Megan Bedford finds out why winter drives us balmy and what we can do about it:
If the thought of going through a day in winter without applying a balm or gloss to your lips makes you shudder, you’re not alone. Skin experts and psychologists have noted the problem of lip balm addiction – the former claim some balms contain irritants that can dry out your lips, creating a cycle of dryness, while the latter point out the urge to reapply can be a form of OCD, a compulsion that can be difficult to control, regardless of what’s in a product.
Zoe Foster, former beauty editor and creator of natural skincare brand Go-To, points to certain ingredients as the possible culprits behind the need to constantly reapply, but suggests environmental factors are also implicated. “Ingredients such as menthol, camphor and phenol can actually dry your lips out, hence why when using lip balms with those ingredients you need to apply 5,893 times a day.”
Along with Salicylic acid, the way these ingredients work is to gently exfoliate lips, shedding dry skin to reveal new skin. This allows moisturising properties to penetrate, but can also leave new skin susceptible to the things that cause chapping in the first place. “Dry lips are usually caused by environmental factors such as wind, air conditioners, mountain air, big make-out sessions and fragrances in lipsticks, so if your lips are feeling a bit rubbish, it’s usually because of what you’ve been subjecting them to,” says Foster.
Lip balms can be used to protect and heal so before the damage is done, apply a waxy substance such as pure coconut oil. Each morning Foster uses her Lips! A Super Balm, containing medical-grade lanolin, before applying lipstick as a protective barrier.
Internal hydration is essential too, as it’s easier to keep skin plump and soft with adequate water intake than it is to fix cracking, peeling and flaking. Once the damage is done, it’s all about healing. Avoid heavily pigmented and fragranced lipsticks and select a balm or conditioner that contains soothing ingredients such as almond, jojoba and avocado oils, shea butter and vitamin E – all known to nourish, reducing the temptation to reapply.
FQ’s tried-and-tested lip balms: