Are you a lip-licker? Tips for taking care of your lips


The dirty little habit nobody seems to know they have

My best friend and I were talking about my blog and I was describing to her the Love your Lipspost with the mini-spa ritual at the end. We discussed the virtues of Pangea Organics lip balms(many) and the necessity of exfoliating the lips (besides chewing off your lip skin it’s the only way to get rid of dead skin).

The Case of the Mysteriously Chapped Lips

Then she revealed to me that her lips are consistently chapped and she can’t figure out why. She gets plenty of hydration, is great about nutrition, and she uses the Pangea Lipcare regularly (multiple times a day). Also, the rest of her skin is neither overly dry nor chapped. This made me cock my head to the side and wonder what else she wasn’t telling me. Why would I think that there was more to the story? Because it doesn’t make sense. Many things are mysterious about the human body, but chapped lips aren’t one of them except in very rare cases. She told me that she had divulged all information that was pertinent to the case and added that she had not exposed her lips to any extreme conditions like all-day sun, snowboarding in the cold, etc.

The Story of the Unknowing Lip-Licker

Then I told her the story of my mother, a classic lip-licker. My mother has had not only severely chapped lips for years, but she has also had raw, chapped skin above her lips for months at a time (telltale sign of a lip-licker). She tried everything, sought medical attention for it, and settled for slathering Vaseline on her lips (which worked in the moment, but did not cure the problem). The use of Vaseline is a solution that I balked at, but they’re not my lips and it’s not my decision to make. I spent a few hundred dollars over the years buying my mother the best lip care that could be found and she always went back to the Vaseline, which afforded her temporary relief. I can’t say how much mineral oil she has eaten in her lifetime in the guise of Vaseline, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t harm her, although it will be difficult not to wag my finger and say “I told you so” if it does come to that.

A connection between mental and physical wellbeing

After years of dealing with this minor but annoying issue of severely chapped lips, my mother added natural medicine practitioners to her retinue of allopathic healthcare providers. She had been getting little satisfaction from the allopathic camp who were stumped about a more serious health issue. As my mother became open to alternative modes of healing she became more open to looking at herself and how her mental health and wellbeing affected her physical health. For someone of my mother’s generation (child of the Great Depression), this was a big step.

The process of discovery

Even as she was discovering that her mental states and lifestyle habits were affecting her health in serious ways, my mother vehemently denied that she could be the  cause of her own chapped lips. How, she argued, could one incessantly lick one’s lips and not know it? That is the question. Over time, and with the help of her new holistic healthcare practitioners she was finally willing to look at her habits, both conscious and unconscious, mental and physical, in order to get to the bottom of some of her health issues.

A shred of awareness

I urged her to take stock of her lip licking. Everybody does it sometimes, so why not try to be conscious of lip-licking when it happens? It took a few days for her to train her attention to perk up as her tongue darted out of her mouth to whet her whistle. Then it took a few more days to make a mental note of it. The notes piled up, and lo and behold – she discovered that she WAS a lip-licker. And not only a lip-licker, but an Unconscious, Nervous, Incessant lip-licker. It took a while for my mother to train herself not to lick her lips, and when she’s stressed out she starts licking them again. Unconscious habits die hard.

It really is a shock to discover something about yourself that you’ve been doing for years and didn’t know it. Like when I discovered in my mid-30s that I was somewhat right-left dyslexic. I’ve been this way all my life but didn’t notice until . . . I did. Or my best friend not knowing she licked her lips until now.

Do you have chronic chapped lips?

If yes, then ask yourself this question:
Are you doing everything to prevent chapped lips?

  1. Hydration (lots of water & electrolytes)
  2. Exfoliation (remove any dead skin from the lips)
  3. Nourishment (especially EFAs and other good fats)
  4. Protection (avoid extreme circumstances and use a good lip balm)

If you answered yes to each part of the question, it just may be that you are an unconscious lip-licker.

If you answered no to any part then please make a decent attempt to correct it. That will probably solve your problem.

Psychological reasons why we lick our lips

Attraction: We lick and bite our lips to attract mates. Wet, juicy looking lips look like, well, wet juicy looking lips (if you know what I mean).

Unconscious physical activity accompanying mental activity: We lick and bite our lips when we are thinking about something or worried. Some people even chew on the insides of their mouths.

Anticipation: Mouth-watering, juicy goodness makes us lick our lips in anticipation.

The reason why we really don’t want to lick our lips

However, the digestive enzymes in our spittle have the effect of breaking down moisture in our lips. So, licking the lips causes the opposite effect of the hydration we think it will afford us. In other words, licking your lips is counter-productive.

Tips for the chapped of lip

  • Don’t use lip products that dry your lips. Avoid using any lip product containing mentholatum, mint, or any ingredient that is cooling. These are generally drying to the lips. Avoid Carmex and Blistex at all costs! It is not just a rumour that these products contain ingredients that keep your lips addicted to the product – by design.
  • Don’t use a lip product that tastes so good you want to eat it off. Classic yummy culprits are citrus, berry and vanilla flavors.
  • For your own sake, please buy a lip balm that works well. It can’t be too hard (like Chapstick) or too soft (like cocoa butter) or it won’t moisturize the lips and keep them protected for any length of time.

Be Yourself Beautiful‘s number one recommendation: Pangea Organics Italian Red Mandarin with Rose. I have never found another lip balm that outshines or outperforms this one.

  • goes on smoothly
  • stays on
  • has a fantastic scent that I do not want to lick off
  • incorporates healing and repairing ingredients
  • lasts for months using multiple times a day
  • almost* completely organic (2 out of the 3 ingredients not labeled “organic” are derived from organic sources).

Your Lip Homework

Take care of your lips (Hydration, Exfoliation, Nourishment, Protection)

This means use a good lip balm (try the Pangea Organics Lipcare in Italian Red Mandarin with Rose. It really is the best!)

If you discover that you are a lip-licker, make a practice of mindfulness about your “habit”. Don’t judge yourself or forcefully try to stop yourself from doing it. Just bring some gentle awareness to it. Perhaps contemplate why you lick your lips. And just see if the simple act of awareness doesn’t change it. ❤

Jen MurphyComment