6 Steps Every Natural Lip Care Routine Should Include

Treehugger / Julie Bang

Though lips are often left out of the traditional skincare routine, they too are made of skin, and they require a certain degree of maintenance. Chemical-packed balms and lipsticks wreak havoc on the mouth margin, as do nutrient deficiencies and—of course—dehydration. It's important to pamper and protect this particularly sensitive bit of epidermis with a clean, natural, and all-inclusive lip care routine, which can be developed using simple and common pantry ingredients.

A good lip care routine entails periodic exfoliation, daily sun protection, a healthy diet, and, above all, an optimal water intake. Many lip care products on the market today are counterintuitive to their missions, packed with parabens, petroleum, alcohol, and other toxins that dry out skin rather than nourish it. Here's a comprehensive lip care routine that uses all natural products. 

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Exfoliate Lips Regularly

hand holds diy mixture of coconut oil and brown sugar as natural lip exfoliation

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Like other dry patches of skin, parched and flaky lips benefit from a good scrub now and again. Exfoliation can help remove some of the dryness and bring forth a healthy underlayer that's naturally shiny and supple. This step is only necessary for dry lips and should be performed one to three times per week—not every day. Too much exfoliation can exacerbate dry skin.

Make a basic homemade lip scrub by combining one part sugar—brown or white is fine, but brown is less abrasive—and one part nourishing oil such as coconut, jojoba, avocado, or sweet almond. 

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Use an Overnight Lip Mask

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

After exfoliating, about once a week, apply an overnight lip mask to lock in hydration and pump that fresh, new skin with nutrients.

Popular kitchen ingredients worthy of DIY mask-making include celebrated humectants honey and coconut oil, biotin-rich mashed avocado, and muddled cucumber, rich in antioxidants. For the simplest concoction, mix together equal parts coconut oil and honey.

Note that while aloe vera gel and Greek yogurt are sometimes included in DIY lip mask recipes, these ingredients are natural exfoliators—thanks to the presence of enzymes and lactic acid, respectively—and should not be used following a scrub.

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Avoid Products With Harsh Chemicals

woman applies all-natural homemade lip balm to lips with fingers

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Conventional lip products typically include ingredients that make skin even drier: parabens, artificial dyes and flavors, chemical sunscreens, and so forth. One of the most ubiquitous is petrolatum—aka petroleum jelly—derived from crude oil. Even the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends petroleum jelly for lips despite it sometimes containing nasty oil rig residue—not to mention that crude oil is a nonrenewable resource.

You can make your own lip balm by mixing two tablespoons of shea butter with three tablespoons of beeswax pellets (or melted candelilla wax), and four tablespoons of coconut, grapeseed, or sweet almond oil. Instead of applying toxic lipsticks, use a natural tint like beet juice that will help keep lips healthy and hydrated.

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Don't Skip Sunscreen

woman in floral dress squeezes out sunscreen from bottle to finger to apply

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Like skin on the rest of your body, lips are susceptible to sun damage. Leaving them unprotected could increase your risk of skin cancer and cause the collagen in your lips to break down, potentially compromising their plumpness and fullness.

It's important to avoid SPF-spiked balms that could be laden with harsh chemicals, though. Instead, select a reef-safe mineral sunscreen designed for the face. If you prefer to make your own balm, many fruit and vegetable oils—including almond, avocado, coconut, and olive—contain UV filters. Note that most citrusy essential oils (lemon, lime, and grapefruit included) are mildly phototoxic and shouldn't be worn in the sun.

What Is Phototoxicity?

A phototoxic substance is one that makes skin especially susceptible to damage upon exposure to UV light. It could cause skin to blister or sunburn easily.

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Stay Hydrated

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Dry, chapped lips are one of the most obvious signs of dehydration. When your body is low on water, it will pull from all parts of your body, including your intestines and your skin.

Drink the recommended six to eight glasses of fluid per day to avoid a parched pout, and avoid licking lips when they're dry—your saliva contains enzymes that can cause the outer layer of skin to break down and leave them even more exposed.

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Maintain a Healthy Diet

overhead view of healthy spinach salad with almonds on white plate with fork

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Malnourishment can also affect lip health. That's because nutrients help to protect the skin against environmental factors and assist in the healing process. B vitamins are especially good at guarding against skin disorders.

Make sure you're eating a well-rounded diet and meeting the daily recommended amount of zinc, iron, B vitamins, and antioxidants. Avoid foods that are acidic, salty, and spicy that could irritate dry lips further. Speak to a doctor if you suspect your lip dryness could be linked to a health condition.

View Article Sources
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  6. "Art of prevention: Practical interventions in lip-licking dermatitis." International Journal of Women's Dermatology. 2020.

  7. "Role of vitamin B6 in skin health and diseases." Handbook of diet, nutrition and the skin. 2012.