Winter in the UK marks the start of many delightful things – days that end rather depressingly at 4pm, chunky knit jumpers that make you sweat profusely on your walk to work, bank statements that are littered with more ill-advised Ubers than usual and, of course, dry lips that seem to get even drier every time you lick them. To combat the inevitable coming of Dry As Hell Lips (a condition I have personally coined), I try to have a good lip balm around me at all times. In fact, every place I regularly frequent I have meticulously placed a lip balm. I have two by my bed, one in the bathroom, one in the living room, one in my work bag, one in my weekend bag, one in a random coat pocket, one in my gym bag and several others dotted around “just in case”. Overkill? Not to me. When you’ve experienced the pain of cracked lips that sting every time you smile or constantly flake from dehydration, you’ll try anything to prevent it from happening again. But with so many lip balms out there, which is the best one to choose? And what myths are we believing that are stopping our lips from thriving? I spoke to Holly Barber of the British Association of Dermatologists to find out.
Why do we get chapped lips?
Unsurprisingly, the cold, windy weather that’s typical of British winter isn’t great for the skin. In fact, it can have “certain detrimental effects on our skin”, according to Barber. “This weather strips the skin of moisture, leaving it dry and chapped, and prone to flaking,” she says. “Our lips in particular are vulnerable to this as they are so often exposed to the elements and the skin is thinner than other parts of our body.”
What’s the best way to treat it?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably tried tons of products to treat chapped, painful lips, but Barber advises that the best way to do so is actually the simplest. “Lip balms act as a barrier on your lips, stopping moisture escaping into the air and maintaining hydration,” she says. “Make sure you moisturise your lips regularly, reapplying throughout the day as necessary. This is key to prevent your lips from drying out in winter and to help avoid chapped lips.” It’s also just as important when you find a lip balm that works for you to stick with it, and remember, “a higher price doesn’t necessarily mean a better product”.
I’ve found a lip balm I really like, can my lips get addicted to it?
We’ve all heard the theory that the more lip balm you apply, the more you need it, but according to Barber being “addicted” to lip balm isn’t technically a thing. “Addictions are characterised by ingredients which cause physiological dependence, none of which are found in lip balms. So, lip balms can’t be addictive,” she explains. However, there’s an explanation for why you may feel like you constantly crave your lip balm. “Some people’s usage is much higher than others,” she says, “which may be explained by sensitive skin or irritants in certain lip balms (such as fragrances and flavourings) resulting in a cycle of irritation and application.”
Is it true that Vaseline dries out lips?
I was an avid Vaseline user until someone told me it was purposely drying out my lips so I’d have to keep buying it. Vaseline still gets a relatively bad wrap to this day, but Barber says that it can actually work well for most people. “Petroleum jelly is occlusive, meaning it provides a waterproof seal on the skin. This stops moisture escaping, but it can also stop moisture entering the skin too,” she ex. “For most people, it can work well as a barrier to keep the skin moisturised and protected from the elements, but if you feel any ingredient is making your lips worse, you can try switching to another product.”
Do I need to switch up my lip balms every so often?
Turns out, you don’t! While there are lots of different types of lip balms to choose from, Barber says there’s no real need to routinely switch products “unless you want to or you feel your lips are not befitting from your current product”. Does that mean I can stop collecting lip balms then? For my bank’s sake, hopefully.
5 of the best lip balms
BEST FOR REPAIRING CRACKED AND PAINFUL LIPS: BLISTEX RELIEF CREAM
If your lips are already close to the point of no return (stripping, cracked and even bleeding), the first thing you’re going to need is a cream that’ll help restore your lips to their original condition. I love the Blistex range for working wonders when it comes to lip care, but the Relief Cream will transform your lips overnight. It’s a medicated formula meant for both cold sores and chapped lips, and it soothes dry lips quickly, leaving them soft and protected. Don’t believe me? Take a quick glance at the reviews to see just how good this product is.
BEST LONG-LASTING MOISTURISER: DR. LIPP ORIGINAL NIPPLE BALM
I feel like my friends are sick to death of hearing me preach about this product, but it’s so good I want every person I meet to know about it, even if it is a little pricey. One of the things that annoys me most about lip balms is that I often feel like I’ll apply one and 15 minutes later it’s as if I never applied it at all, but with Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm it’s the exact opposite experience. It’s a thick, intensive moisturiser that’s long-lasting and penetrative, meaning it’s great to use at night as a lip mask, especially if you wear lipstick every day. You can also use it for dry cuticles, breast-feeding, eyebrow shaping, sore noses… the list is endless. It’s quickly become a beauty product I can’t live without.
BEST TINTED BALM: BURT’S BEES WILD CHERRY LIP BALM
I first encountered Burt’s Bees lip balm by accident. A sales assistant on the high street handed it to me as a free sample and I took it (because I love free stuff), but I wasn’t too fussed until I was desperate for some lip moisture and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a non-greasy, reliable, moisturising balm that leaves your lips feeling supple. It comes in lots of tints, flavours and smells great.
BEST NATURAL LIP BALM: LUSH NONE OF YOUR BEESWAX
If you like sweet-smelling lip balms made with natural ingredients then you’ll love Lush’s None Of Your Beeswax. Amongst other things, it’s made with shea butter, extra virgin coconut oil, castor oil and murumuru butter, and scented with lemon curd, vanilla and mandarin that gives it a deliciously citrus aroma. The coconut oil and shea butter means it glides on the lips, leaving your lips looking shiny and hydrated (but also pretty oily, which is something to consider if that’ll annoy you). It’s my most recent addition to my lip balm collection and I love the way it feels.
BEST for the fun factor: EOS VISIBLY SOFT VANILLA MINT LIP BALM
I honestly think the EOS lip balms are in a league of their own. While I don’t believe they’re the ultimate cure to dry lips, they are truly the most fun lip balms on the planet. Everything from the packaging, to their brilliant egg shape and enticing flavours and organic oils they’re enriched with means I’m an absolute sucker for them. If you’re anything like me, you’ll rarely have dry lips with one of these around because you’ll want to keep applying it again and again (which is probably why it’s one of the only lip balms I’ve used up).