5 expert winter lip health solutions to keep you smiling

There are many reasons why your lips become dry and chapped in winter. Here, chartered chemist Bruce Green, explains what can be done to help.
older woman - winter lip health

This colder weather brings with it some pretty challenging conditions when it comes to winter lip health. Outside you get icy blasts

Cold/hot air exposure

The cold winter air can dry our lips as the top layer, made from keratin, becomes less flexible and elasticated, meaning the lips are more prone to chapping. Whilst dry lips are easy to treat, it’s important to act before it’s too late when lips may become split, bloodied and may trigger cold sores indirectly through sun exposure and skin irritation. Keep your lips protected when you go outside by covering them with a scarf, wearing a nourishing balm to keep lips hydrated and avoid tingly lip products.

If you turn your central heating on in the winter to warm your house up, chances are you’ve created a drier environment which is just as bad for your lip health as being outside in exposed cold winds. To keep lips from drying out, add humidifiers to the home if possible. Another route is to add bowls of water on top of your radiators/near fireplaces to circulate the moisture back into the room.


Just as sensitive skin can be caused by contact dermatitis; lips can also be hypersensitive. An allergic reaction can occur by many irritants including toothpaste/mouthwash, fragranced cosmetics, certain lipstick ingredients such as castor oil, shellac or preservatives, medication, certain foods and rubber/latex products. Cover your lips in dry conditions, drink plenty of water, refrain from licking your lips as this will dry your lips out quicker and never pick the skin off your lips as this not only interrupts regeneration but you can end up making the lips sore and looking worse.

Lack of SPF

Lips are sensitive and can lead to skin cancers such as Squamous and basal cell carcinoma, common forms of skin cancer on the lips. Without wearing SPF on your lips all year round including winter, the lack of sweat glands actually on your lips means that they become dryer than the other areas on our face. Sun exposure can also lead to deep lines and thinning lips.

lip balm - winter lip health

Actives in your skincare

If you’re using active ingredients such as Salicylic Acid or Retinol in your skincare routine, be sure to barrier the product from your lips as these stronger ingredients can cause a reaction to your lips. Commonly, lips can become flaky, dry and irritated from these skin hero products. Apply a balm such as SOS Lip, £16, which is going to protect your lips from any skincare product coming in direct contact.


Our diets are less moisture-rich in the winter – in the summer we crave hydration and tend to eat more fruit and may even drink more water to compensate for water-loss. When we think of winter diets, there’s drier, richer foods such as pub roast dinners, pies and due to festivities, you may consume more alcohol. All of these elements in our diet can contribute to drier lips.

About the author

Bruce Green is a chartered scientist, Chemist and a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He has been involved with the formulation of many famous cosmetic brands both in the UK & North America, holds numerous chemistry and cosmetic patents and sits on several EU advisory committees. Now semi-retired and in all the years working in the industry, he finds that the one issue that still dominates, is skin sensitivity. For more information visit https://www.sosserum.co.uk/.

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Tags: Last modified: November 30, 2022

Written by 5:30 pm Women's Health, Fashion & Beauty