Somehow, I thought I'd avoid it this year. It was already the second week of January, and I didn't have a single sign of dry, cracked lips. Sure, the weather was unseasonably warm in New York City, but I thought that maybe, just maybe, I'd grown out of my yearly winter lip crisis: Parched, helpless lips that can do nothing but dry out, crack up, and bleed.
But then, as soon as I arrogantly considered myself spared, it happened: I got the winter sniffles, and my lips succumbed to the side effects of mouth-breathing while sleeping in cold, dry air. Overnight, they had transformed from the plump, relatively kissable entities that they once were to shriveled up old prunes stuck sadly to my face, shrieking in pain any time I opened my mouth.
Luckily, I have more than a few remedies for this situation — remedies that I've carried with me over my 30 years of annual lip crises. The key to keeping your lips healthy during the winter months is all about knowing which products to choose, and these nine are my absolute favorites. From scented to unscented, medicated to SPF-ed, there's something in here for everyone. Winter is your lips' worst enemy: Choose your weapon and prepare for battle.
1. The Mom-Approved Classic
My mom has always carried around approximately 32 tubes of this in her purse at any given time. As a kid, I thought it was weird, and I refused to use it because it was "too burny." Now, as an adult, I understand her motivations: This Chapstick formula is medicated, meaning it works to actually heal your wounded lips instead of just temporarily coating them with moisture — not to mention the fact that the burning actually feels kind of good.
2. The Drugstore Fave
It's amazing, it's cheap, and it's available everywhere — in other words, you can't go wrong by tossing a couple of tubes of this into your desk and purse this winter.
3. The Classic Repair-All
This stuff really does live up to its promise of baby-soft lips. It also works surprisingly well as a primer before lipstick — just make sure to blot first.
4. The Old Standby
There's a reason that this Kiehl's balm is such a number one bestseller. It's affordable, it doesn't burden itself with fussy scents, and the main ingredient is petroleum, which serves to lock in your lips' natural moisture and protect them from the elements.
5. The Organic Miracle Worker
I use this product on my cuticles and my lips, and its moisturizing properties work well on both. This product goes on particularly smooth, and doesn't leave your lips feeling greasy.
6. The Almighty Scrub
Exfoliating your lips is particularly important when it comes to removing dead skin and prepping for treatment. This sugar lip polish is simply amazing, as it contains moisturizing ingredients that condition the lips while buffing the dead skin away. An important note: If your lips are already cracked and bleeding, it's best to hold off on using an exfoliant until they heal.
7. The Heavy Hitter
I only recently discovered this balm after getting a sample of it from Sephora, and it's proving itself to be one of my favorites. The mint is cooling without being too intense for delicate, raw lips, and the shea butter formula is more silky than sticky.
8. The Kiss From A Rose
People rave about the Rosebud Perfume Co. Rosebud Salve, but let's not forget this formula from Peter Thomas Roth. Though you can only get this rose balm in a travel trio (which I also highly recommend), the formula is fast-absorbing and effective; a hard rose balm with just a touch of mint.
9. The Overnight Miracle
When everything else has failed me and the dry air is unrelenting, I settle in for a good night's sleep with Bite's Agave Lip Mask smeared all over my lips and the skin that surrounds them. This stuff works miracles, and after just one use, the moisture levels of my lips has dramatically improved. It's not cheap, but it is so, so worth it, especially when you feel like you've run out of options.
These are my favorite products to keep my lips looking and feeling healthy throughout these upcoming harsh weather months. If you've got lip issues, pick up a few of these and see how fast you can perk up your pout.
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Images: Fotolia (1); Courtesy Brands