It's Chapped Lips Season—Here's How to Treat Them

Winter is nearly here, and with it comes the perennial emergence of our archnemesis, chapped lips. This might actually be the most annoying skincare woe that can befall anyone's face. The cracked, irritated mess can crop up from seemingly nowhere, causing a painful and utterly unattractive situation we are forced to wear like a scarlet letter painted across our pouts. And if it seems like your lips are more prone to chap during the colder months, you're not imagining things. We consulted two of our favorite dermatologists, Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, and Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, and they both agreed that the brutally cold winter weather can have just as much of an effect on lip health as anything else.

"Chapped lips occur when the lip barrier becomes compromised and results in dryness, redness, cracks, and irritation," Dendy says. Many of us know this discomfort all too well. So what can we do to treat and prevent chapped lips? Thankfully, there are plenty of options. Our duo of doctors gave us all the tips we'll need to keep our lips smooth, hydrated, and perfectly kissable this winter and beyond. Keep scrolling for the goods.


(Image credit: @aysha.sow)

The Most Common Causes of Chapped Lips

Chapped lips can occur for a number of reasons, but according to both Ciraldo and Engelman, the root causes tend to be pretty specific. "Lips are primed to be chapped because they have a lower density of oil glands, are in daily contact with saliva that contains alpha-amylase (a digestive enzyme that can break down skin), and are always exposed to the elements, so they take a beating from the sun, the cold weather, wind, and heat," Engelman says. 

Additionally, Ciraldo adds that a significant amount of water loss in the body can cause dryness in the lips, meaning that on those days when you ingest too much salt or don't drink as much water as you should, you're running the risk of chapped lips on top of the myriad other health issues dehydration can cause. "Start to address chapped lips as soon as they start. If you wait until your lips become uncomfortable, it can be very difficult to resolve," she adds.

The Treatment Plan

#1: Stop Licking Your Lips

#2: Scan Your Oral Hygiene Products for Possible Irritants

#3: Take a Break from Longwear Lipsticks

#4: Apply SPF Protection

#5: Exfoliate

Shop more chapped lip treatments:

Lip Balms


Lip Masks


Up next: I Have Very Strong Feelings About Tinted Lip Balm—Here Are My Favorites

This story was published at an earlier date and has been recently updated.

Associate Beauty Editor

Courtney Higgs is a Cancer sun, Libra rising beauty enthusiast with about six years of experience in the editorial space. She was previously Who What Wear's associate beauty editor after spending many years working on the West Coast edit team at InStyle Magazine. She graduated from California State University, Northridge, with a BA in communication studies and pivoted to editorial after spending her college years working in the legal field. Her beauty philosophy is simple: She believes there are no wrong answers and that discovering our favorite beauty products and rituals is a journey, not a sprint. When she's not geeking out over products, she can be found adventuring around L.A. with her fiancé; watching reality TV with their French bulldog, Bernie Mac; or relating way too hard to astrology memes.