Lips take a lot of abuse, but they lack the protection that the rest of our skin enjoys. They have no oil or sweat glands, and they’re constantly exposed to irritants: the tip of the tongue, our food and drinks, environmental pollutants, the weather, the list goes on and on.
Our mouths need just as much care as the rest of our skin, if not more, but despite everything they do for us, our lips are often overlooked or downright neglected. Keep reading to find out how to fight off some of the most common lip problems and put forth a perfect pout.
1. Don’t Lick Your Lips
When it comes to our lips, we’re our own worst enemy. A lot of our habits can lead to lip dryness, soreness and irritation.
Licking your lips feels great. It cools them down, but it also makes your problem much worse. Your saliva evaporates quickly, leaving them drier than before, and the enzymes that help your saliva clean your mouth and digest food are much too harsh for your lips.
Avoid breathing with an open mouth. It’s bad, and not just because it looks uncouth. Think of all the air being sucked and blown constantly over your poor lips as you gasp and pant, sapping moisture with every breath. Inhaling and exhaling through your nose will stop that harmful, desert-dry airflow.
It might sound obvious, but don’t kiss anyone with a sore or infection on the mouth or face. Viruses, fungi and bacteria can easily enter cracks in the lips’ thin skin. And consider this, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, by age 50, nearly 90% of Americans have been exposed to herpes simplex 1 or 2, the viruses that cause cold sores.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
Have you ever noticed that your eating habits sometimes seem to soothe your complexion? Or that your skin might react poorly to a junk food bender? Make no mistake; your diet is a big factor in your lips’ condition.
Your lips are dependent on a steady intake of vitamins and minerals, so stick to healthy, nutrient-dense foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Vitamins B and E are especially important for healthy lips and skin.
3. Use the Right Lip Balm
Look for a product with a base of beeswax, petroleum jelly or paraffin. These seal in moisture and won’t evaporate as quickly as thinner balms or glosses. For extremely irritated lips, aloe vera is a good ingredient. This plant’s soothing properties are often used to heal sensitive sunburns, and it’s also safe to ingest. Sunscreen is also crucial, even in winter.
Another tip, your lip balm will be a lot more effective if there’s no buildup in the way. Experts recommend exfoliating about once a week with a gentle lip scrub product.
Some balms are deceiving, containing ingredients that dry out your lips even more. Salicylic acid, the miracle worker in acne medication, is one such culprit. The properties that help pimple cream dry up your trouble spots will have the same effect anywhere else it’s applied. Menthol and camphor, though soothing, can also cause issues. Stay away from fragrances and silicone, which also sap moisture.
4. Exercise Your Lips
How far would you go for a perfect, heart-shaped mouth? For many people, the invasive idea of implants or injections is too much. Think about it — how healthy is it to have fat or silicone pumped into your lips?
If you’re determined to perk up your face, dedicate a few minutes a day to lip therapy and other facial exercises. The right routine can increase blood circulation, which will give you a healthy glow, and it can improve the tone, texture and shape of your facial skin.
Though lip therapy is often used to improve mouth and throat functions like swallowing, the correct exercises can also improve the appearance of your lips. Some exercises can make lips fuller; others may make lips smaller. Why mess with dangerous and expensive surgery?
5. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is definitely a habit that is non-skin friendly, amongst other things. Smoking can accelerate aging of the skin by damaging our skin cells and contributing to the loss of collagen. And, of course, this all leads to wrinkles.
Add to that the repetitive motion of pursing your lips around that little smoke stick and it’s highly likely you will be left with permanent impressions on your lips. Smoking is also a lead contributor to the lines and wrinkles around our lips as well. So, if you want your lips to look pouty and perfect, you may just have to quit that bad habit once and for all.
6. Stay Hydrated
This is a no brainer, right? This applies to all of your skin; you want to stay hydrated inside and out. But, the skin on our lips is so unique that staying hydrating is more important than ever. So, in addition to applying your moisturizing lip products, you also want to drink a lot of H2O for maximum hydration.
This is great for your lips and your skin!