Dry, chapped, and cracked lips are absolutely miserable to deal with. Especially when you can’t seem to keep it under control, no matter how much lip balm (chap stick) you use.
So what’s really going on?
Despite what you may have been told, dry and scaly lips aren’t just caused by the dry winter air and wind.
Your Chapped Lips Can be Caused by Many Things
Nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, chemical sensitivities, and a long list of other things can result in chapped lips.
This is why most lip balms don’t work—they don’t fix what’s really causing your dry lips.
And to make matters worse, most store-bought lip balms can irritate and dry out your lips—sometimes they can be the cause of your chapped lips.
That’s because lip balms often contain chemical irritants.
The point is, mainstream lip balm isn’t the solution to your chapped lips.
The solution is this complete guide to healing dry, chapped lips. It will help you find relief by identifying the root cause while suggesting irritant-free lip balms.
Click on a step to jump to it
Home Remedies for Dry and Chapped Lips
This first step will help you find immediate relief without making the issue worse.
You see, standard lip balms out there often contain chemical irritants.
While these products may provide relief for a few hours, they ultimately can ultimately make your chapped lips worse.
It can be really frustrating to say the least.
So instead of using your potentially harmful chap stick or lip balm from the store, pick up one of the natural remedies mentioned blow. The home remedies mentioned here…
- Contain minimal amounts of chemical irritants
- Contain natural substances that both protect and moisturize your lips—this is key!
- Are free of other substances that are horrible for your health.
After trying one of these remedies, you may even find that this was all you needed to find relief.
If not, though, don’t be discouraged. Even if they aren’t a long-term solution, they can at the very least buy you some time before you figure out what’s really causing your lips to dry out.
Sky Organics Lip Balm
Aside from making your own lip balm, this is one of the best natural lip balms on the market because…
- It contains coconut oil to provide intense moisturization
- It contains beeswax to lock in moisture and protect your lips from getting damaged by the wind, dry weather, or mouth breathing at night.
- It contains calendula which can help reduce inflammation and redness (1)
- There are countless reviews of people using this product that have cured their dry, cracked, or chapped lips with this product.
- The only con is that it contains vitamin E which can result in contact dermatitis if you’re sensitive to it. So if you find that your lips feel more irritated or chapped even after using this product, you may be sensitive to vitamin E. In this case, I suggest using the Bronner’s lip balm.
By applying a lip balm like this a few times a day and before bed, you can heal chapped lips in no time.
Homemade Natural Lip Balm — DIY
If you would rather have control over what ingredients go into your lip balm, you can just make your own.
Even though this method takes more effort, the product is better because it is 100% free of known chemical irritants.
So if you want to go through the extra effort, here’s what you’ll need:
Treat the Underlying Causes of Your Chapped Lips
Ok, now that you have one of the above lip balms to provide immediate relief, it’s time to figure out why your lips are getting chapped.
I admit, it can be somewhat of a challenge to figured out what’s causing your lips to dry out and crack. But in my experience, if you work on each of these suggestions, then you can find long-lasting relief.
When your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, it can’t function properly.
These are just examples of course. But my point is, if you’re not getting the nutrients your body needs, problems will arise. And it turns out that chapped, dry, or cracked lips can also be a sign that you’re deficient in certain nutrients.
Specifically, it could mean you need more
- Vitamin A, B, C, E
- Vitamin B12 and B2
- Omega-3 fatty acids
For example, according to the Oregon State University, when you don’t get enough riboflavin (vitamin B-2), it can cause dry and cracked lips at the corners of your mouth (4).
Studies have also found that if you’re not getting enough omega-3s in your diet, that you can experience skin problems and dry skin which can occur on your lips (5).
The point is, nutrient deficiencies can cause chapped lips.
And if you don’t address your deficiencies, no amount of lip balm is going to help.
There was a time I had severe chapped lips, and nothing seemed to help. It was tremendously embarrassing. But all that changed when I took a high quality multi-vitamin, an omega-3 supplement, and a vitamin B complex.
Between following some of the other recommendations and taking this trio of supplements, I was able to completely get rid of my dry and cracked lips.
The thing is, quality makes a huge difference with these supplements. Only high-quality supplements work because they are absorbed better compared to low-quality supplements.
Here’s what I used:
There are several chemicals that can also cause severely chapped lips.
To keep things simple, here’s a complete list of common chemical irritants that can cause or worsen chapped lips:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS): This chemical is one of the most common chemicals that causes chapped lips and mouth sores. It’s a common foaming agent found in toothpaste. I spent a lot of time looking for a good SLS-free toothpaste, and Jason’s Powersmile toothpaste is my favorite by far.
- Vitamin E: While it may not be a “chemical” traditionally speaking, countless lip balm products use vitamin E. But one study found that up to 33% of people get contact dermatitis from topical vitamin E (6). Note: this specifically refers to dl-alpha-tocopherol and not plant-derived vitamin E.
- Castor Oil: While castor can provide relief for some people, it has a high content of ricinoleic acid. The problem is, it’s estimated that ricinoleic acid is responsible for 54% of chemically induced dry and cracked lips (7).
- Lanolin: A waxy substance that’s secreted by the oil glands of sheep. It’s used in some lip balms to help your lips retain moisture. It works great, but not if you’re sensitive to it.
