LIP SERVICE: Q & A WITH HEATHER D. ROGERS, MD

 

 THE BEST LIP TIPS STRAIGHT FROM A DERMATOLOGIST 

 

 1.  What causes chapped lips?

Lips are an amazingly specialized little areas of the skin. The top layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, is a hard, protective layer of dead keratinocytes (skin cells). This is layer is very thin on lips making them soft but also less protected from the environment. Lips do not have hair follicles or their associated oil glands to provide oil to hydrate the lip skin. These characteristics put lips at greater risk of becoming dry and irritated or CHAPPED.Other fun facts, lips do not have melanocytes to provide pigment so they have a lovely pink color from their blood vessels but this lack of pigment increases their risk of skin cancer. 

 2. Lips and fingertips have the highest density of nerves, explaining why kissing can be so much fun.

Lips become chapped from the evaporation of water from their surface drying them out. This can be caused by cold weather, wind, dehydration, chronic licking or taking medication that decreases hydration in the skin like Accutane. 

 3. How do you heal chapped lips?

Once your lips are chapped, the risk of further evaporation increase because the skin barrier is damaged. To combat this you must cover your lips with a protective coating that will prevent further evaporation and ideally return hydration to the skin. Aquaphor/Vaseline/petroleum based products use hydrocarbons to create an occlusive covering that prevents further loss of water which is a good thing. But they do not add any moisturize back. RESTORE healing balm uses Castor Seed Oil and Wax to provide that same occlusive covering but they are made from fatty oil that have also has emollient properties. Further, the glycerin in RESTORE healing balm is a powerful humectant that can pull water out of air and back to the lips to rehydrate.

4. Are there are ingredients/products you should avoid putting on chapped lips? i.e. Wearing liquid lipstick, putting scented lip balms on etc.

Once your lips are chapped, the skin barrier is broken and ingredients that typically agree with your skin may cause further irritation. Until the lips return to normal, less is more when it comes to products and their ingredients. Avoid fragrance, flavor or menthol. Acidic and spicy foods will cause further irritation when they come in contact with chapped lips

5. Is lip balm enough to heal chapped lips?

Yes, if you have the right one and apply it often enough.  You need to apply your lip balm frequently enough that there is always an protective coating on your lips. This will allow the water content in the skin to increase until it is high enough to optimize the self-repair mechanisms of the skin.

6. How do you ensure lips don't get chapped in the cold weather?

Prevention is key. You don’t go outside without a winter coat and you should not go outside with protective covering (thick, hydrating ointment aka RESTORE healing balm) for your lips.

7. Is there a way to gently remove dead skin without damaging the lip area?

A trick I recommend is covering your lips with RESTORE healing balm and then use a old, soft toothbrush to gently brush away dead dry skin while hydrating your lips. Do not pick at the dry skin bits because in addition to pulling off the dead skin you will pull off some living skin further the damage.



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