Help for Dry Winter Lips

Published in: Beauty Tips, Lips, Makeup Tips/How To

Help for Dry Winter Lips

I saw a ChapStick ad this morning before a video on YouTube, and the girl in it said that our skin is thinnest on our lips.


I thought, yeah…maybe that’s why mine hurt so much every winter!

It’s always the same, too, every year. When winter rolls around, so much ouch. My lips get cracked and dry, and it hurts.

It gets worse for a few weeks after we visit my in-laws in Redding, which is a town near the Oregon border.

Weirdly, Oregon gets a ton of rain, but Redding, even though it’s close, does not. I swear, the air there gets drier than the inside of a hot oven.

But time has taught me a few things that help my perpetually parched pout. I hope they help yours too. 🙂

1. Scrub-a-dub-dub

Exfoliate. It’s easier when my lips are soft and damp, like right after I get out of the shower.

Every once in a while I’ll mix a spoonful of sugar with a little honey or olive oil, and gently scrub (more like rub) that on my lips with an old toothbrush after I shower.

The Nimbus Microfine Regulars are awesome for this, by the way. Softest toothbrushes I’ve ever used.

They’re kind of hard to track down in stores… I’m not sure why, but here’s a five-pack on Amazon for $14. Highly recommended.

Brush your teeth (and your lips), kids! (And don’t forget to floss.)

If DIY doesn’t sound good, then you can use a regular lip exfoliator instead. Fresh Sugar Lip Polish ($22.50) is an excellent choice, as is Lush Mint Julips Lip Scrub.

2. A balm before bed

And keep it right on your nightstand, where it’ll be easy to remember (and reach).

I apply a thick layer of balm after I kiss El Hub and Tabs goodnight. It’s become part of my regular bedtime routine — 1) kiss El Hub, 2) kiss Tabs, 3) insert mouth guard, and 4) smear a thick layer of lip balm on my lips. Zzzz…

Nuxe Reve De Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm ($19) is the one on my nightstand now. It’s almost as thick as a paste and tastes and smells like honey.

The big glass jar isn’t super convenient to carry around during the day, but it’s purrfect for bedtime at night.

3. Guzzle water

For real though! Drink a sh*t-ton throughout the day. I notice a HUGE difference when I fall out of the habit of drinking enough water, and it’s not just that my lips get drier. My skin gets worse and less, I dunno…plump?

The difference is crystal clear, especially in winter. When I don’t drink enough water, my lips get tow up.

4. Lips need love (and prep) too

I keep little lip balms everywhere, including one with my primers to remind me to prep my lips when I start to apply my makeup. That way, the balm has time work its balmy magic while I work on the rest of my look.

By the time I get to the lip part of my makeup (which I usually do last), I blot the remaining balm with a tissue, and apply my lip liner, lipstick, etc. on top.

Ideally, I like slick, smooth, un-tinted balms for this, so they don’t interfere with anything else my lips are wearing.

Lately I’ve been prepping with Alba Botanica Hawaiian Lip Balm in Nourishing Coconut Cream ($2.99), which is super moisturizing and GREAT.

Shout-out to my mom-in-law in Redding for getting me hooked on it!

It tastes and smells a little like coconut, and it’s easy to layer other products on top of it, too.

5. MacGyver your way to more moisturizing lip color

I picked up this genius tip from a Wet Seal sales associate circa 1995. That girl was obviously wise beyond her years.

And here it is: create your own moisturizing lip color by lining and filling in your lips with your favorite lip pencil; then apply a layer of moisturizing balm on top.

Lately I like MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Staunchly Stylish (a gnarly nude peachy pink) with Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil ($42) on top for this.


Yes, $42 is the most I’ve ever spent on a lip balm, but I kid you not — it’s more hydrating than Niagara Falls.

OK, I am kidding. 🙂 But it is incredibly moisturizing.

I like that it’s also a little sticky, so it lasts a long time, and the shiny finish makes it look like I’m wearing gloss. I usually stock up during the Sephora VIB sales.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 18 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Chris25 says:

    I’ve been doing #5 since 1997. There’s no reason to let a pretty lip liner color stay on the sidelines. 🙂
    Chris25 recently posted … NOTD: Scrolled Gold and Golden Indigo

  2. Alison M says:

    My lips are always dry and slightly chapped in winter. The real trouble is with Little D. NOTHING prevents dryness, so most of the winter we are fighting back the flaking, splitting, and chapped moustache. Grapeseed oil helps him the most and it’s in Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask but….$$$! I just ordered Suvana Paw Paw Ointment in hopes of healing his sweet little mouth.
    Alison M recently posted … Rouge Bunny Rouge Milk Aquarelle Foundation in Cashew Milk Parfait Review and Swatches

