Chapped Lips? Put Down The Lip Balm And Use This Instead

woman squeezing Aquafor ointment onto her finger then putting it on her lips
I can’t go a day without this stuff!

Living in an arid climate, I’m no stranger to dry skin, including chapped lips (or worse, cracked lips!) After trying a number of chapsticks and lip balms that didn’t seem to help at all, I finally wised up and asked my dermatologist for guidance, and she turned me onto the best thing for chapped lips: Aquaphor!

In this post, we’ll be diving into the subject of chapped lips and leaving no stone unturned. We’ll examine the causes of chapped lips, find out why lip balms often make things worse, and explore how to soothe, moisturize, and repair dry lips. So let’s get started!

woman putting Aquafor onto her lips with her finger
I even apply it over lipstick.

What Causes Chapped Lips?

When I brought up my dry, chapped lips to my dermatologist, she gave me some great information about lips and why they’re vulnerable to dryness. A lot of it has to do with relative thinness of lip skin compared to skin in other areas, because thinner skin is more prone to dryness.

Our lips also have fewer oil glands than other areas do, which means less natural hydration. And once you account for environmental factors that can dry out skin, like cold weather, makeup, UV rays, and pollution, it’s easy to see that our lips are constantly under siege, with results ranging from simple dryness to irritation and inflammation.

Luckily, the product my dermatologist recommended worked like a charm, and now Aquaphor is my go-to fix for chapped lips! I’ll tell you all about that below, as well as share some other useful tips that can help you maintain soft, moisturized lips all year long.

Related: Easy Microwave Honey Lip Balm

woman holding a bottle of Aquaphor ointment
Make sure you get the healing ointment, NOT the lip repair!

Why Aquaphor Is So Good For Lips

You may already know that Aquaphor Healing Ointment is a great fragrance-free option for healing dry hands and feet, especially when worn overnight under gloves or socks. But can you put Aquaphor on your lips and expect similar results? Yes, you can!

Related: This Is The Best Remedy For Really Dry Heels, No Contest

According to my dermatologist, it’s better to skip the lip balms and instead use Aquaphor to repair dry lips. Not only is Aquaphor inexpensive and available in most drugstores, but thanks to moisturizing ingredients like petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin, and glycerin, it actually heals your lips instead of making things worse.

Aquaphor comes in a variety of sizes, so I got a tub to keep on my nightstand and a smaller tube to keep in my purse. Now that I know Aquaphor is good for lips, I’ve vowed to always have some on hand!

woman making a thumbs down sign with her hand and holding a package of Aquaphor chapstick

Note: Make sure to look for Aquaphor Healing Ointment specifically, which is not to be confused with Aquaphor Lip Repair. The two products have totally different formulas, and you’ll definitely want the full-fledged healing ointment if your lips are severely dry!

FAQs About Aquaphor For Dry Lips

woman sitting on a bed looking at a bottle of Aquafor

Can I Use Aquaphor On My Lips Every Day?

Yes, you can apply Aquaphor every day, or whenever your lips feel dry or tight. It’s a good idea to apply it before going to bed too. Many people see results the first time they use Aquaphor on their lips overnight!

Can’t I Just Use Lip Balm?

Lip balms and chapstick may help keep your lips soft and moisturized, but if your lips are already dry, chapped, or cracked, you should steer clear! They often contain ingredients like alcohol, synthetic fragrances, and added flavorings, which can aggravate dryness and irritation and make things worse.

These effects can be subtle enough that you may not even realize it’s happening. It’s also why some people find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of constantly reapplying lip balm throughout the day, without any real improvement to show for it.

Aquaphor is better than chapstick because it moisturizes dry lips and promotes healing, rather than contributing to dryness.

What Is Slugging?

Aquaphor is popularly used in slugging, a practice that involves applying a thin layer of an occlusive (like petroleum jelly or Aquaphor) over the top of your skincare products. It’s typically done before bed to moisturize skin overnight. Learn more about slugging here.

6 Bonus Tips For Chapped Lips That Dermatologists Swear By

woman applying lip balm out of a small container
This ointment combined with a good lip scrub makes ALL the difference!

1. Use A Lip Scrub

In severe cases where your lips are peeling or flaking, it’s a good idea to use a lip scrub to help remove all that dead skin. Using a gentle abrasive like sugar will help to gently exfoliate your lips, allowing the moisturizers you apply afterward to penetrate your skin more effectively to ensure a flake-free future!

woman drinking out of a pink cup

2. Drink Water

The science here is simple: the better hydrated you are, the more hydrated your lips will be too. Need some help reminding yourself to drink more water throughout the day? Check out these tips.

woman squeezing Aquaphor ointment onto her finger then putting it on her lips
Morning, noon, evening, bedtime…keep those lips covered!

3. Apply Ointment Often…

One reason why Aquaphor is so effective at healing irritated and dry skin is because it forms a protective barrier. It seals moisture in to hydrate and heal your skin while keeping dry air and other environmental stressors out.

