Let’s Take Care of That
There are steps you can take to give your lips and skin the care and protection they deserve. Check out the info below. Much of the lip information is drawn from our expert-created The Little Lip Book.
Anyone who’s had one knows the danger signs: First, a prickling sensation, then tenderness, and then a full-blown blister.
Commonly known as cold sores or fever blisters, the official name is herpes simplex (HSV-1), and it is a recurring viral infection that up to 90% of the U.S. has been exposed to. And it’s not your imagination: Once you get a cold sore, it does return in the same place over and over again. That’s because the virus takes up residence in the nerve that was first exposed to it.
There are many reasons a cold sore could return: stress, menstruation, sun exposure, trauma, sensitivities or dietary changes. And once it comes back, it can take up to a week to heal—or even longer. Using a gentle, extra-hydrating lip balm can offer fast symptom relief and good moisturization, especially if the formula includes petrolatum, which helps prevent cracking plus creates a protective barrier over the tender spot. For pain relief, make sure the product contains an analgesic.
Rough, dry skin is more than a nuisance—it looks dull and flaky, can cause chronic itchiness, leaves you vulnerable to infections, and makes you all-around miserable.
Your surroundings have a lot to do with the moisture content of your skin; if you spend a lot of time in heated environments in the winter, or in air conditioning in the summer, you’re subjecting your skin to air that’s extra dry, causing naturally occurring moisture on the surface of your skin to evaporate away.
Since your epidermis (the exposed layer of your skin) tends to match the humidity level of your surroundings, you can ease dry skin by turning on a humidifier. Other causes of dry skin are aging and frequent use of soap and hot water. Be mindful of water temperature when you wash your hands, and take short, not-too-hot showers to preserve natural moisturizers. You can also reduce dryness and promote healing by using a fast-acting, long-lasting lotion that’s formulated to add hydration as well as seal in moisture.
If your skin gets excessively dry, there’s the possibility of chronic cracking and roughness, especially if you’re genetically inclined to dryness, if there are allergens that exacerbate the problem, or if you don’t start pampering your skin the moment these danger signs appear: itchiness, redness, cracking and tenderness. Some parts of your body are more vulnerable to extreme dryness, such as hands, knees, elbows and feet.
Using a deep-penetrating, intensive product including ingredients such as petrolatum and lanolin helps healing as it provides a protective barrier: first, it keeps dry air away from sensitive skin and preserves natural moisture, and then second, it adds hydration through soothing ingredients.
Research has proven time and again that sunburns can cause cancer, even decades in the future. So while using sunscreen and avoiding midday UV rays have become second nature for many people, not everybody automatically reaches for broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) lip balm. Yet, it’s one of the most important things you can do to preserve your body’s overall health.
Lip balms with broad spectrum SPF of 15 or more can decrease the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun. These lip balms can also help prevent chapped lips that can occur from sun exposure. SPF measures the level of UVB protection, with higher numbers indicating greater protection.
If you are spending time in the sun, it’s important that you use a lip balm that offers broad spectrum protection, with both UVA and UVB coverage. The sun’s UV rays are made up of multiple wavelengths; UVA and UVB are two that can cause premature skin aging and cancers. UVA rays are particularly dangerous, as they can penetrate clouds and glass and comprise up to 95% of the radiation your skin is exposed to. That’s why experts recommend using sun-protective balm year round, even on overcast days. And although they’re less prevalent, UVB rays are the ones that cause skin to turn red and burn, so don’t be shy about applying—and re-applying—that full-spectrum lip balm, each and every day.
For more details about UVA and UVB, read "The Little Lip Book."
It’s estimated that you’ll walk the equivalent of three times around the world in your lifetime, so you’ll want to keep those feet in good shape for the journey. If you suffer from rough, dry or cracked feet and heels, it may be caused by overlong hot showers, standing for long periods, the dry winter months, or the natural decrease in skin oils as you age. Changing into fresh socks and wearing comfortable shoes can help promote healthy feet. Try taking shorter, cooler showers and periodically use a pumice stone to remove rough calluses. Be sure to use a moisturizing product immediately after bathing and also at bedtime to ease dryness overnight.