What You Need To Know Before Reaching For Your Lip Balm

Pucker up!

There's almost no greater annoyance than dry, chapped lips. 

Not only are they uncomfortable and unattractive, but they can quickly become painful when the skin cracks and bleeds.

For most people, this happens in the dead of winter or the midst of summer, when environmental factors like UV rays, wind, and dry air sap the moisture from lips and leaves them chapped. For others with certain medical conditions, it can be a constant battle to keep lips soft and moisturized.

But why do lips dry out faster than the rest of our skin? 

The secret science behind it is actually as plain as the lips on your face.

There are certain areas on the body that are especially sensitive: hands, feet, genitals, and lips. Lips are important for taking in food, making a variety of sounds while talking, and are one of the first ways that babies explore objects in the world around them. Their sensitivity also plays a role in why kissing is so nice to do. 

One downside to all of this sensitivity is that in order to have it, the lips lack a certain level of protection, compared to other skin on the face. This includes being several layers thinner with no way to provide moisture through sweat or other secretions, and no hair to protect from the elements. 

As Lissette from DNews explains, licking lips in order to moisten them with saliva has an opposite effect, as do certain ingredients in lip balms. That's right, some products actually speed up the drying out process, creating more of a dependency on it. Womp womp.

Ready for some more science about why lips get chapped? Check it out here:

What do you find works best to beat chapped lips? Let us know in the comments!

Cover image: Shutterstock