How Do You Soothe Chapped Lips?

Published in: Just For Fun, Makeup Tips/How To


At a family barbecue a couple weeks ago I ate an obscene amount of mango (apparently too much mango). They’re one of my fave fruits, but they can also irritate my lips.


That’s because Mango contains a substance called urushiol (mostly in the tree’s sap, but there’s also a very small amount in the skin of the fruit), the same toxin found in poison ivy and poison oak!
Also see: source

For days after the BBQ my lips felt dry and peeled like mad. It was awful!

Coincidentally, reader Cari e-mailed asking for tips to soothe her peeling lips…

Hi Karen,

I enjoy reading your very informative blog everyday but I have a major, out of control problem that you haven’t covered!

I have big, beautiful plump lips but they peel EVERY DAY. Big ol’ gobs of cells that collect in the corners of my mouth. Ew.

I’ve tried Vaseline, Chapstick, coconut oil, every gloss imaginable but nothing seems to stop the sheds. You wanna know the most awful thing about it? They tend to peel a couple of hours after I’ve applied the prettiest lipgloss I own. FRUSTRATING!

So, I figure I need a lip exfoliator but I’m LOST (with Jack and Kate) when it comes to this. I’ve seen your gloss posts and you work your lips on the regular so you’ve gotta know something I don’t. Or maybe you’re just lucky. Either way, can you help a sista out? I’ll be sure to xoxo once I get this peeling thing under control!

Heya, Cari. Here are some things I do when my lips are chapped or dry:

Drink lots of water

I drink *hella* water. Not only does it help keep my skin clear, but it’s good for the “constitution” (LOL!) and even helps keep my lips from drying out. When I’m not drinking enough water, my lips will peel like cray-zaaaay!

I like to keep a water bottle next to me while I work and sip from it throughout the day.

Try a hydrating lip gloss

Not all gloss formulas are hydrating, and some are more moisturizing than others. A few of my favorite hydrating ones include Chanel Aqualumiere Glossimer ($27), Smashbox Limitless Long Wear ($21), MAC Lipgelle ($14) and Estee Lauder Tender Lip Balm ($14).

Try lip conditioner or lip butter

Lip conditioners and lip butters have a thinner formula than glosses but deliver rich hydration along with subtle color and shine. Two I always reach for are MAC Lip Conditioner in Gentle Coral ($15) and Korres Lip Butter in Plum ($9).

Slather up with one of these lip balms

Before applying lipstick or gloss, I’ll prep my lips with a layer of a hydrating balm about 10-15 minutes beforehand. Then, before bed, I’ll reach for a balm again.

Some lip balms tend to make matters worse, but here are two that have worked well for me: Philosophy Kiss Me in Clear ($12) and Clinique Superbalm Lip Treatment ($12).


Only when my lips are irritated or chapped, I’ll gently exfoliate once about every other day.

Tarte sells one I like called fRxtion ($11). It exfoliates and conditions at the same time. Plus, it comes in a travel-friendly lipstick tube that you can just pop in your purse.

My favorite things about it are how yummy it smells and tastes — like brown sugar. I have been tempted to nibble, ha! Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to chomp on it, too. πŸ™‚

Sometimes I’ll also exfoliate at night before bed, mixing olive oil, a teaspoon of honey, two teaspoons of white granulated sugar and a dash of lemon juice. I’ll apply the concoction with a finger or a toothbrush and *gently* rub on my lips.

Tenderonis, I know you’ve got a few beauty tricks up your sleeves. How do you soothe chapped lips, and what products do you use to keep your pucker looking and feeling soft?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Marina says:

    I always use vegetable oils and my lips NEVER feel or look dry. Balms are very easy to make at home, all you have to do is heat and mix oils and waxes you like. If you can’t bother to mix, shea and mango butters are wonderful alone.
    Also, honey works wonders, just apply it regularly on lips and leave for as long as you can without licking it off πŸ™‚

  2. Mariah says:

    I used to have dry, chapped lips CONSTANTLY! But I found my holy grail: MAC Lip Conditioner! Just the plain, old clear stuff in a pot. I put it on every night before bed, and I can still feel it protecting in the morning! And it has this gentle vanilla scent that soothes me to sleep!

