You might want to pass on the Chapstick….

It’s been one cold winter, no matter where you live. And when it’s cold, we tend to ramp up the heat, which sucks the moisture from our bodies.  Plus, it’s so cold, we tend to not to want to drink the same amounts of water that we do in the summer, or when it’s warmer out, so our lips tend to get drier than normal, as unlike the rest of your skin, your lips don’t produce oils that can keep them from drying out.  I know tons of people who automatically reach for their favorite lip balm, constantly, and still have dry lips….well there’s a reason for that!

Why do most lip balms dry out your lips?

The skin of your lips is very thin and sheds every 28 days, they don’t produce any oils, and they aren’t protected from UV exposure on their own due to lack of melanin, so they do tend to dry out really easily. This is one case where you really need to read ingredients because if they have menthol, camphor, phenol, or any form of alcohol (things that have alcohol in them end with the letters “-ol”), that means that they will give you that tingle, but the tingle is usually the alcohol drying on the top layer of the skin on your lips.  So, if feels like it is adding a layer of moisture, and that minty/alcohol tingle takes any moisture you just added away.  That’s truly a bummer because so many lip balms, chapsticks, etc. that you see in the local pharmacy are filled with drying agents. You almost become addicted, because you feel like you have dry lips, apply your favorite lip balm, and it dries them out more, leading to the need for more lip balm…and the cycle continues.

Even Hilda likes to use coco butter on her lips!

Even Hilda likes to use coco butter on her lips!

What does actually moisturize my lips?

Some people really do like that tingly feeling, so it can be hard to move to a product that doesn’t allow for that tingly sensation, but to truly get moist lips, you have to ditch that tingle, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But what you can use is petroleum jelly or Vaseline work great and are very cheap.  You can also use either cocoa butter or Shea butter sticks, which are a bit pricier, but more portable than Vaseline tubs.  And, if you don’t like those options, then search other lip balms that do not contain alcohols, but are oil/lipid based as that helps to add moisture to your lips…and keep them moisturized!

What else can I do?

– Keep your mouth covered by a scarf in really cold weather

– Drink your 8 glasses of water a day

– Wear an SPF when going outdoors to prevent UV damage

– Use a humidifier at home if you use heat, to help keep your lips full of moisture

– Don’t pick or pull at dry skin from your lips- it can make the situation worse.

– If your lips are very chapped all the time, you may want to see a Healthcare Practitioner (HCP) to see if maybe you have a vitamin deficiency, and not necessarily a dryness issue!

So ditch your products with the tingle, and get some real moisture for your lips. You’ll save money in the long run, and have better looking moist lips!

Yours in Good Health


Dry, Itchy, Winter Skin?

A common problem in the winter is that your skin becomes dry, flaky, itchy, and it can really be difficult to make your skin feel normal.  All the fluctuations with heat, feeling cold, warm showers, etc. make your skin worse, but the good news is that there are some pretty simple tips to help keep your skin moist and healthy….so you can live itch free this winter!

Why is dry skin an issue?
When you have dry skin the fine lines that you can’t normally see become apparent, and the skin also feels rough, and can appear flaky.  Medically, it is known as xerosis.  Now, even though you might think this is a purely visual issue, its not.  Dry skin can actually cause some major issues, like infections from the cracked skin just being open to the elements, or from bacteria under your fingernails getting embedded into the skin and cracks from scratching when it gets itchy. There can be large open sores, bacteria in the form of pus, and it can interfere with sleeping, and every day activities….not to mention it can make you feel like everyone is staring at your skin issues (even if they aren’t).

Signs of dry skin?
appearance of fine lines
cracks in skin
rough skin
itchy areas (that can crack and bleed)

What causes it?
Weather: when humidity is low along with temperatures, the moisture gets zapped from our skin
Heat: Central air, wood burning stoves, & space heaters all dry out the air
Hot Showers: despite then feeling really good and warming you up, hot showers deplete your skin of important lipids (fats) that help to keep them moist
Sun Exposure: excessive UV exposure (like sun burns) will also dry out your skin.

What can we do to treat it?
The good news is that most of the treatments are home remedies that are not expensive.  Yay!  Avoiding long hot shower is one place to start, try to keep the water warm, but not super hot, and finish your shower with a thick moisturizer. I use   the standard Palmers Cocoa Butter in the winter, and it keeps my skin moist, but I know some friends  that use thicker creams such as Eucerin which is full of emollients and fats.  I must say Palmers also created a line of skin care for dry winter skin, it is too heavy  for my skin, but if you like using cocoa butter, that line might be for you. But in general, you want to look for a cream that is thick (not thin and watery) and is in general free of dyes and scents. Also, some people will apply baby oil to their skin right after showering to add moisture, I just urge you to be careful because that can get slippery!! Use gentle soaps, that are made for the face, and are labelled as gentle with moisturizers added.  Use a humidifier in your home to offset the drying heaters, and allow some moisture in the air that can help your skin.  And, try to wear natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, etc because they are soft and less irritating to your skin than other man-made fibers.  And, finally, if your skin is super itchy, you can apply cool compresses to try to take the itch out of the area (as opposed to scratching) and applying an OTC hydrocortisone cream (1%) can help to stop the itching.  If it doesn’t you can talk to your HCP about getting a prescription cream to prevent the itching.  Also, if the scratches or cracks in your skin are painful ,red, or oozing you should see an HCP to treat a possible bacterial infection (usually a topical cream can be used).

So, keep those showers short, slap on that cream, and talk to your HCP if you continue to have trouble with dry skin, they may be able to write you for a prescription treatment.

Yours in Good Health!