It’s Chapped Lip Season—Here’s How to Treat Them

Winter is nearly here, and with it comes the perennial emergence of our archnemesis, chapped lips. This might actually be the most annoying skincare woe that can befall anyone’s face. The cracked, irritated mess can crop up from seemingly nowhere, causing a painful and utterly unattractive situation we are forced to wear like a scarlet letter painted across our pouts. And if it seems like your lips are more prone to chap during the colder months, you’re not imagining things. We consulted two of our favorite dermatologists, Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, and Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, and they both agreed that the brutally cold winter weather can have just as much of an effect on lip health as anything else.


” Chapped lips occur when the lip barrier becomes compromised and results in dryness, redness, cracks, and irritation,” Dendy says. Many of us know this discomfort all too well. So what can we do to treat and prevent chapped lips? Thankfully, there are plenty of options. Our duo of doctors gave us all the tips we’ll need to keep our lips smooth, hydrated, and perfectly kissable this winter and beyond. Keep scrolling for the goods.

The Most Common Causes of Chapped Lips

Chapped lips can occur for several of reasons, but according to both Ciraldo and Engelman, the root causes tend to be pretty specific. ” Lips are primed to be chapped because they have a lower density of oil glands, are in daily contact with saliva that contains alpha-amylase (a digestive enzyme that can break down skin), and are always exposed to the elements, so they take a beating from the sun, the cold weather, wind, and heat,” Engelman says. 

Additionally, Ciraldo adds that a significant amount of water loss in the body can cause dryness in the lips, meaning that on those days when you ingest too much salt or don’t drink as much water as you should, you’re running the risk of chapped lips on top of the myriad other health issues dehydration can cause. ” Start to address chapped lips as soon as they start. If you wait until your lips become uncomfortable, it can be very difficult to resolve,” she adds.


The Treatment Plan

#1: Stop Licking Your Lips

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment Skin Protectant ( $7 )

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment Skin Protectant

” If you are a lip licker you have to stop! Although this seems to give temporary comfort, it actually makes chapped lips even worse,” Ciraldo explains. ” It’s very helpful to keep your lips coated with Aquaphor Healing Ointment to prevent water loss from lips.”

#2: Scan Your Oral Hygiene Products for Possible Irritants

Marvis Amarelli Licorice Toothpaste ( $6 )

Marvis Amarelli Licorice Toothpaste

Ciraldo also points out that irritation from some lip and even some oral hygiene products can be the underlying cause of severe chapping. ” Lip stains, some matte lipsticks, and mint or cinnamon flavored toothpaste or dental floss [can cause chapped lips], she says.

#3: Take a Break from Longwear Lipsticks

Kosas Kosasport LipFuel in Pulse ( $18 )

Kosas Kosasport LipFuel in Pulse

” Traditionally, the longwear formulas tend to be drying, as they’re not formulated for moisture. Stains also don’t provide great moisture,” Engelman explains. ” If a plain balm doesn’t excite you, there are tinted lip balms that have great staying power and offer protection from wind burns that can often result in an infection,” she adds.

We love this tinted lip balm by Kosas, because it offers a nice flush of color on a variety of skin tones, while also delivering a hydrating dose of hyaluronic acid to the lips.

#4: Apply SPF Protection

Vanicream Lip Protectant Sunscreen SPF 30 ( $11 )

Vanicream Lip Protectant Sunscreen SPF 30

It should come as no surprise that SPF is just as crucial for your lips as it is for the rest of your face. Especially when your pout is compromised and more sensitive to the elements, our experts agree that coating the lips in sun protection will help you on your healing journey. Ciraldo points out that prolonged outdoor activities in the cold are an especially important time to load up on protectants.

#5: Exfoliate

Too Cool for School Coconut Sugar Scrub Lip Balm ( $18 )

Too Cool for School Coconut Sugar Scrub Lip Balm

Engelman says that exfoliating is also a good idea for treating chapped lips. ” If your lips are peeling or flakey, try an at-home exfoliation method with sugar and honey, which has healing and soothing benefits,” she says. Be gentle, though! And be sure to use a soothing ointment or salve to keep the freshly exfoliated skin moisturized and protected.


Shop more chapped lip treatments:

Lip Balms

Glossier Balm Dot Com ($12)

Glossier Balm Dot Com

This dense, waxy balm is perfect for sealing moisture into the lips and preventing them from drying out in cold weather.

Supergoop! New Play Lip Balm SPF 30 with Acai ($10)

Supergoop! New Play Lip Balm SPF 30 with Acai

Meow Meow Tweet Coconut Cacao Vegan Lip Balm ($14)

Meow Meow Tweet Coconut Cacao Vegan Lip Balm

This jumbo lip balm is packed with moisturizing ingredients like organic coconut oil, organic cocoa butter, candelilla wax, and organic rosemary leaf extract. It feels comfortable on the skin, and we love that the formula is housed in a biodegradable paper tube.

Vermont’s Original Bag Balm, 2 Pack ($22)

Vermont's Original Bag Balm, 2 Pack

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: This medicated salve is a fix-all product everyone needs to own. Whether you’re soothing chapped lips, crispy cuticles, or parched elbows, this stuff gets the job done.

Supergoop! Acai Fusion Lip Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($10)

Supergoop! AcaiFusion Lip Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Supergoop! is one of our favorite brands for clean, highly efficacious sun care products, so it’s no surprise that their lip balm is also a winner. We’ll even give it extra brownie points for the added sun protection.


Frank Body Lip Scrub ($15)

Frank Body Lip Scrub

This exquisite combination of coffee grounds, raw sugar, and macadamia oil vigorously exfoliates the skin, leaving behind a light layer of oil and the softest lips you’ve ever felt.

Burt’s Bees Conditioning Lip Scrub ($9)

Burt's Bees Conditioning Lip Scrub

Engelman mentioned that topical antioxidants like beeswax are great for repairing chapped lips, so this scrub by Burt’s Bees offers a double dose of healing.

Sara Happ The Lip Scrub ($24)

The Lip Scrub

Rid your lips of dry, flaky skin with this granulated sugar scrub. Jojoba and grapeseed oils deliver intense moisture.

Lip Masks

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask ($22)

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

This intensive lip conditioner pushes vitamin C and an antioxidant berry blend into the skin to heal and hydrate them while you sleep.

Tatcha The Kissu Lip Mask ($28)

Tatcha The Kissu Lip Mask

Tatcha’s Kissu Lip Mask imparts a luxurious blend of peach extract, camellia oil, and squalane to leave lips hydrated.

Innisfree Lip Sleeping Mask with Green Tea ($16)

Innisfree Lip Sleeping Mask with Green Tea

Spreading this jeju green tea-infused balm onto the lips is like coating them in this molasses. Even after a full night’s sleep, you’ll wake with product still intact and any inflammation calmed.

KNC Beauty All Natural Collagen Infused Lip Mask, 5-Pack ($25)

KNC Beauty All Natural Collagen Infused Lip Mask, 5-Pack

In the same way that sheet masks push moisture and nutrients into the skin, this cute pout-shaped gel mask sits on top of the lips to plump and hydrate them with collagen, hyaluronic acid, and rose flower oil.

Kari Gran Lip Whip Perfector ($18)

Kari Gran Lip Whip Perfector

We love a multi-tasking products, and this buff-mask hybrid from Kari Gran is a prime example of a one stop shop for all your lip care needs. It’s also non-toxic, which is a major plus.


Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Nourishing Lip Balm Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 20 ($22)

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Nourishing Lip Balm Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 20

Dendy swears by this thick formula to help heal the lips while also protecting them from the sun.

Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Lip Cream ($8)

Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Lip Cream

Ciraldo called out this tinted SPF 15 lip balm because it’s fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.

Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 30 ($4)

Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 30

This no-frills balm stick is perfect  for easy, on-the-go sun care. 

EltaMD UV Lip Balm Broad-Spectrum SPF 31 ($11)

EltaMD UV Lip Balm Broad-Spectrum SPF 31

The cult of EltaMD extends to lip care with this transparent zinc oxide lip balm.



6 thoughts on “It’s Chapped Lip Season—Here’s How to Treat Them

Leave a Reply