  3. Faye says:

    Rub some Aquaphor on your lips every night before bed. I used to have super-chapped lips and this stuff works like a dream — my lips never chap or get dry now even in the coldest, most blustery weather.

  4. Toni says:

    Aquaphor worked wonders for me! My lips just had an allergic reaction to something recently (I’m still trying to decipher what caused the breakout) that caused my lips to swell. When the swelling went down, my lips dried up and flaked like crazy. I normally use chapstick or Burts Bees, but this did not help at all. One night, I couldn’t take it any longer, so I took my electric toothbrush and gently brushed off the dead skin. I then immediately slathered my lips with Aquaphor (not Vaseline!!!) in the evening and also in the morning. It is also the first thing I put on in the AM (yes, before I start my morning hair and make-up routine) and give it about an hour to re-hydrate my lips before lipstick-time. Good luck!

  5. You did NOT just say “Tenderonis” hahahahhaha!

    Ok I too have perpetually chapped lips and have my whole life. I think it’s from not drinking enough water and I have a tendency to lick my lips if I have nothing on them. My favorite lip stuff is Smith’s Rosebud Salve. I LOVE the scent, color and shine it gives to my parched pucker!
    .-= Vampy Varnish’s last blog post… OPI Spain Collection for Fall 2009 – Part II =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vampy Varnish,

      LOL… I used to have a pic of Bobbi Brown on my algebra binder. Don’t Be Cruel still moves me to this day.

      I use Rosebud Salve, too, but mostly to moisturize my cuticles.

  6. Shontay says:

    I use my wash cloth every morning to gently scrub off dead skin before apply lip products. I do the same at the end of the day after removing my lip product. I also put on a very thin layer of good old fashion vaseline.

  7. Indi says:

    an easy way to exfoliate lips is to use a lip balm stick and dip it in some granulated sugar and use that to “scrub” dead cells away when your lips are wet. it works like a charm. I always follow up with a lip butter afterwords to keep them moisturized.

    I’m a lip gloss junkie but I have become quite addicted to my Burt’s Bees honey lip balm. The C.O Bigelow Mentha lip glosses tend to be hydrating as well.

  8. jojoba says:

    brush off the dry and dead skin and pemper them with a good lip balm such as Aquphor or QV Lip Balm SPF20. Gotta protect them with SPF from the sun here.
    .-= jojoba’s last blog post… My Skincare Routine Updated =-.

  9. Beth says:

    I was going to say what Shontay said – a wash cloth works really well and it free. Another thing worth trying is putting on a layer of vaseline and then using an old toothbrush to buff the dead skin cells away.

    Another nice exfoliating product is the Body Shop’s Lip Scuff. It looks like a green lip balm but has all kinds of exfoliating and moisturising goodies in it.

    I’d also recommend Carmex lip balm for day to day use. I have a whole basket of different lip balms but Carmex is my go-to if my lips get chapped or sore. YouMy favourite is the mint one in a stick which is SPF30, super useful for protecting my lips from the sun’s nasties!
    .-= Beth’s last blog post… Video Blog Update =-.

  10. marmar says:

    Great article! Funny thing too, I was just lamenting how dry my lips are. Nothing worse than flaky lipstick.

    In terms of drugstore items on the cheap, Chapstick’s Overnight Treatment also works extremely well for just a couple bucks. Gives me soft, happy lips by the time I’m ready for work.

    tarte’s “fRxtion” btw, didn’t work for me at all. The product itself was like, an A+… but the way it’s packaged was pretty horrid (but cute!): not even a week after, the entire stick of balm broke off from the inside of the tube. Since then I’m still on the hunt for something that works as well but stays put (no more pop-up tubes for me.. I’d rather roll with the squeeze type packages). I’m def gonna pick up the Philosophy one this weekend!
    .-= marmar’s last blog post… why I (heart) Girls Generation =-.

  11. Megan says:

    The boyf bought me this lip exfoliator stuff from crabtree and evelyn that rocks. I use that…and oddly enough I follow that with some Clinique moisture surge, then a layer of chapstick, merle norman superlube, or blistex silk and shine. It always works for me.

