The best base for this seasons new lip colours is a smooth lip. Unfortunately many factors – from nutrition, to weather conditions – can contribute to lips drying and cracking. Aside from being a painful experience, cracked lips are not a good look with lipstick – the colour tends to accentuate a lacklustre lip. So we have gathered together some quick and easy tips to enhance your smile and have you back rocking bold, bright hues.
GET YOUR FILL OF THESE INGREDIENTS
For healthy lips, two of our favourite ingredients to look out for are Propolis and honey. Here’s why:
Propolis – Although bees are more famous for producing honey, they are also responsible for a compound called propolis. Tanya Hawkes, founder of Therapi Honey Skincare (and expert on all things bee-related) explains why it’s so benefical….
“Propolis is a precious and rare compound produced by bees from the resins of plants. It is one of the most powerful antibiotics found in nature and a natural source of anti-oxidant flavonoids, trace elements and minerals. It has been used as a beauty treatment for 5000 years to purify, heal and smooth the skin. It assists with the protection and regeneration of cells and also with the synthesis of elastin and collagen.”
This makes it an ideal ingredient to look for in lip products. Not only does it help with healing and regenerating the skin but propolis also has antiviral benefits, which make it ideal to treat the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), which causes cold sores.
According to a study 1, when used in a topical solution, propolis causes cold sores to heal quickly and reduces some of the pain. One key to propolis’ powers is its high levels of antioxidant flavonoids, which give it antimicrobial effects. A study found that propolis extract has anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to reduce inflammation equivalent to some pharmaceutical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.2
Both cold sores and cracked lips can be highly irritating, so we asked Content Nutritional Therapist and Medical Herbalist Jennifer Derham for the best way to treat these naturally. She says: “People generally get cold sores when they are run down, ill or emotionally stressed. Certain foods may also precipitate the lesions. Therefore building up the immune system and managing stress levels is the best way of avoiding cold sores, or at least reducing the chances of recurrence. This can be done in a number of ways such as eating well, taking a good multi-nutrient formula and incorporating immune boosting and antiviral foods and herbs into your daily regime.
Elderberry, licorice, lemon balm and St John’s Wort have all been shown to have antiviral properties. Not only that but they all help boost immunity generally and have also been shown to reduce anxiety, which is an added advantage. Mushrooms such as Coriolus and Maitake are fantastic immune boosters and also very antiviral, with research showing them to inhibit the herpes simplex virus. All of these can be taken in a number of ways including teas, capsules and liquid extracts.
It is also well worth increasing lysine-rich foods in your diet, as a correlation has been found between increased outbreaks of herpes simplex and a deficiency in this nutrient. Foods high in lysine include fish, red and white meats (organic preferably), beans, Brewer’s yeast, milk (we like it raw or at least organic), cheese and mung been sprouts. Most fruits and vegetables contain lysine also. Vitamin C and Omega 3’s are also extremely useful in treating and preventing cold sores.
Inflammation and cracks on the corners of the lips are otherwise known as angular chellitis (AC). This can be due to a number of reasons including bacterial or fungal infections, nutrient deficiencies including vitamin D, iron, zinc and B vitamins, a low immune system, or persistent lip licking and dribbling.
If your AC is due to a fungal or bacterial infection, propolis can be taken internally or used topically for healing and is particularly useful if. If AC is due to a nutrient deficiency, it is well worth investigating this further especially if the problem has been ongoing. Often, simply taking the correct supplement can help greatly.”
If you want to get to the root cause or your lacklustre lips or any other health concern, book in for a one-on-one consultation with Jennifer – more information here.
Honey – There has been a beauty ‘buzz’ around honey lately, for very good reasons. If you have been following us, you’ll know that we are huge fans of the topical use of honey for skin, it’s antibacterial and healing properties, make it an ideal ingredient for lip balms.
Applied to skin, honey has long been regarded as one of the best and oldest known natural wound healers and infection ﬁghters, having been used for more than 5000 years to treat burns, ulcers and coughs. Honey’s healing properties are mentioned in the Bible, Koran, and Torah. More recently, the Russians used honey to cover their wounds in World War II, as the wound would retain moisture and leave very little scar tissue.
In fact, a study has found that some of the chemicals in honey can kill certain bacteria and fungus, making it an ideal wound dressing (3) due to a number of properties. Honey draws moisture out of the environment, thus dehydrating bacteria and its high sugar content also kills many kinds of bacteria, including some antibiotic-resistant germs. Honey also forms a moist environment, which speeds healing of wounds and minimises scarring and due to its density, no fungus or bacteria can grow in the wounds.
