Why Are My Lips Always Dry and Peeling?

If you’ve experienced dry, peeling lips, you know how miserable it can be. Your knee-jerk reaction may be to lick your lips, because they are dry and uncomfortable, which just adds to the problem by causing them to feel chapped as well.

Using a lip product is a great way to keep your lips happy and smiling. What you put on your lips, though, can either condition your lips or can just mask the problem without actually helping.

Many people tout using petroleum jelly or lip products containing mineral oil. If you’ve not read the labels of your lip balms, you will be surprised at how many of them are made from these and other ingredients that come from refining crude oil. Using these ingredients makes it easier for brands to keep the cost of their lip balms down, but a wise consumer will look more at the ingredients and less at the price to get long-term results that will save themselves money. Mineral oil and other petroleum-based ingredients will coat your skin, but they cannot actually soak in and nourish. So once that layer of lip balm is gone, your lips are still dry, instead of finding that balance of nourishing moisture. 

Another option is to use products that have plant-based ingredients or make your own favorite combination. These nourishing oils can soak into your skin and help moisturize, to support your lips in feeling good now and in the long run.

How do you know what to look for on an ingredients label?

It can be hard to understand all the big words on some of those labels, but it is definitely doable and won’t take much effort. As far as identifying petroleum-based ingredients, many have “petro” in the word, or just list mineral oil as an ingredient.

Instead, look for ingredients with plant-based oils such as almond oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and shea butter. Scientific names are sometimes used in ingredient lists, but usually you will see a plant name that you recognize. Each plant-based oil has specific, nourishing properties. You might choose shea butter as a mild, soothing option or almond oil if you want an oil that soaks in quickly and is very nourishing. 

Some of the specific properties of different plant-based oils include:

  •       Almond Oil: a light oil that soaks in quickly to add moisture and nourishment
  •       Avocado Oil: a great, hydrating oil for super dry or mature skin
  •       Coconut Oil: a nourishing oil that gives a lip balm great “slide”
  •       Shea Butter: a mild butter that is soothing and often used for babies and in products where we need some extra pampering.
  •       Castor Oil: another nourishing plant oil that is a great choice in a lip balm because of its stickiness. It works nicely with other oils to create a product that stays on your lips longer as it soaks in.

Another ingredient to look for that soothes and nourishes the lips is beeswax. My favorite way to get this beeswax is right from the beekeeper, so it is less processed. Beeswax contains natural emulsifiers, making it a great ingredient for dry, peeling lips because it helps to retain moisture. It also helps naturally protect your lips against UV rays.

This brings us back to those plant-based oils again. Did you know that plant-based oils have natural protection against UV rays? 

I learned this after years of using the lip balms I made from plant oils.  It all finally made sense. For years, when I worked out in the garden, I would make sure to wear lip balm because I discovered that when I didn’t, I always ended up with sunburned lips. I didn’t understand why until I discovered this little secret about plant oils having natural sun protection. It’s not a high amount of SPF protection (if you were to measure these in SPF, each oil would be a bit different in its protection), but with regular use, you will find that it keeps your lips moist and protected.

One more thing worth avoiding in a product for dry, peeling lips is flavor. Look for an unflavored lip balm or one with nourishing essential oils. Peppermint can feel soothing on irritated lips. Lavender, believe it or not, is also super nourishing.

So, in summary, taking care of your lips is really as simple as looking for products with plant-based oils and unrefined beeswax. Your lips will love the moisturizing, nourishing, sun-protecting qualities of these ingredients.