  12. Citrine says:

    Plain old vaseline works well for me…(The lip exfoliator from mary kay works rather well too…my if I just soak my lips up with vaseline, the dead skin cell gets rubbed off as well.
    .-= Citrine’s last blog post… Beauty and the tape =-.

  13. Lindsey says:

    wow… i HAVE to know what lipcolor you’re wearing in the dead center picture. it’s amazinggg!!

  14. Karen4 says:

    I am a lip balm freak! I cannot go anywhere without a lippie or else I feel like my lips will dry up and fall off! LOL! However, I’ve discovered that some so called moisturizing lip balms don’t work for me. Sensitivity to some ingredients, including menthol, causes my lips to become even drier. Rosebud Lip Salve works great during the day as well as Chapstick’s lip moisturizer. For overnight treatment, I’ve found both Bourjois’ night lip balm (balm de nuit)which can be found at and Chapstick Overnight Lip Treatment (, are amazing. They actually stay on your lips for at least 8 hours while you sleep, and let you wake up to a moisturized pucker!

  15. star says:

    I have really peely lips as well, and I have found that most glosses and lipsticks just perpetuate the problem, regardless of however moisturizing they are supposed to be. I avoid most glosses for this reason, and I have resorted to tinted lip balms and such. I love the Fresh Sugar Lip Polish as well as the Jack Black one (Lemon & Chamomile).

  16. Nicole says:

    I have always had really dry lips that crack and peel and sometimes even bleed! Yeah, it is gross. I have finally found the solution. I use lanolin. It is an ingredient found in many lip balms, but I find it works best when used alone. I discovered this while I was breastfeeding my son. This is probably tmi, but the hospital gave me a tube of lanolin…well you can imagine what for. After all, chapped lips are just dry cracked skin, right? So I tried it on my lips, and it worked wonders! I just put it on at night and in the morning scrub my lips with a washcloth and it smoothes them right out. My sister swears by this now that I’ve shared it with her. The only downside is that it is not scented, but if you don’t mind that then give it a try! Try the Lansinoh brand lanolin. It can usually be found in the baby care isle.

  17. ines says:

    i’m a total lip product junkie… but here are tubes that i keep buying, even after straying for a bit…

    biotherm aquasource levres spf 8 (on my 4th tube)
    burt’s bees beeswax original formula – tube (on my 10th tube)
    clarins moisture replenishing lip balm (LOVE this at night – second tube because i only apply at night)
    nivea lip balm sun care spf 30 for the summer (a recent find)
    MAC tinted lip conditioner – fuchsia fix (second pot – there’s loads of product!)
    clnique superbalm tinted gloss – grapefruit, apricot (a recent find)

    i also make a homemade scrub with olive oil, unprocessed (raw) sugar, and a couple drops of essential oil like peppermint or lemon.

    what i do is i apply a thick balm like the clarins following exfoliation, and wipe it off in the morning with a tissue – et voila, soft lips!
    .-= ines’s last blog post… Top 5 – Office Beauty Emergency Kit =-.

  18. tatiana says:

    What’s crackin? My lips. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one that suffers from constantly dry lips, or that is how the feel anyway. I’m very picky with my lipglosses because they have to keep my lips hydrated and also have sufficient color pay off because my lips need all the pigment they can get.

    I found that if I mix too many lip products, that is when the flaking will happen.

    My favorite lip products so far:

    lip balm: Lipsyl (hella cheap at Walgreens & has SPF)
    tinted lip balm: MAC Gentle Coral, I had to try because of Karen!
    lipstick (Sheer): Avon Glazewear (I don’t think they carry it anymore…sad)
    lipstick (heavier in pigment): NYX (cheap and they’re creamy), MAC (I only only wear the Cremesheens, that is how dry I am), Benefit
    gloss: Smashbox Limitless, Bare Escentuals Buxom

    Oh and for scrub, I’ve been using the homemade, similar to Karen’s recipe, once a day

    Lipchap luvrs unite!

  19. redhead says:

    I just moisten a bunch of white sugar with a bit of honey and rub them with it like there’s no tomorrow! πŸ˜€ After that I lick it off and rinse whatever’s left with water. Good for the lips, good for the soul πŸ˜‰

  20. Tiera says:

    I love Lip Scuff from Body Shop! It’s a great exfoliator I use several times a month.