With all this natural power it makes a great addition to any lip products you use and even better, honey supplies rich levels of flavonoids and phenolic acid, compounds, which help fight the herpes simplex virus, which causes cold sores. When a researcher treated patients with drug Acyclovir for one herpes outbreak and topical honey for another, the overall healing time with honey was 43 percent better than with Acyclovir for sores on the lips.4 Patients who applied honey four times per day healed their outbreak in three days, compared to six with the drug Acyclovir. In addition, application of honey during the prodrome phase – the tingling and soreness before skin symptoms actually appear – prevented an outbreak in two patients.
Try these lip-specific products to get your fill of honey and propolis:
- rms beauty lip and skin balm: This lightly scented balm soothes and hydrates irritated lips, thanks to skin-enhancing and anti-oxidant ingredients including propolis and Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola)5 – a medicinal plant that has been used in both folk and allopathic medicine for hundreds of years as an effective small wound healer. Use regularly to heal, protect and hydrate lips and give them a smooth texture. As part of the regenerating phase this balm may cause a peeling effect, stick with it and work through it, to reveal the smoother skin below.
- AS.AP Lip Balms: We’re fans of this all-natural lip-balm for its anti-inflammatory and anti-septic healing properties, as well as its fresh scent. Ingredients include Sussex beeswax, which helps to soften lips and organic honey, which has anti-bacterial properties. Other hydrating and soothing ingredients include avocado oil, olive oil and cocoa butter. A winner!
- De Mamiel Rose Lip Balm – This balm features a blend of nature’s most nourishing oils. Manuka Honey is one of the key ingredients, including Camelia, Monoi and Evening Primrose. Apply this silky balm for supple and sweetly scented lips.
- Trilogy’s Everything Balm – This multi-tasking purpose cream soothes and hydrates skin thanks to antioxidant rich ingredients of Manuka honey and paw paw. We use it to soften lips but also on elbows, knees, hands and feet. Great for long haul flights.
A word of caution if are allergic to pollen: although it is uncommon, honey may provoke an allergic reaction. Also, if you experience frequent, severe or prolonged (longer than two weeks) cold sores, we advise you see a specialist. Find out more here.
Top tips for Healthy Lips
We asked Content Naturopath and Facialist Fay Halkitis to share her tips for lips.
- Exfoliate – Give your lips a gentle exfoliation once a week. Try mixing 1 teaspoon of raw sugar and ½ teaspoon of manuka honey. Use one finger to rub in circular motions over the lips. Leave on for a few minutes before removing with a damp cotton pad. Afterwards, apply a few drops of rose water to tone the lips.
- Nourish Topically – Always have a good quality, nourishing lip balm on hand. While this may seem simple, it is your guarantee against weathered lips, both short and long term. Natural formulations will contain a balanced mix of hydrating ingredients and quality antioxidants for regeneration. Try Rms Beauty Lip & Skin Balm for maximum protection or the AS.AP Lip Balm in cocoa, coffee and orange for a flavourful experience.
- Nourish from Within – Chronic chapped lips can be a sign of nutritional deficiency and/or dehydration. Pure coconut water supports electrolyte balance while vitamin E rich foods will nourish the skin and lips from the inside out. Try adding avocado and sunflower seed powder to your smoothies.
- Protect – If you suffer from cold sores, a propolis-based ointment will provide a protective barrier and should be applied up to five times daily. Increase Lysine rich foods (fish, parmesan, grass-fed meat, eggs) and avoid foods high in arginine (such as chocolate and nuts).
- Moisturise – Use a small amount of your eye cream on and just around your lips at night before bed. The skin around the mouth is equally prone to ageing and can benefit from the same anti-oxidant protection and nourishment as the delicate eye area.
- Mechanism of herpes simplex virus type 2 suppression by propolis extracts. The Free Library. 2010 Urban & Fischer Verlag 09 Mar. 2015
- Mechanisms involved in the antiinflammatory effect of propolis extract. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1993;19(5):197-203.
- How honey kills bacteria. The FASEB Journal, 2010; DOI: 10.1096/fj.09-150789
- Topical honey application vs. acyclovir for the treatment of recurrent herpes simplex lesions : MT94-8. Epub 2004 Jul 23.
- Centella Asiatic in Cosmetology. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2013 Feb; 30(1): 46–49.