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Although a very small part of our body, lips play an essential role in our life and in our well being. Thanks to them, we eat, we speak, we smile and… we kiss. Let’s also not forget that with your nose and eyes, they are one of the first things people see when they first meet you. From this simple fact, it seems pretty normal to give them the attention they deserve! Discover how to take care of your lips and my favorite remedy for winter: castor oil for chapped lips.
In this article:
- Lips 101
- Where do cracks and other discomforts come from?
- Daily care
- DIY: Homemade lip balm
Lips 101: know the basics
Despite their primary role, our lips are extremely fragile. Unlike other parts of our body that have a self-protection ability (by secreting sebum or sweat), lips do not have an outer protection layer and therefore are susceptible to becoming chapped. The overlying skin is very fine because it is only made of 4 to 5 cellular layers when the rest of your face is actually made of almost 20 dermal layers. Finally, as one can easily notice, lips contain very few melanocytes, those cells responsible for skin coloration. This makes it impossible to “get a tan” on your lips and they are consequently very sensitive to ultraviolet rays.
The only natural protection for your lips is a thin layer of fat that we need to protect on a daily basis. This layer frequently needs to be renewed and reinforced.
Cracks, discomfort…where does it come from?
When lips are burned or not hydrated enough, the fatty protection layer disappears and the drying process starts, quickly leading to the formation of cracks. Small unsightly dead skins decorate our smile and, very often, detach themselves to leave room for deeper cracks. Beyond the unsightly aspect, the cracks become uncomfortable and painful, each stretching of the lips leading to a new micro-tear.
The most frequent reason why lips get damaged is the long exposure to cold and dry air. On the one hand, you can blame the winter weather, snow storms and icy windy temperatures. On the other hand you can also blame your poorly tuned air conditioning or excessive heating. Those modern threats may also cause severe damage to our lips.
Hereditary factors are also to be considered. A person with fragile and sensitive skin, for example, subject to eczema or acne, will be more disposed to the formation of cracks.
The very frequent “tic” which consists in licking your lips very often is another reason for their dryness. Saliva is the enemy. Its initial role is to prepare foods for digestion when they are inside the mouth; When it is placed on our lips, it naturally irritates them with the aim of “ingesting” them, which is certainly not your intention!
Rhinitis, sinusitis and all other forms of “stuffy nose” causing us to breathe through the mouth cause chapping. We have all noticed how dry our lips are when we have a cold, it is simply because we breathe through the mouth, making the repeated passage of air on our lips dry up our nonglandular mucous membranes.
Finally, all products that touch our lips can cause allergic reactions causing chapping. Thus, an inappropriate toothpaste, a mouthwash that does not suit us or a lipstick of poor quality can be the cause of a photodermitis as soon as our lips are exposed to daylight and sun. Chapped lips are the immediate consequence of such epidermal reactions.
Daily routine for soft and supple lips
The first thing to do is to try to reduce the aforementioned trigger factors when possible:
- Try to avoid licking them too often;
- Use an air humidifier to prevent drying of the lips;
- Apply a lip balm when going outdoors and put some on as often as necessary during the day.
It is also recommended to regularly scrub your lips gently with an old toothbrush; this will facilitate the penetration of the protective fatty substances which we use. The lip scrub can be done in several ways, using a toothbrush is just one way.
In the video below, you will learn how to make your own DIY lip scrub out of sugar, honey, and jojoba oil. There are different recipes you can use depending on what you like!!
See below for my own DIY lip scrub recipe (Works like charm I love it…especially with this Dutch cold weather!)
To never be caught off guard, it is also very important to always have a lip balm in your pocket or purse. There are many different types of lip balms, but homemade lip balm remains by far the most effective and most budget friendly. Each one of you will find the recipe that suits you best in the course of your experiments, but we do have a little preference. 😉
Castor oil for chapped lips DIY: my homemade lip balm
A simple recipe to put in a stick. You will get about 8 lip balms with this recipe.
- 3 tablespoons castor oil
- 1 tablespoon of beeswax
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 5 drops of essential oil of your choice
Mix the first 3 ingredients in a suitable container and melt in a bain marie. Mix well. When the mixture is homogeneous, remove from the heat and mix with the essential oil before pouring into your empty sticks (you can find a cute, colorful pack of empty lip balm containers here!)
To make yourself an elaborate recipe that will give you 15 sticks of lip balm, you will need:
- 28g of infused chamomile oil (macerate in a glass jar of sunflower oil with chamomile leaves dried for 4 weeks in a cupboard, stirring occasionally)
- 14g castor oil;
- 4g of shea butter;
- 14g of beeswax.
Ideally, having a scale is very useful here, but it is also quite possible to do without; just keep in mind that a tablespoon of oil is equivalent to about 10/12g, and that a spoon of wax weighs more or less 10g.
When you are done, just place everything in a heat-proof container and cook / melt the whole mix in the bain marie by carefully monitoring the process.
When the balm is ready, after removing the pan from the fire, you only have to pour it into tubes and wait for it to cool before placing on the cap.
With these tips and this natural remedy against the chapped lips, you are ready for several weeks of perfectly hydrated and protected lips! Good luck!