Here’s How to Prevent Cracked Hands & Lips This Winter Season

They work the hardest, so why aren’t they getting just as much as love as your face?!
BY Sarah Lim
| Last updated Apr, 2023
Dry cracking hands

You’re constantly using your hands and lips. You eat, drink, pucker, write, type, pick things up, open the mail, the list goes on! With dry, cold air combined with indoor heat and winter temps, exposed skin can crack and bleed. Yikes! So, it’s important to know how to avoid chapped lips and dry cracking hands throughout the winter.

When it comes to dry skin, prevention is better than trying to restore skin that’s already been damaged. However, both prevention and restoration are important parts of keeping your skin silky smooth this winter.

Here’s how to prevent chapped lips and dry cracking hands so your skin can stay moisturized, comfortable, and beautiful all winter long. 

Why Do Hands and Lips Get So Dry in the Winter?

There are a few culprits behind why hands and lips get so dry in the wintertime.

Low humidity is one factor. During the colder, drier months, the humidity in the air plunges can lead to more moisture loss from the skin. Low humidity can even contribute to wrinkle formation. 

Surprisingly, both cold, dry air outside and warm, dry air inside can cause skin to become dry. Combine cold and dry air with wind, and you have a recipe for dry skin on your hands. Often, people don’t cover their hands or face when going outside in the wintertime. That can make these exposed areas even more at risk for dryness and cracking.

Another factor in dry cracking hands and chapped lips is your skin barrier. Your skin barrier is the layer of proteins and fats that makes up the top layer of your skin. Although the skin barrier is permeable, which means it can absorb your face skincare products. The skin barrier is designed to protect the skin from damage, such as dry skin.

When your skin barrier is compromised, which can happen when you let the skin get too dry, use harsh products or otherwise strip the protective oils off your skin, your skin can quickly feel dry, tight, and even crack. Your skin barrier also responds to seasonal temperature changes. People who have sensitive or dry skin are even more likely to experience symptoms of cracked lips and hands in the winter.

How to Prevent Cracked Hands and Lips

Moisturizer is one of the best ways to protect your skin barrier and prevent dry skin, including chapped lips and hands. Ideally, you would keep skin moisturized before it starts to become dry and tight, which can help prevent further damage to the skin barrier.

You can also wear gloves when you go outside to prevent dry cracking hands, and if you struggle with chapped lips, it may be worth it to keep your mouth covered when you go out in very cold temperatures (yes, a mask counts!).

Here are more practices for how to prevent chapped lips and hands:

  • Never use hot water when washing your hands or face. Hot water can dry out skin and strip skin of its protective oils.
  • Stay away from harsh soaps and facial cleansers, such as those that contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). 
  • Avoid fragrance, salicylic acid, essential oils of eucalyptus peppermint, and oxybenzone (the active ingredient in some chemical sunscreens). 
  • Consider using a humidifier in places where you spend a lot of time, such as your bedroom or home office, to help get some moisture back into the air.
  • Be gentle when exfoliating your skin. It may be helpful to use gentle chemical exfoliators rather than physical exfoliants this time of year. Exfoliating your skin is still important to ensure your skin can absorb the moisturizing products you’re applying!
  • Drink water all day to stay hydrated.

Having a good hand cream, lip balm, and facial moisturizer that you can rely on to protect your skin barrier is also essential to preventing chapped lips and dry hands.

Ingredients and Products That May Be Able to Help

In the winter, a few superstar ingredients may help prevent dry skin and restore chapped hands and lips.

Research shows lack of ceramides, a type of fat that compromises the majority of the top layer of your skin, can contribute to dry, rough, and scaly skin in the winter. So choosing products that contain ceramides may help build back up your skin barrier and keep it protected.

Hyaluronic acid, squalene, shea butter, and plant-based oils such as argan and jojoba can also help protect your skin barrier and prevent skin dehydration.

Products to consider include:

French Girl Rose Lip Polish

This naturally scented lip scrub gently exfoliates lips with a physical exfoliant, sugar. With nourishing shea butter, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and sunflower seed oil, you can use this lip scrub daily to keep lips smooth and ready for your balms.

Although it does contain peppermint essential oil, it’s one of the last ingredients (meaning the product doesn’t contain much of it).

Eczema Honey Original Skin-Soothing Cream

If your skin is eczema-prone, you may find this cream with colloidal oatmeal incredibly soothing for your hands. With honey, aloe, sweet almond oil, beeswax, and sunflower seed oil, massage into skin one to three times a day to protect your skin barrier and help soothe eczema and dry cracking hands.

100% Pure Vanilla Bean Hand Buttercream

This hand cream won’t leave a greasy finish and is naturally scented. With cocoa, avocado, and shea butter, this formula also combines argan and rosehip oil with aloe vera and vitamin E. Superfoods green tea, acai, and goji berry also make an appearance in this hand cream, which is also designed to provide anti-aging protection for dry cracking hands.

Soothing Touch Unscented Organic/Vegan Lip Balm

This lip balm provides heavy-duty protection to help prevent and heal chapped lips. This lip balm is unscented to prevent irritation with fair-trade palm wax, candelilla wax, cocoa, shea butter, vitamin E, and calendula flower.

Are Your Hands and Lips Dry?

Prevent and restore dry cracking hands this winter with the above ingredients, products, and tips. When it comes to how to prevent chapped lips, keeping your skin protected goes a long way. Let us know in the comments below the practices and products that help you the most!

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