the rest of your skin. For this reason, it is essential to care for them with the right products. Meanwhile, there are lip balms in all possible colors, fragrances and variations. However, if you want soft and supple lips, you should keep your hands - or rather your lips - off lip balms that contain mineral oils and silicones. [19]. Instead of moisturizing your delicate lip skin, these ingredients form an impermeable film on the lips. In this way, they can dry out further.

In addition, parts of the lip products enter the body through licking and eating. The mineral oils and silicones they contain can not only be toxic, but also carcinogenic [20]. And as delicious as sweet fragrances may smell, they can be detrimental to the treatment of dry lips.... And that is if you are allergic to fragrances or maybe even perfume[21].

Lip care for dry lips  

How to protect your lips from drying out

If you want to protect your lips from drying out, there are different ways to do this. Firstly, you can apply fat-based, water-free cold protection creams to your lips in winter. This relieves the feeling of tension in the lips and strengthens the skin's protective barrier [22].
To protect yourself from the sun during the hot season, you should turn to lip care products that offer UV protection. These can be applied as a cream or lip balm. When buying, make sure that the products do not contain mineral oils or silicones. Here it may be worth looking at the range of natural cosmetic brands, as they do without these ingredients...

A balanced diet, which contains plenty of zinc, iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin E, can counteract dry lips. Zinc is found mainly in oysters, meat products or cocoa. Iron is found in meat products, among others. If you want to resort to plant-based foods, pomegranates, pumpkin seeds or basil are good sources of iron. Vitamin B12, meanwhile, is mainly found in meat products. You can, however, find the vitamin in some ready-made products such as soy drinks or juices, whereby attention must be paid to the vitamin B12 content [24]. Vitamin E, on the other hand, is found especially in vegetable oils such as sunflower oil or wheat germ oil.

Drinking sufficient water is part of a balanced diet. Especially during physical exertion and hot temperatures, you should drink at least 2 liters of water a day. This will balance the fluid balance in your body and better protect your lips from dryness.

Stress always has a negative effect on the body. Unfortunately, you cannot always avoid it. However, you can compensate for it by exercising and meditating. Ingredients like lavender or CBD can also help relieve stress [25].

 

What to do if your lips are already dried out

One of the most popular home remedies for chapped, irritated lips is honey. Some varieties have anti-inflammatory properties that help irritation to subside. Wax or beeswax can also be used for chapped lips. Beeswax not only protects against heat and frost, but also has antibacterial properties [23], which makes it suitable for chapped lips.

Lip care for herpes 

The first rule for herpes is not to touch the infected area. In most cases, the blisters heal on their own after a few days. Please keep in mind that you will contaminate cosmetic products that come into direct contact with the infected area. If you continue to use the product, the next time you apply it, you will spread the viruses further on your lips, risking the inflammation to flare up again or delaying the healing process.
So weigh up whether you care for your lips with a balm, for example, during an acute inflammation phase. If you decide to do so, you can take the required amount directly from the product with clean fingers, apply it to the lips without contact with the herpes if possible, and then wash your hands thoroughly.
If necessary, you can go to a pharmacy for advice on the various herpes medications or visit your family doctor.

Bottom line

Dry, chapped lips are not just an inconvenience. Behind it, in addition to pain from cracks, there is often a lack of nutrients, the use of the wrong care products or even weather conditions.
Since the skin of the lips is very thin, it loses water faster than other parts of the face. In order to prevent them from drying out, it can be helpful to rely on natural waxes instead of mineral oils.

A popular home remedy for dry lips is honey. Individual varieties have an anti-inflammatory and soothing effect.

FAQ

What helps against dry lips?

There are several ways to moisturize your lips. You can apply a lip balm or lip balm from natural cosmetics, which contains beeswax, for example. If possible, make sure that it does not contain mineral oils or silicones. These may feel good on the lips at first, but they make it more difficult for your skin to "breathe". This promotes the drying out of your lips.
There are also creams that protect your lips from both icy air and UV radiation. Both in summer and winter, the structure of your lips can be damaged. In winter, look for fat-based formulations, as water-based products can contribute to cold damage to your lips. You should also drink plenty of water and eat a nutritious diet.

What is the best lip care?

The "one" best lip care for everyone does not exist. After all, everyone reacts differently to certain products. However, beeswax and castor oil enjoy great popularity. Due to its natural origin, it does not irritate the skin. These ingredients also serve as protection for the skin of the lips against frost. Especially for protection in the summer, there are lip plumping sticks with sun protection factor.

Which deficiency causes dry lips?

If your lip skin feels dry, this can have several causes. For one, your entire body could be dehydrated, which is why your lips are dry accordingly. Therefore, you should always drink enough water.
Furthermore, there could also be a nutrient deficiency. However, this can only be determined by a doctor with a blood test. If dry lips are accompanied by fatigue, this could be the first sign of a nutrient deficiency.

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  2. Schwarz, Felix: Das hilft gegen spröde Lippen. 23.11.2015 in Apotheken Umschau More Info
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  4. Weigl, Tobias: Trockene Lippen - Soforthilfe bei spröden Lippen. 19.12.2019 in DoktorWeigl.de More Info
  5. Samuel N. Cheuvront, Robert W. Kenefick, Scott J. Montain, and Michael N. Sawka. 01. Dec. 2010. More Info
  6. Beise, Uwe, Andreas Burkart, and Felix Huber. "Vitamin-B12-Mangel." Praxis 105.22 (2016): 1331-1335. More Info
  7. Muggli, R. "Vitamin E‐Bedarf bei Zufuhr von PolyenfettsĂ€uren." Lipid/Fett 96.1 (1994): 17-19. More Info
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  10. Arens-AzevĂȘdo, Ulrike. "ErnĂ€hrung im Alter." ErnĂ€hrung & Medizin 21.02 (2006): 59-65.DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-946687. More Info
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  13. Gumpert, Nicolas: Trockene Lippen Lippenstift. 30.06.2022 in Dr.Gumpert.de More Info
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