💋 Dry Lips: Causes, Treatments & Prevention

A Nutritionist's Top Tips for Severely Dry Lips

If you're constantly struggling with dry, chapped or irritated lips, in this article you'll learn everything you need to know about dry lips, causes, prevention and effective treatment.

Lip balms

If you live in Australia, you need to look after your lips. The thinner & naturally dryer skin of your lips is easily irritated and damaged by the heat, cold, sun and water.

The obvious solution is to simply apply lip balm, after all there are LOTS of lip balms and treatments on the market that promise lip protection along with smooth & luscious lips.

But many lip care products like lip balm and lip gloss contain chemicals & ingredients that can actually make your lips drier!

Not only can lip balm ingredients dry your lips out even further, many also contain chemicals you probably shouldn't be eating. That's correct, much of what you apply to your lips is actually eaten!

How much lip balm do YOU eat?!

If you apply your lip balm, lip gloss or lipstick 2-3 times per day, you’re probably eating around 24mg of product every day. That works out to around 9 grams per year.

The average women eats the equivalent of 2 whole entire lipsticks or lip balms every year! 🍴 💄💄😋

Researchers at Berkeley University calculated that the amount of lip care products and cosmetics consumed each day ranged from 10mg all the way up to 87mg per day. 

They were especially concerned about heavy metals in lipstick and lip gloss products. These heavy metals of concern include mercury, lead, cadmium, aluminum and nickel.

Concentrations and Potential Health Risks of Metals in Lip Products | Environmental Health Perspectives | Vol. 121, No. 6 (nih.gov)

This makes it super essential that you’re choosing lip balms and other lip care products that contain only safe and healthy ingredients. Even more important to choose healthy skincare if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, dealing with a serious illness like cancer, or, you’re applying these products on young children.

Other questionable and less than healthy ingredients lurking in lip balms include:

  • Parabens (endocrine disruptors. Endocrine means hormonal system)
  • Artificial colours, flavours and fragrances
  • Petrolatum (Petroleum Jelly)
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) (red flags have been raised about links to a range of health problems including cancer, organ-system toxicity, respiratory irritation and endocrine disruption).

Naturopath/nutritionist tips to prevent dry, chapped or cracked lips this winter

Don’t lick your lips! No matter how dry your lips feel, licking your lips to try and relieve the dryness will only make things worse.

Drink plenty of water. It’s super easy to fall into the trap of drinking only hot tea and coffee throughout the day when the temperature drops. Try increasing your intake of herbal teas, or, add a dash of hot water to warm up your glass of pure, refreshing water.

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is a common ingredient in many toothpastes and can cause dry lips in people who are sensitive to this chemical.

Skincare that contains benzyl alcohol can also make lips look and feel parched.

Mouth breathing is a a surprisingly common cause of dry lips. There are many reasons for mouth breathing that may need to be addressed and include:

  • Allergies: food and environmental
  • Structural issues with your nose
  • Tongue tie
  • Habit
  • Anxiety

Certain medications can increase your risk of painful, irritated and dry lips. The most common culprits are:

  • Accutane – prescribed for acne. It’s recommended to apply lipbalm regularly throughout the day while taking this medication.
  • Tretinoin – a prescription vitamin A derivative used for acne and for its ability to prevent accelerated aging.
  • Many blood pressure medications can also cause dry lips.

Nutritional supplements for dry, cracked lips

  • B Complex – Deficiency of B complex vitamins is associated with a condition called angular chelitis where painful splits and cracks develop in the corners of your lips.  Insufficient Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is also associated with developing dry lips.
  • Vitamin C insufficiency can also lead to dry lips.
  • A deficiency of omega 3 essential fatty acids can make your skin drier in general, affecting the skin on your lips. Fish, fish oil or omega 3 fatty acid supplements from algae are great sources of these skin & brain essential fats. 
Dry lips caused by many ingredients found in lip balms, lip gloss and lipstick

Why do some lip balms make your lips dry?

Certain ingredients in lip balms can actually cause your lips to become even drier, keeping you addicted to using them. Ingredients to be aware of that can make your lips dry and sensitive include: Common dry lips causes

Vitamin E – allergy and sensitivity to vitamin E in skincare and lip balms is much more common than most people realise.  Allergy to synthetic vitamin E (Tocopherol acetate) is most common, but it can also occur with natural vitamin E (tocopherol). Vitamin E is commonly added to lip balms due to it’s ability to moisturize and enhance skin repair. However, if you’re allergic or sensitive to an ingredient, no matter it’s hero status, it’s going to cause dryness, flaking and irritation.

Peppermint oil is one of the most common lip allergens that causes dry lips and lip balm addiction.

Other natural fragrances that are frequent culprits include

  • geraniol,
  • citronellol
  • cinnamaldehyde
  • menthol
  • camphor
  • eucalyptus
  • limonene

Lanolin, like vitamin E, lanolin is renowned for it’s ability to moisturize and protect skin. It’s also another natural ingredient that many people are sensitive or allergic to. Lanolin sensitivity can cause irritated and dry lips.

Sunscreen, especially the chemical UV absorbers are very common allergens & irritants found in many lip balms. Choose mineral based sunscreens for your lips like zinc oxide. Chemical sunscreens are listed in the ingredients as

  • oxybenzone
  • octinoxate
  • avobenzone
Understanding dry lips causes, prevention and natural treatment

Looking after your lips naturally

Now you know what ingredients that cause dry lips to avoid in lip balms and skincare products, you can safely choose products that nurture and protect your lips at any time of the year. Dry Lips causes, prevention and treatment in Australia.

We’ve got your lips covered in dry defying goodness this winter. 

We created 3 healthy lip balms made with ethical beeswax from the Noosa Hinterland. Australian beeswax blended with organic plant oils – that’s it, there’s nothing else added. 


Shop Healthy Skin[care] Lip Balms


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