  21. TaLaisa says:

    I like burt’s bees for my lips and loreal hip lip jelly is a good one too.

    But I’m with ya on the water, I drink it like there’s gonna be a drought tomorrow. I like mine in a glass bottle with either lemon or peppermint essential oils in it. Delish and so good for me too.
    .-= TaLaisa’s last blog post… Happy Valentines =-.

  22. Kate & Zena says:

    The cheapest and most effective way I’ve found it is an item EVERYONE has at home—one clean washcloth and a tiny bit of water. Dampen washcloth. Rub against lips vigorously for about a minute or two with light or medium pressure. If you don’t like a washcloth, use a toothbrush. Your lips will turn a bit red but it really sloughs off dead skin.

    After I exfoliate, I swipe on Nivea’s A Kiss of Moisture lip balm on my lips (the holy grail of moisturizing lip balm). It’s best to do at night. I go through the Nivea lip balm like a weed. I love the stuff.

  23. Tiffany says:

    I love everyone’s suggestions! I really want to try those philosophy and clinique balms now!

  24. Ms. S says:

    I really love the BeautiControl lip products. Regeneration Gold Lip Therapy is a favorite! If my lips are split or sore, this makes them feel better right away! And the healing is amazing. They also have a Margarita lip scrub that I haven’t tried yet. If you don’t have a consultant, you can just order it online.

  25. Meream says:

    I just read everyone’s comments. I have chapped lips often, too. Will have search for this Aquaphor here.

  26. SusyLovesMac says:

    I use Mary Kay’s Satin Lips set. It brings the balm and exfoliating lip mask for $18 bucks! Both are in a tube form not stick, great deal and works like magic. I use the balm everyday and the lip mask at night time with my nightly skincare routine. I have full plump lips that ALWAYS get dry and start to flake, this has been the only thing that works for me! Check her out she’s a great consultant and gives FREE gifts every now and then..Yay πŸ™‚

  27. britt says:

    hey! whats the lipstick you’re wearing in the center of the collage? It’s gorgeous!

  28. Karen says:

    I used to have rough dry lips until I started wearing lip balm to bed every night. I keep a tube in my nightstand (right now it’s good ol cherry flavored Carmex) and put it on right before bed. I have been doing this for years and I haven’t had dry or peely lips since.

  29. Rennah says:

    Lately I’ve been using Alba Botanica’s Coconut Cream lip balm – it smells great & makes my lips really soft! + it’s organic!

  30. Susan says:

    I’m all about the Aquaphor, too. I use it every night before going to bed (keep it on my nightstand), and it works wonderfully well! However, I’ve found that this time of year it works better to keep it in the fridge, or you will have a nice Aquaphor liquid coming out of the tube, rather than a gel!

  31. savannah says:

    I don’t have any suggestions for cracked lips because I suffer from them myself with no cure, but I have to say that you are the only other person I’ve ever heard having this weird crazy fruit allergy thing! (I’m assuming, at least!) Mine started with apples, then progressed into just about everything except a few berries. Sometimes to the point that I wonder if my throat will close up! I had heard about a certain kind of pollen being the culprit from my doctor but never the poison oak likeness! So this post is doubly informative for me, thanks!!!

  32. lipbalm lover says:

    I’ve been on accutane, so I am an expert on peel-y lips. I use Labello lipcare, which is from Europe, but you can get the American version manufactured by Nivea. Get the Nivea lipbalm with the dark blue plastic case. It’s a little hard to find but sooooo worth it! It’s the only thing that got me through my accutane treatment. The first couple of times you use it it’s a little less creamy, but once you get through that inital layer it is the best lip balm in the entire world. I know, I’ve tried them all.

  33. Mary Valleau says:

    Karen, I leave a humongous bottle of aloe vera gel in the corner of the shower and apply it as I’m getting out. It not only heals but provides a good base for lipstick. XXOO

  34. C-Diff says:

    I’m normally not a fan of Clinique but the Superbalm kicks ass. I work out in the wind all winter and this stuff is really thick but not sticky, and I don’t have to reapply it fifty thousand times.

