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Are your lips dry and chapped? You might want to think again before you reach for your favourite lip balm!

Depending on its ingredients, your lip balm might irritate your lips even further instead of hydrating and nourishing your lips.

To get to the bottom of this issue, we asked Dr Rachael Teo, a consultant dermatologist at Gleneagles Hospital, to weigh in on the subject.

Dr Teo specialises in areas of dermatology, such as the assessment of skin allergies, acne, and pigmentary disorders, and gave us some expert tips on how to treat dry lips!

So, read on to learn how to prevent and heal chapped lips and what to avoid in a lip balm so you can pick one that’ll give you the perfect pout!

Why Your Lips Are Dry

Credits: @zenzeta/Adobe Stock

Dry and chapped lips are a pretty common issue, which can be annoying to deal with and even painful at times!

“The skin on the lips is thinner and more sensitive, and at risk of becoming dry and chapped”, says Dr Teo.

According to her, “triggers such as sun exposure, wind, dry environments, or reactions from chemicals in the products that come into contact with our lips” can all cause chapped lips (known as cheilitis in medical terms).

More rarely, nutritional deficiencies can also cause cheilitis, so make sure to look out for factors like these environmental stressors when trying to heal your lips!

If your lips look crusty, are bleeding excessively, or have blisters, Dr Teo suggests that you make an appointment with a dermatologist, as your lips may be infected and require further professional treatment.

How To Prevent Dry Lips

Credits: @dimaberlin/Freepik

Want to save yourself from horribly chapped lips? To prevent this unsightly and uncomfortable phenomenon, remember to apply lip balm regularly.

Dr Teo shares that applying lip balm three to four times a day is sufficiently hydrating with the right product.

Plus, keep your hands to yourself! As tempting as it is, make sure you don’t pick at the peeling skin, and try not to lick your lips excessively, to avoid further drying out your lips.

How To Choose Your Lip Balm

Credits: @rawpixel.com/Freepik

Unfortunately, all this effort might be for nothing if you don’t have the right product for your lips. After all, if your lip balm doesn’t work, you might end up actively making your lips worse!

To identify how effective your lip balm is, Dr Teo advises keeping an eye out for chapped lips and monitoring whether your skin condition is improving at all.

If your cheilitis isn’t resolved despite regularly applying lip balm, if you experience a burning or stinging sensation, or if your lips turn red and swollen, it’s best to stop using the lip balm altogether.

Credits: @dimaberlin/Freepik

Feeling betrayed by your lip balm? You might be allergic to common lip balm ingredients such as menthol and camphor.

“They give a cooling sensation which is meant to act as an anaesthetic”, explains Dr Teo, but these ingredients may actually do more harm than good!

According to Dr Teo, you should instead look out for lip balms that are fragrance-free, flavour-free, and hypoallergenic so that they’ll be safe for the thin skin of your lips.

She recommends ointment-based lip balms, which contain ingredients like petroleum jelly. She advises that we avoid lip balms with ingredients that could potentially irritate the lips more, like menthol, lanolin, and camphor.

Plus, in light of our sweltering weather, Dr Teo suggests going for an SPF-infused lip balm to protect your lips from harmful UV rays!

Lip Slugging


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♬ Cool Kids (our sped up version) – Echosmith

If lip balms alone aren’t doing the trick, you might want to try out a trending technique known as lip slugging!

Similar to slugging for your skin, a trend started by Korean beauty enthusiasts, lip slugging involves DIY-ing your very own lip mask before bed, which is said to help you wake up to softer lips.

The trend involves using your favourite hydrating skincare products to pamper your lips with some much-needed extra moisture!

Users suggest applying your favourite hyaluronic acid serum to damp lips, then locking in the moisture with a moisturiser or even Vaseline overnight.

Dr Teo believes lip slugging is likely to work for mild cheilitis, but cautions that she hasn’t come across medical studies to support the efficacy of this technique.

Still, Dr Teo shares that it’s “generally safe to apply facial products like moisturisers on lips, provided they don’t contain any irritating ingredients”. So, it may just be worth a shot, as long as you’re using safe products!

Featured image credits: @rawpixel.com/Freepik, @zenzeta/Adobe Stock.