  3. Sylvia says:

    Aquaphor is a god send for dry, chapped lips. I think of it as Vaseline’s older, more refined sister because it doesn’t taste and smell as petroleum-y.
    Sylvia recently posted … MAC Permanent Lipstick Favourites: Nudes And Neutrals

  4. I still can’t get myself to shell out $42 for Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil. So I’m just using Vaseline Intensive Lip Therapy which costs so much less, around $1 only. But it still gets the job done, so I’m still happy with it. 🙂

    Do you also use MAC Prep+Prime Lip to prime your lips with, especially with matte lipsticks? I apply Vaseline Lip Therapy as soon as I step out of the shower so it’ll soften my lips while I get ready. Then before applying a lipstick, I blot the excess and apply MAC Prep+Prime Lip. Let it set for a minute then apply my lip makeup. Works wonders for me! 😀
    Alyssa Melanie recently posted … Chanel Paradisio Nail Polish

  5. Jennifer says:

    I loved the lip emulsion scrub that Smashbox made a few years ago. I think it’s been discontinued. It had a great peppermint scent and really smoothed my lips.

    I haven’t tried the Hourglass yet. I’m sure I would love it.

    I rely on the lip pencil/lip balm trick a lot. It’s probably my favorite.
    Jennifer recently posted … Really Great Things #27

  6. My lips starts behaving the same way in winters so I have to stick up on lip balms and literally putting them everywhere around the house.. :-P.
    I have tried dig lip scrub one and it was awesome but a readymade would be great for emergencies.

    I am not sure if I can make myself spend $42 on a lip balm .. Though it seems really amazing 😉
    Poo@beautyandmakeupmatters recently posted … L’Oreal Paris Color Riche Star Pure Red Lipstick – Pure Garnet Review, Swatch, LOTD

  7. My lips have been so so dry. I needed this! Thanks Karen!
    Ankita@corallista recently posted … Makeup Tutorial : Red Carpet Glam (Video)

  8. Dee says:

    That Reve de Miel…ive heard about it from sooo many people now. WHen i saw it in a tester in store it seemed so..”hard” so I passed on it. But is that how it actually is or is it soft /smooth?? Thanks Karen!
    Dee recently posted … A cleansing device conundrum

  9. My lips are a sad dry mess in winter so I always have lip balm at hand. Or on lip, I guess. Right now I’m using L’Occitane’s new Ultra Soft Balm, works great.
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Review | Bobbi Brown Orange Sheer Lip Color & Bobbi Brown Hot Berry Art Stick

  10. Stephanie says:

    I have been waiting for this post! Thanks!

  11. Kim says:

    I generally use a BITE lip scrub and then finish with Sugar’s Lip Treatment (tube) before bed. Both work OK and I definitely balm throughout the day (I have like 5 different tubes on me at all times). In extreme emergencies, I have my cure all balm that is rationed to the max. I got it a couple of years ago on an overseas flight as part of a First Class gift bag (we got a good deal because one of my fellow travelers has a good friend with the airline). Anyway, it is the best ever. I’ve never been able to find out who made it for them (and yes, I actually contacted the airline to find out). It’s probably some toxic, chemical-laden tube but it’s a serious miracle worker. The kids know that it’s my special, special balm so if I use it on them they feel very honored (or they roll their eyes and say “we know… it’s very special”. 🙂

  12. GLORIA says:

    Ah! I have Nuxe lip balm on my nightstand too!!! Have been using that for a while. Karen, did you try their other products? I am curious about that brand but didn’t have chance to explore.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gloria,

      I did many years ago (like 8 or 9). It’s been a while! I remember most of them being just OK, but my skin was so completely different back then (more oily, less dry).

      • Gloria says:

        I feel the same too. I tried their moisturizer a couple of years ago and liked it.. but I feel it’s just ok now. but i still like brands with ‘natural’ concepts.

  13. Trudy says:

    If I’m not wearing a lipstick, I always have plain old Vaseline petroleum jelly on my lips. Works a treat to keep my lips moisturised. That and drink a ton of water like you say. How I know that I’m not drinking enough is that my lips dry out and my fingertips start getting dry catchy bits of skin on!

  14. Chic Lapin says:

    You’re so right about the water. Being hydrated makes everything better and prettier! 😀
    Chic Lapin recently posted … Birthday GIVEAWAY! YSL Volupte Tint-In-Oil in shade 6 “Peach me love”

  15. fancie says:

    I’ve been living this routine to death lately lol. I’ve always been a big water drinker but I’m starting to treat my lips a little more. Usually I just exfoliate and apply balm but I’ve been getting back into the habit of applying night treatments again and it makes such a big difference! I don’t have to exfoliate nearly as much and my lips are much softer too
    fancie recently posted … Milani Matte Passion Color Statement Matte Lipstick Review

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