  35. Catherine says:

    My lips are not only very dry but I am also allergic to a bunch of things and my lips seem much more sensitive than any other part of my body. Aquaphor, Rosebud Salve and Burt’s Bees just aren’t enough for my chapped dry lips and I’ve tried SO many different things in the past 2-3 years. The treatments that I find work best for me are Dr. Hauschka’s Lip Care Stick and Physicians Formula Plump Potion. The Dr. Hauschka balm is good for rehydrating dry lips and the PF Plump Potion (strange as it seems) is actually the BEST peel I’ve ever found. Not only is it super moisturizing, it seems to gellify the hard, crusty, dead stuff so it just rubs off on my finger, no tearing, bleeding or irritation at all (albeit, a bit sticky). And the best everyday balm I’ve found is Soapalaya Soaps Green Tea Lip Butter (on etsy). Pretty comparable to Garden Botanika’s Vit E Lip stick, but at a fraction of the cost. I wrote a blog post w/ video on my lip treatments here: My Favorite Lip Treatments. HTH!
    .-= Catherine’s last blog post… FOTD – Fresh Purple and Pink (3 days in a row!) =-.

  36. Stephie says:

    I really like Nivea’s Kiss of Moisture balms. They are very lovely on the lips and smell like lemon cake πŸ˜›

    OMGSH. I never knew that thing about mangoes having urushiol. It makes a lot of sense because for the longest time growing up I thought I was allergic to mangoes because my throat would get very itchy after eating them. Guess that explains it. To this day I have to eat fresh mango like a grandma practically pureeing them in my mouth before I swallow πŸ˜›

  37. cloudburst says:

    I have the same problem, I have pretty big lips & they are constantly chapped – it doesn’t help that where I live we have very low humidty. My best advice is drink water, moisturizer before you go to bed, have a humidifier in your bedroom, and wear a lip balm underneath gloss (it helps seal in the moisture). I usually just exfoliate by rubbing my finger across my lips, but if they are really bad I will use a microfibre wash cloth with warm water. You can buy microfibre wash clothes in most drug stores.

  38. Anna says:

    I love Aquaphor, a great multi-tasker product, for my dry lips. Use it on my kids when they’re asleep.

    I also use a sugar, honey, green tea mask concoction on on my lips to exfoliate. Tastes better than the Aquaphor.

  39. Kitty says:

    I swear by Crazy Rumors’ lip balms. They’re all natural and vegan, and they work very well to soothe lips, especially if you warm them up a bit before use.

  40. Marisol says:

    I use Smith’s Rosebud Salve like crazy when my lips are chapped. Definitely helps!
    .-= Marisol’s last blog post… Kindle me this… =-.

  41. Lizzi says:

    One cool tip I read was to brush your lips with your TOOTHBRUSH of all things when your lips feel like they need an exfoliatin! I was skeptical but it really does work! Just follow up with a nice moisturizing lip balm after

  42. Sharene says:

    The same thing happens to me! I’ve started using Labbri Lip Treatment and I’m starting to believe this is the one I’ve been looking for. It goes on really light so it doesn’t leave a residue and works really well under gloss. It’s also all natural and makes my lips feel so nice. It’s a little more pricey than your typical lip balm but it’s well worth it. only has four ingredients and is the closest thing to a home remedy that really works. I purchased it from the Dermstore.

  43. Sophie says:

    Wow, so many good tips! What I do, is once or twice a day I take a wash cloth, wet it apply vaseline to my lips and scrub them gently with the cloth. Then, I put some regular moisturizer on my lips (that’s right, it’s not meant for lips!). It only takes a minute to absorb. My lips feel softer but they might still have some peeling spots, so I put on a thin layer of vaseline on them. Once that absorbs, if my lips still feel dry, or just to soften them up some more, I put more moisturizer on, followed by whatever lipstick or gloss I’m gonna wear. If you want a lipstick that hydrates your lips for cheap, I love Rimmel’s Moisture Renew Lipstick in shade 200 Latino, of course any shade will work but that lipstick is a really pretty one πŸ™‚

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