the best ingredients to treat chapped lips

It’s already starting.

The past couple of days have been unusually sunny and warm in London, so bae and I had grabbed the opportunity to enjoy the last few romantic walks in the park before the colder winter weather turns me into a hermit (did I mention I HATE the cold?).

As we were making our way to our flat last night, my lips felt funny. Dry. Uncomfortable. Like they needed an extra layer of lip balm.

Yep. My lips are getting chapped. It always happens at this time of the year. To add insult to injury, half of the lip balms in my stash become useless.

Truth bomb: what keeps your lips soft and kissable when all’s good isn’t necessarily moisturising enough to treat chapped lips. So, what is?

Here are the best ingredients to look for in lip balms to treat chapped lips (and keep them from coming back):

Why Do You Get Chapped Lips In Winter?

Before we get started, have you ever wondered why your lips ALWAYS get chapped in winter – even when the rest of your face is oilier than a shiny, frying pan?

Your lips are different from the rest of your skin. Here’s what I mean:

  1. Thinner: lip skin is thinner than face and body skin. So thin, its protective barrier doesn’t stand a chance against the colder winter weather, freezing temperatures and unrelenting winds.
  2. No pores: unlike the rest of your skin, lips don’t have pores. Without pores, sebum (your skin’s natural moisturiser) can’t reach your lips and keep them soft and supple.

Anatomy lesson over. Now that you know why the cold winter weather is so harsh on your pout, let’s focus on what ingredients you need to treat chapped lips:

Best Ingredients To Treat Chapped Lips

1. Lanolin

Lanolin. Wool fat. Wool wax.

Call it whatever you like, it’s the greasy substance sheep produce to waterproof their body and protect them from harsh weather.

It does the same thing for humans. Lanolin creates a barrier on the skin that keeps moisture in, so it can’t evaporate into thin air and dry out your lips. It’s super moisturising and easily treats even the most chapped of lips.

But, wait, does lanolin have a bad rep? Yep, and a totally undeserved one at that.

Ok, maybe it was deserved 50 years ago. Back then, farmers had just started using pesticides on a wider scale and some of them ended up in lanolin.

These days, things are different. All those pesticides and other allergens are removed during the purification process. The chances of lanolin now causing an allergic reaction are very, very low. Phew!

P.S. No sheep are harmed in the collection of lanolin.

Best Pick:

Related: Is Lanolin Bad For Skin?

2. Shea Butter

Shea butter is a godsend for dry, chapped skin.

Derived from the nut of the Shea tree, Shea butter is loaded with moisturising fatty acids, including oleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and linolenic acid.

These fatty acids create a barrier on the skin that slows down water loss. Word on the street is that it does this way better than mineral oil (what derms still consider the gold standard for moisturization).

The other reason Shea butter is better than mineral oil? Mineral oil only acts as a shield. Shea butter has nourishing nutrients that deeply moisturise skin + antioxidants to prevent premature aging. Win win.

Best picks:

  • Drunk Elephant Lippe ($18.00/£15.00): available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
  • Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 Shea Butter & Vitamin E (£7.50): available at Dermstore, Sephora and Ulta
  • La Roche Posay Cicaplast Levres Barrier Repairing Balm (£6.00): available at Feel Unique

Related: La Roche Posay Cicaplast Levres Barrier Repairing Balm Full Review

la roche posay cicaplast levres repairing balm

3. Natural Oils

Let’s get one thing straight: when I say natural oils, I mean non-fragrant essential oils.

If your lip balm has citrus oils, peppermint oil, geranium oil and all those goods smelling oils, chances are it’ll make your chapped lips worse. Fragrance is drying and irritating – even when it’s natural.

But non-fragrant oils? That’s just what the doctor ordered to treat chapped lips. These oils are rich in moisturising fatty acids and free radicals scavenging antioxidants, an unbeatable combination that moisturises your lips and prevents premature aging – at the same time.

Antioxidants help you boost the sun protection of your lip balm too. They work by neutralising free radicals generated by the sun.

FYI, that doesn’t mean you can skip SPF (more on this soon). They just give your SPF a helping hand.

So what are the best natural oils to treat chapped lips? Here are a few to look for on the label:

  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Sweet almond oil

Best picks:

Related:Why You Should Add Olive Oil To Your Skincare Routine

4. SPF

Did you know that UVA rays can penetrate through clouds and windows and even be reflected on snow?

It doesn’t really matter if you can’t see the sun. Until it goes down for the night, your lips aren’t safe from its UV rays.

They hit your lips, unseen, causing all kinds of damage. They thin your lips, dry out your skin and give you wrinkles. Ugh.

During the day, opt for a lip balm with SPF to keep your pout safe from UV harm and moisturised to boot.

Best Picks:

  • Coola Liplux SPF 30 Original ($12.00): available at iHerb and Ulta
  • Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 Shea Butter & Vitamin E (£7.50): available at Dermstore, Sephora and Ulta
  • Paula’s Choice Lipscreen SPF 50 ($10.00): available at Paula’s Choice

Related: Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 Shea Butter & Vitamin E Full Review

The Bottom Line

The best ingredients to treat chapped lips are natural oils and butters that deeply moisturise lips, SPF that keeps you from UV harm and antioxidants that boost sun protection. Look for them in the ingredient list.

What are your fave lip balms to treat chapped lips? Share your fave picks in the comments below.