With an end of summer, the cold winter days and nights are right around the corner. We all know what that means. It’s almost time for hot chocolate, Halloween and Christmas movies on television, football, hockey, snow, and comfy sweaters. But unfortunately, it’s also almost the time of year where we all get colds, dry skin, and worst of all chapped lips. But why do people get chapped lips and is there a better way than chap stick to get rid of it? With the dry air all around us, how can we prevent it before it starts?
There are numerous factors that may result in your lips getting chapped. Some include, weather, excessive lip licking, certain medications, and dehydration. Cold weather causes the moisture in your skin to become dry leading to them to “crack”. Most people have the urge to then lick their lips to make them feel wet, but they soon after feel dry again. This is because the saliva evaporates along with more moisture, leaving them more dry and irritated than before.
Some things in your daily routine may even be causing lip drying. For example, not drinking enough water may lead to dehydration. One of the many symptoms of dehydration includes dry mouth and lips. This is most likely due to the lack of moisture in your body, causing a lack of moisture on your lips. Also, if you spend a lot of time outside and applying sunscreen is not part of your daily routine, this may be harmful to your lips. The sun can burn away every bit of moisture that you have left. If you are one to usually breathe with your mouth opened, you are most likely drying out your lips.
With all of this in mind, there is one agent in your every day life that you would never think to dry out your lips, toothpaste. Many types of toothpaste contain the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate. According to some studies, this ingredient can cause irritation and dryness of your lips. Due to this, there were many Safety Assessments of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate to prove this true or false. The assessment was done as an experimental study, studying the skin irritation of animals after applying the chemical to their skin. I find this to be unethical because no animal should be used to test a study. But, the study was still done. It was found that .5%-10% found moderate irritation and 10%-30% found severe irritation. It is unclear how many times the experiment was done and how many animals that tried it on, but that there is a possibility of skin irritation from the chemical commonly found in toothpaste.
With the plethora of reasons that your lips may be dry and irritated, there still comes the question of how we should go about preventing it. Like I said above, it is important to drink a lot of water and not lick your lips. Along with this, make sure you regularly apply chap stick or lip balm. Some doctors also recommend using lip scrubs to exfoliate dry lips and protect the new skin underneath. Unfortunately, trying to figure out the type of lip product that is best for dry lips is becoming increasingly difficult.
When looking on Google, there are hundreds of cosmetic brands, magazines, and blogs posting what they believe to be the “Best and Worst Lip Products For Chapped Lips”. These articles are hard to believe since it is based on one persons’ point of view and not an experimental or observational study or survey. For example, Real Simple, claims that, “Out of more than 45 lip balms tested, these creamy formulas softened, smoothed, and protected best”. Although there was a variety of lip balms sampled, they don’t important include data such as how many people were trying them and the factors surrounding their chapped lips. Unfortunately, the best way to figure out the best kind of lip balm may be to try all different brands for yourself.