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Posted on 07/31/2018
Why Moisturize Your Lips? By: Karla Frazier, D.M.D.

Why Moisture Your Lips?

LIPS!  Soft, supple, kissable, luscious, lips!!!  Wait, we talking about moisturizing them, right?  Yes.  But, the only way I see that we can talk about that is to understand more about them.

Our lips have many different functions.  They are the doors to our digestion and aid in our digestion.  They protect our teeth from the outside elements to help them not dry out.  Our lips assist us in expression of emotions.  Curl the corners up and you are express happiness; turn them down and you express sadness; smirk and express annoyance; do nothing and express indifference.  Protrude them to help express sulking or affection.  They assist in our communication by helping you form sounds for words and even control air flow for whistling. By parting them, you can change your breathing.  Because of the many nerve endings within our lips, they are also useful tactile organs, helping us determine when foods and liquids are hot  or cold before entering our mouth.  For that same reason, our lips are also an erogenous zone...very sensitive to touch.  That's handy when you are feeling amorous!

What causes our lips become dry, chapped and cracked?  Several factors can contribute to this condition.  Chapped, dry or cracked lips is an indicator that we don't have enough moisture or oil in or on our lips.  Many factors can lead to this condition. 


Environmental conditions like wind, extreme cold weather and excessive sun exposure can dry out our skin.  Dehydration and malnutrition (eg. Vit B deficiency) will cause our lips to dry out and become more friable.  Salty, spicy and citrus foods will cause chapping of your lips. Excessive licking of our lips will also cause our lips to become dry and chapped.  Being a mouth breather will cause drying of the lips and mouth.  Some medications like retinoids, chemo, and lithium, and soaps can also cause dry and chapped lips.  Smoking can also cause dry and chapped lips.  An extreme form of our lips cracking is called cheilitis.  This condition is dry, cracked skin at the corners of the mouth.  This condition is caused by a fungal infection due to medications or even dental issues.  Allergies can also be the culprit.  Some symptoms include flaky skin, swelling, redness, sores, scaly skin, bleeding and cracks.

Our lips should not crack or become dull and dry looking when we smile or use them for their many functions.  If they become dry, chapped and cracked, it can be extremely painful and make function much more difficult. This is why it is important that we take care of our lips.  Here are a few things we can do to restore moisture to our lips and keep them soft, supple, kissable, and most importantly...healthy.

  1. Make sure you are drinking an adequate amount of water daily to stay hydrated and watch your diet.  
  2. Be sure to have regular dental and medical check ups to ensure you do not have a condition that can cause these problems.  Also, inform your dentist and physician of any medicines you might be taking, including over the counter medications (like allergy medicines).
  3. Exfoliate your lips and use lip balms with a minimum of SPF 15, natural oils like shea butter, coco butter, almond oil, coconut oil or olive oil, or lip sticks and lip glosses with skin conditioning oils in them (eg. Vit E, aloe vera, honey, bees wax) periodically during the day, before bed, and especially when out in extreme weather conditions.  Good old petroleum jelly is another alternative lip moisturizer that works really well too.
  4. Stop smoking!  Not only will help you keep your lips hydrated, it will decrease your chances of developing lip cancer and oral cancer.
  5. Stop licking your lips!  Saliva dries rapidly causing your lips to dry out faster.  Apply lip balms and oils instead of your saliva.
  6. Did I mention hydrate?

Do these things and you will keep your lips luscious, soft and healthy!  Happy smooching!

​By:  Karla Frazier, D. M. D.