Have you noticed something happening to your lips? The minute the central heating goes on, it starts to sap every last drop of moisture from our lips – and they start to feel a touch too tight for our faces. (This is even before the winds start to whip in from Siberia.) And I don’t know about you, but I want my lips to be smooth and soft as possible this season: the perfect ‘canvas’ for all of the deep wine/red tones hitting the beauty counters right about now. (You could equally go down the ‘nude’ route – it’s one of those seasons when neutral lips are fashionable – but I honestly think you’ve got to be Claudia Winkleman to carry that off.
Once or twice a week, gently exfoliate lips. You can do this with a damp, warm flannel; press it onto lips to soften the skin for a few minutes, then buff lips lightly with the washcloth. You can, alternatively, make a ‘lip exfoliator’ with a few grains of sugar in a drop of olive oil, and massage softly into lips.
Don’t ever pick at flakes. Exfoliating, as above, is the secret to maintaining smooth lips – but if you actively pull at a flake of skin, it invariably also peels away the healthy skin at the base of the flake – which can be really sore.
‘Moisturise’ from within. Remember too that dry, chapped lips are a response to dry conditions in your body, as well as in your surroundings. So to keep your lips silky-smooth be sure to stay hydrated. Keep your internal reservoir topped up with two litres of water sipped throughout the day, and you may not find you need to reach for the ‘comfort blanket’ of your lip balm, quite so often.
Don’t ever put lipstick on dry, chapped lips. They’ll just look like red (or pink) woodchip! If you do have flaky lips, lip gloss is much more forgiving, texture-wise.
The key with lip balms is to swipe on before lips get uncomfortable. Once lips feel tight and dry, they may already have begun to crack – so prevention is better than cure. This may mean investing in quite a few balms and, for instance, keeping one beside the bed, one in your handbag, and even one in each of your outdoor coats. (As they tend to be very affordably-priced, this isn’t a huge beauty investment – but it pays beauty dividends.)
And for me, there really is only one lip balm. Cue shameless plug (and I don’t care): The Beauty Bible Lip Balm is the one I’ve just stashed in all my coat pockets, and put centre-stage on my desk. Sarah Stacey and I always swore we’d never create our own skincare, but when VH’s wondrous Gill introduced us to this, we had to share it with the world. It’s rich in Vitamin E and Aloe and I plan to remain slavishly devoted to it from here to eternity. (And it’s become a VH bestseller, so I’m clearly not alone!)
And PS: give your lips a workout. While you’re focusing on this area, why not give it a bit of a workout, too? One of the biggest laments I hear from women (especially of ‘a certain age’) is that lips start to get thinner. Now, I happen to know that facial exercises really work (and slavish devotees of people like Eva Fraser, Carole Maggio and Marie-Véronique Nadeau are testament to that) but let’s get real, here: I’ve never found the time in my busy life to do them. But the one thing I DO do is to say my vowels – a-e-i-o-u – with great extravagance, so that I can really feel the pull in the face and neck while doing so. Repeat a few times. Making a habit of anything like this is needed, of course, rather than just doing it when you remember. (Although the exercise will also help reduce jaw tension, even as a one-off.)