Fight the freeze! How to protect your lips in winter

By Shahnaz Husain

With the cold winter weather gripping much of the country, many people are experiencing dry, cracked and painful lips.   The cold air, the chilling wind and   the centrally heated air   inside  strips the moisture away from your lips leaving them chapped, flaky, slit, sore and painful,  a condition known as common cheilitis.  The harsh winter winds have a significant effect on our body particularly on our lips  leaving them dry, chapped, flaky, cracked and even painful. Exposure to sun, wind and cold, dry air can further contribute to chapped lips because the skin on the lips is thinner and more delicate than the skin on the face and the rest of the body.     Furthermore, dry lips can be due to other factors like lifestyle disorder, the spike in blood sugar, blood pressure, an allergic reaction to your toothpaste, lipstick or beauty products and pollution in the environment.   The skin on our lips is very thin, sensitive and lacks sweat glands, so they’re almost always exposed to the elements. . The skin on our lips has just three to five cellular layers, compared to typical facial skin, which has up to 16 layers.The skin on lips dries out 10 times faster than the rest of the skin on our face . The harsh winter winds may be the reason your lips feel super tight and dry but that doesn’t mean you have to wait till spring to wear your favourite lipstick or get a picture-perfect pout for a selfie.     

Nutritional deficiencies can also lead to dry, chapped lips. Sometimes, even cracks may develop. Vitamins A, C and B2 are important for the lips. So, foods like citrus fruits, ripe papaya, tomatoes, carrots, green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole-grains, oats, and milk products may be included in the diet. Of course, it’s best to take your doctor’s advice before making changes in your diet, especially if you have any medical condition. 

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Use glossy lipsticks and lip balm. Avoid soap and powder on the lips. Remove lipstick with a cleansing cream or gel. Apply almond oil or cream at night and leave on. 

After washing the face, the lips may be rubbed gently with a soft towel to remove dead skin. Apply cream of milk (malai) daily and leave on for an hour. If the lips become dark, add a few drops of lemon juice to the cream of milk. At night, apply pure almond oil daily on the lips and leave on overnight. 

Honey can be mixed with sesame seeds or walnut powder and used as a scrub for the lips. A little almond oil may also be added. 

Oils like Argan and Coconut oil also help to nourish the skin on the lips. Argon oil is actually native to Morocco, where it has been traditionally used for food purposes, as well as to treat skin and scalp problems. Today, it is being increasingly used for cosmetic purposes to make cosmetics like moisturisers, creams, lotions, face packs, hair oils, hair conditioners, etc. 

Argan oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin E. Since it contains Vitamin E and antioxidants, it helps to delay the visible ageing sign and even rejuvenate the skin. It protects the youthful properties of the skin, like elasticity and resilience. As it is easily absorbed by the skin, it can be ideal for the care of the lips. The fatty acids also nourish and soften the skin. The oil was used for medicinal purposes to cure skin problems and also heal and soothe burns. It nourishes the skin and improves skin texture. Argan oil can be used directly on the skin. Use only a few drops directly on the lips. 

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Coconut oil has also been valued for its nourishing and moisturizing ability. It has a great skin-softening ability and helps to make the skin soft and smooth. It may be applied on the lips and is also said to protect the skin from the damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun. It is said to protect the skin better than cream. It also helps to heal cracks on the lips. In fact, it can be used to remove make-up from the face, including the lips. Coconut oil may be applied on the lips and left on overnight. Or, it can be left on for 15 minutes and wiped off with moist cotton wool. The advantage is that unlike other preparations that may contain synthetic ingredients, coconut oil can be safely applied on the lips and even ingested. Another advantage is that unlike other oils, coconut oil does not become rancid. 

Coconut oil and Argan oil-based lip balms and lip creams can also be used for the care of the lips.

Licking your lips seems to be the best idea to make them moist. Licking will make your lips drier and the constant biting can cause bleeding. Once you put saliva on your lips, the air causes the saliva to evaporate pretty quickly, making your lips dry and can leave the delicate skin feeling irritated as well. Digestive enzymes and bacteria in saliva can makes them dry out faster, making your lips even drier overall. Also, don’t touch your lips unnecessarily as the bacteria and germs from your hands can transfer to your lips and can lead to infection. 

The author is an international fame beauty expert and is called herbal queen of India 

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