Most of us experience dry and chapped lips during the winter but have you ever had it in the
summer? I have! I was in Las Vegas for a beauty show in June and the temperature was a
sweltering 110. The bright hot sun and the dry desert heat destroyed my lips. I kept lathering
them in Chapstick and oil while trying to keep myself as hydrated as possible. But nothing
helped; I felt like the skin on my lips was tearing apart. I even had some cuts to prove it.
As soon as I got back to the humid Georgia heat, my lips started to recover, which got me
thinking about lip health and the environment. During the winter months, the lack of humidity
dries out the lips, and in the summer, constant sun exposure can do the same. Did you know
that our lips dry out because there are no oil glands and sweat glands around the lips? These
glands keep the body hydrated and moisturized. Experts say the skin on your face can be up to
sixteen layers thick while the skin on your lips is only three to five layers thick. The lack of oil
and sweat glands around naturally thinner lips make that part of your body more susceptible to
Another fun fact is there is very little to no melanin in your lips. Melanin is the body’s natural way
of protecting the skin from ultraviolet rays. Because your lips don’t have much, they are at a
higher risk of getting sunburned which is why sunscreen is the best thing to protect your lip
health. Any SPF of 15 or higher is recommended.
When your lips start to chap, there are only a few things you can do. Dermatologists
recommend you apply lip balm, drink lots of water, and cover your lips from the natural
environment. Make sure you do not lick your lips (which was my natural reaction), because
saliva can actually take off the moisture on your lips, further drying them out. If your lips are
already chapped, stop using products with camphor, alcohol, eucalyptus, flavoring, fragrance or
menthol, and start using castor oil, hemp seed oil, mineral oil, sun-protecting ingredients like
titanium oxide and zinc oxide, shea butter and petroleum jelly. Applying the right type of balm
twice a day should be enough.
I never want to go through what I did in Vegas so I’m going to do my best to prevent it from
happening again. I’ve increased my water intake, I’m applying balm at least two times a day and
I’m bathing in sunscreen. I’ve also added lip scrubs. Once a week I gently exfoliate my lips with
a sugar scrub to stimulate collagen production. Your lips get thinner as you age due to
decreasing collagen levels and the sun’s UV rays. It’s important to show them some love by
occasionally exfoliating the lips and putting on sunscreen every day.
For those traveling this summer to places with dry heat, pack a few Chapsticks just in case and
make sure you’ve got that sunscreen handy to reapply every two hours.