Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tip Tuesday: Winter Skincare, Lips Edition

Up first in my as-yet-undeterminedly-long Winter Skincare series is How to Keep Your Lips Happy When the Temperature and Humidity Drops and They Start Wanting to Fall Off Your Face, or "Lips Edition" for short.  As it gets colder and drier (in most parts of the country, at least; here in the Pacific Northwest we get to look forward to near-constant rain, but that's neither here nor there), your skin and hair lose moisture and can get cracked, dry, itchy, scaly, and/or grouchy.  The first thing to go for me is my lips, hence why I'm discussing it first (that, and because I don't really have to do any research for it!).

You want to have a good lip balm, for starters.  This can be anything from Vaseline to ... whatever the opposite of Vaseline is (Burt's Bees, maybe?), but it should protect your lips from the elements and feel good on.  In olden times, people would use axle grease or lard to treat chapped lips; fortunately, things have gone uphill since then.  Petroleum jelly (aka Vaseline) and mineral oil are common ingredients, as are shea butter, beeswax, carnauba wax, and lanolin.  Many balms have ingredients that make lips tingly, which can definitely be fun, but those things actually irritate your lips further and leave you in worse shape than you started (generally speaking, at least; if the base is moisturizing enough, that effect is mitigated).  Menthol, which is used in Carmex and Blistex, among others, is a common culprit, along with camphor, clove oil, phenol, mint, and salicylic acid.  Ideally, you want to heal your lips, not just make them feel cool (pun intended), and especially in the wintertime, when they're prone to chapping anyways, finding a solid balm without tingly additives is key.

Lip balm with SPF is also recommended, especially if you live anywhere with snow and/or sun (though even those of us in dreary rainy states should wear SPF, too!), because your lips can get sunburned, too, and nobody thinks to put sunscreen on them (and, if they do, they soon realize that it feels disgusting).  Some people are sensitive to SPF ingredients, though, especially in higher concentrations, so be aware of that when trying balms out.  You can also use a different balm at night than you use during the day; I don't like carrying around a tube of Aquaphor with me, but it's extremely moisturizing and works great as an overnight treatment.

To help keep your lips from getting dry and scaly, you can make a homemade scrub from sugar, salt, honey, and/or various kinds of oil.  Mix a little in the palm of your hand and rub gently over your lips to exfoliate, then rinse it off and apply a nice rich lip balm immediately after.  Alternatively, you can brush over your lips with a soft-headed toothbrush in a gently circling motion for gentle exfoliation.

If you wear lipstick, try and stick to the more moisturizing varieties.  Many matte lipsticks can be drying, and put that with already-dry lips and you've got a recipe for flaky disaster.  A tinted balm works nicely, or layering lipstick over lip balm (this can cut down on wear time, but that's a small price to pay!).

What are your tips for keeping your lips in tip-top shape through winter?
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