We've all been there: you go in for a pash with your partner and realise one of you is working with parched sheets of sandpaper - cracked, crusty, dusty slithers of the Sahara. Sexy.
Dry lips are prolific at this time of year, with blustery winds, frigid temperatures, central heating and dry air all leading to chapped chops - and a lot of discomfort. If you've ever had those nasty cracks in the corners of your mouth, you know what I'm talking about.
Thankfully, Preeti Narayan, the founder of the award-winning, New Zealand-made lip care brand Yes Organics, has given Newshub the lowdown on giving dry lips the slip this winter. If you think saliva constitutes a satisfactory moisturiser, this one's for you.
As the founder of the small local business, Narayan is well-placed to share the tricks of the trade. The brand specialises in natural, organic lip balms and lip care products - and their efforts haven't gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, Yes Organics secured gold and silver accolades at The Green Parent Natural Beauty Awards in the UK, marking their 39th international award since scooping their first overseas win in 2019.
"Lips are softer and more vulnerable than other skin and are more prone to getting chapped if not looked after properly, especially in winter. This is where a good lip balm will help," Narayan tells Newshub.
"While it might be stating the obvious, your lip balm can't protect you unless you use it. We recommend popping a lip balm in your handbag or pocket and applying it several times a day."
If you're in the market for a hydrating, high-quality lip balm that won't break the bank, Yes Organics offers a range of products designed for different skin concerns - from moisturising salves to anti-ageing balms - at a reasonable price point.
"Different people have different lip care needs, from children to grandparents," Narayan notes.
Keep it moisturised
For ongoing day-to-day protection, Narayan recommends regularly applying a moisturising, hydrating balm to help maintain a protective layer against the elements, as well as the drying effects of heaters and heat pumps.
"Fundamentally, we consider our moisturising lip balms to be a four-in-one solution. They hydrate and smooth the lip's surface, help repair the skin's natural barrier, create a natural barrier of protection, and seal in moisture," Narayan says.
"Each ingredient has been carefully assessed for its benefits. This effectively makes each ingredient a hero ingredient and we do not use any filler ingredients."
Consider switching up your makeup routine
For the beauty buffs, Narayan advises applying a moisturising balm or salve before any lipsticks or glosses, which can contain drying or irritating ingredients. Keeping your smackers in tip-top condition will also provide a better canvas for any lip looks you may want to attempt - that carefully crafted red matte creation doesn't need to be accessorised with skin flakes.
Alternatively, Narayan suggests swapping out the matte lippies for a hydrating tint that provides a wash of colour without the drying formula. There are a myriad of tints and stains on the market to choose from; Benefit Cosmetics Benetint is a good bet, or the Anti-Ageing Lip Gloss with SPF40 by Paula's Choice provides a sheer boost of colour with added benefits.
If you really can't skip the stick, opting for a lipstick enriched with nourishing ingredients may be more prudent during the winter months. Fellow New Zealand beauty brand Ethique has recently released a range of vegan lippies in their signature home-compostable and plastic-free packaging. The vibrant colour is teamed with naturally occurring mineral pigments and nutrient-rich emollients to create non-drying lipsticks - a great bet for looking bold in the cold.
For those among us who are prone to cold sores, Narayan recommends using a lip product that is specifically formulated to keep those pesky blisters at bay. Yes Organics' Prevent & Heal range is specially designed for the treatment and prevention of cold sores, enriched with scientifically proven ingredients. The balms are designed to prevent and reduce the frequency of outbreaks and speed up the healing process, while locking in moisture.
For customers with severely chapped lips or who suffer with eczema around the mouth, Narayan recommends their Chocolicious Cocoa & Hemp Seed Lip Balm: a product enriched with antioxidants, omega fatty acids and moisturising oils, such as hemp seed, coconut, jojoba and calendula, as well as shea and aloe butters. Hemp seed oil has a reputation for regenerating the skin, with a similar composition to the skin's lipids, or natural fats, which makes it an excellent natural emollient and moisturiser.
At a slightly cheaper price point, Good Health's Viralex Lysine Ointment could also be an option to consider. The ointment offers a nourishing treatment containing lysine, zinc and potent herbs to naturally protect and soothe dry and cracked lips. It's recommended for everyday support and maintenance, but also during times of stress.
Alternatively, you may want to take a look at Aotea - another local biz with natural, handmade products - and its Kawakawa Balm. Although it's on the pricier side, the balm is multi-purpose and designed for the likes of dry lips, eczema, psoriasis and sores. Kawakawa leaves naturally contain anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and analgesic properties, making their extracts beneficial for relieving skin issues.
Scrub off that skin - gently
Before you start sloughing off dead skin willy-nilly or worse, picking it off, Narayan has some words of wisdom.
Instead of using a harsh or abrasive scrub to remove peeling or dead skin from the lips, the founder suggests opting for a damp cloth, or even your finger, to gently rub and exfoliate the surface of the lips after showering. Removing the skin following a shower or bath will be more effective as the skin will have softened in the heat.
"We advise against forcefully pulling dry skin off your lips as this can cause the lips to bleed or be sore," she says.
"Instead, we highly recommend overnight application. Just apply a lip balm before going to bed and it will usually work its magic."