Step away from the fragranced lip balms, for starters.

As far as common beauty problems go, chapped lips is arguably the most universal of the bunch—especially come the cold winter months. Dry air outside and artificial heat indoors are the chief causes of painful cracks and peeling. But there are other culprits, as well, that are far less obvious and just as impactful.

close-up on woman's lips
Credit: LaylaBird / Getty Images

Matte lipsticks and fragranced or flavored balms (cinnamon, citrus, and mint are especially irritating) can exacerbate dry lips. Another trigger? "Mouthwashes, particularly those with cinnamates, can cause an allergic reaction on the lips," says McLean, Virginia, dermatologist Lily Talakoub. Luckily, there are ways to remedy the problem, beyond removing the aforementioned irritants from your lip and dental care products. Rule number one: Don't lick! It may feel relieving, but your lips will only be more parched after the saliva evaporates.

Naturally, hydration—both the topical and internal types ("Drink lots of water, particularly in the winter," she says)—is key. "The best moisturizer is petroleum jelly, because it seals in hydration," says Talakoub, who swears by Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($7,; for a splurge, she loves the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask ($20,, which is enriched with vitamin C and berry antioxidants and works overnight to soften your mouth.

Shea butter and castor-seed oil are also effective, says Talakoub; look for either in fragrance-free, hypoallergenic formulas, like Burt's Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm With Kokum Butter ($4.39, Reapply every two hours and after you eat, and your smile will be soft through spring.

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
March 3, 2020
Try Rodan and Fields Lip Syrum. It is amazing!