- Fragrances: If you ever see “fragrance” listed on the ingredients of a product, don’t use it. Fragrances are a cocktail of chemicals. But companies are only required to label them as “fragrance.” It often consists of harmful chemicals like citronellol, cinnamaldehyde, and hormone disruptors called phthalates. These chemicals are notorious for causing allergic reactions, and this includes dry and chapped lips.
- Petrolatum (petroleum jelly): This is another common lip balm ingredient that you will see. The thing is, it’s made from the same stuff you put in your car: petroleum. And the process facilities use to manufacture petroleum jelly often involves cancer-causing agents and irritants (8).
Another common culprit of cracked and inflamed chapped lips is a yeast infection from Candida albicans.
Under normal circumstances, candida is a helpful yeast that helps with digestion and nutrient absorption.
But when you have an unhealthy diet that has too much carbs and are exposed to antibiotics, candida can grow out of control.
This can result in a wide range of unpleasant symptoms such as
- Chronic fatigue
- Mood disorders such as depression, mood swings, or anxiety
- Recurring UTIs
- Oral thrush (your tongue will have a white film on it)
- Sinus infections
- Intestinal discomfort, diarrhea, or cramps
- Brain fog and hormonal problems that can result in a low sex drive, migraines, and water retention
- Skin and nail fungal infections
When candida infects your mouth, it can result in cracked, inflamed, or flaky lips. It can also result in what’s called angular cheilitis—when the corners of your mouth are red, they crack, and are quite painful.
The biggest red flag of a candida overgrowth in your mouth is if there’s a white film covering the insides of your cheek and the top of your tongue. But this red flag isn’t always there to tell you if you have a candida problem.
- Eliminate sugar, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates from your diet. Limit carbs in general. This is the most important step.
- Pick up a high count probiotic.
- Regularly consume fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchee, or kombucha.
- Studies suggest lavender oil is effective for killing off candida (9). Instead of adding peppermint essential oil, add lavender essential oil to the DIY lip balm as explained above.
- Eat organic foods whenever possible since most foods contain pesticides that further throw off the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut. This can give candida the freedom to take over.
Food sensitivities are delayed allergies in a sense. Most people have at least a few foods that they’re sensitive to. And usually they have no idea they have it.
The problem is, when you eat foods that your body is sensitive to, it can cause a wide range of issues ranging from skin rashes to gut inflammation.
Among the symptoms of food sensitivities is cracked, dry, and inflamed lips.
Unfortunately, food sensitivities can be difficult to identify. Many professionals out there will claim all you have to do is get an IgG food sensitivity test. But these tests are anything but reliable and accurate (10).
The only option you have is to undergo an elimination diet.
An elimination diet helps you identify which foods you’re sensitive to so you can eliminate them from your diet.
I admit, this diet is HARD. I’ve done it.
But it’s extremely rewarding because you feel so much better in the end if you’re struggling with sensitivities. Because this suggestion is a long-term and difficult fix, this should be the last thing you try if nothing else works for your chapped lips.
Aside from using a chemical-free lip balm and identifying the root cause of your chapped lips, there are several other things you can do to maintain supple and healthy lips.
Don’t Lick Your Lips
Your saliva can irritate your lips and remove natural oils that are required for healthy lips. Sometimes people develop this habit when they have had chapped lips for a while.
If you have a hard time breaking this habit, try the rubber band technique. Keep a rubber band on your wrist.
When you catch yourself licking your lips, pull back the band and release to give yourself a little sting.
Sounds weird, but this will help your brain associate licking your lips with a negative consequence. It breaks your habit significant faster using Pavlovian conditioning.
Drink Enough Water
Make sure you’re drinking enough water. This is one of the easiest things to dismiss as unimportant, but you absolutely must drink enough water every day to ensure your lips stay supple and hydrated.
I also highly suggest only drinking filtered water. And no, this doesn’t mean you should drink bottled water either—that’s just as bad.
Consider getting a water filter that removes all heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, and other contaminants.
I personally use a reverse osmosis filter under my sink.
This is important because most water is riddled with toxic heavy metals and other chemicals. Some of which can give you skin issues if you’re exposed on a constant basis (11).
Use a Humidifier
Running a humidifier at night, especially in the winter, will help add moisture to your air.
You can even add lavender essential oil to the humidifier to help you sleep!
This can help prevent your lips from drying out overnight when combined with a lip balm.
Don’t Pick at the Flakes
Avoid picking your skin flakes at all costs.
Picking the flakes will only make your chapped lips worse.
If the flakes bother you that much, remove them while rubbing your lip balm on. That way, you’re at least applying a protective barrier to the newly exposed skin.
Apply Lip Balm Before Showering
Before you shower or wash your face, apply your lip balm. This will prevent your lips from drying out from the hot water.
The Bottom Line
Chapped and dry lips can be frustrating to deal with. They look awful, they can be painful, and they just feel downright uncomfortable.
And the thing is, most lip balms you find in the store either don’t work or contain chemical irritants that can make your chapped lips worse!
To quickly cure chapped lips once and for all, you need to:
- Get an irritant-free natural lip balm
- Identify what’s causing your chapped lips
- Avoid licking your lips, hydrate, and run a humidifier at night—especially in the winter
If you follow everything in this guide, you should be able to find relief.
As always, I highly recommend consulting a naturopathic doctor if you continue to struggle with your chapped lips because it could mean you have some sort of health condition like Kawasaki disease or Sjogren’s syndrome.