For this reason, it’s important to reapply ointment to your lips often, especially after eating and drinking. The more diligent you are about keeping your chapped lips covered and moisturized, the faster and more effectively they’ll heal.

(Need something to help keep your legs and the rest of your body moisturized? Check out the “miracle” cure that I recommend to everyone!)

jar of Aquafor ointment sitting on a nightstand with a woman's hand around the outside of the jar

4. …And Slather It On At Night

You don’t need a special “overnight lip mask” for chapped lips! Put a generous amount of Aquaphor on your lips overnight to moisturize, heal, and soften the delicate skin. You’ll wake up to softer, smoother lips every time!

I’ve even started apply a little bit around my nostrils when my nose starts to feel raw after using a lot of tissues, and it works like a charm.

woman holding up pink lipstick and lipgloss and putting it on her lips

5. Avoid Long-Lasting Lipstick

To my fellow lipstick wearers out there, I hope you’re paying attention! If you’re going to wear lipstick, make sure to choose one that won’t make dry lips even worse.

Lipsticks marketed as “long-lasting” often contain alcohol, which will sap the moisture out of your lips in no time. Long-lasting color is nice, but not when it means dealing with dry, flaky lips for days afterward!

A good rule of thumb for lipsticks is to stick to products that feel moisturizing and are easy to remove. (For more tips and tricks for avoiding lipstick faux pas, check out this post!)

Related: 9 Easy Remedies For Lip Lines That Don’t Cost A Fortune

humidifier sitting on a table
Soft lips is only one of MANY benefits of using a humidifier.

6. Use A Humidifier

In addition to Aquaphor, using a humidifier at night has been another game-changer for my lips! Rather than trying to treat the symptoms of dryness separately, using a humidifier can help stop those symptoms at their source!

Not only have my lips been less dry since I started using my humidifier at night, but the skin on my nose and legs has improved too. I definitely plan to continue using it throughout the winter to help keep the unpleasant effects of dry winter air at bay!

I hope one or more of these chapped lip tips prove as useful to you as they have been to me! May we all maintain beautiful, pain-free smiles through the dry months to come. :-)

Do you have any tips for healing chapped lips?

woman squeezing Aquafor ointment onto her finger then putting it on her lips

How To Heal Chapped Lips

Jill Nystul
If your lips are dry or chapped, use these tips to heal them fast.
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  • Avoid traditional lip balms — they often contain ingredients that can dry out or irritate chapped lips.
  • Use a gentle lip scrub to remove dead skin.
  • Apply a generous amount of Aquaphor Healing Ointment after exfoliating, and reapply it frequently, especially after eating or drinking and at bedtime.
  • Drink plenty of water. The more hydrated you are, the more hydrated your lips will be.
  • Avoid long-lasting lipsticks, as they often contain alcohol that will further dry out your lips.
  • Use a humidifier at home, especially overnight.

Read This Next

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Beauty Tips

  • I’ll add again as a reminder and as ‘kw’ stated 2 yrs. ago, any products with petroleum is not healthy and should be avoided. Aquaphor has other toxic ingredients as well sadly. I was given this product by my oncologist after my breast cancer radiation yrs ago. I didn’t know then that petroleum is not healthy. I’ve had a recurring abscess in one of the areas of my breast that I applied the Aquaphor to. I’m not a dr, but I’d bet the Aquaphor was/is a factor in the abscess. Beware!

  • I have a contact allergy to wool. One of the ingredients in Aquaphor is lanolin, a very common ingredient in cosmetics, derived from wool. Because of my allergy, Aquaphor actually aggravated my chapped lips, and my dermatologist recommended straight Vaseline petroleum jelly. Just FYI. Loved the other tips. Also, he said that a water softener can help significantly with dry skin. Now I need to research water softeners. By the way, Jillee, I live in Utah, so we deal with the same dry air!

  • I would like to tell what I use for chapped lips. Jillie’s Healing Salve. I have been using it for about 10 years. I also use it for burns, bug bites, diaper rash skinned knees, callous, dry skin and I can go on and on. This is one of the first recipe I used from Millie. I could not be happier that I discovered it.

  • Hi Jillee, I agree with you about the use of lip balms making the situation worse. I have a terrible habit of peeling the skin off my lips, which I wouldn’t do if they weren’t dry in the first place, and what I have found that helps overnight is to use petroleum jelly in a tube. It really makes a difference. I just have to quit that bad habit, though, over time, the jelly really cures the dryness.

  • I really like the Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Blam and I like that they do not test on animals. Aquaphor on the other hand does test on animals so it is something I will never buy until they stop testing. I also like that you can make your own with Shea butters and oils. Another good thing is to do a lip scrub to get rid of the dry skin and start out new. That has helped my lips enormously. I know people who swear by the product though. But to each his or her own. Just a thought if you are an animal lover and didn’t know. As always thanks the good things you bring us.

  • The one thing to watch for AND AVOID in a lip product is anything that is a petroleum based product, like Vaseline. That is the last thing you want absorbed into your skin/body

  • Ever since I read about Aquaphor when you previously wrote about it, I’ve been using it faithfully AND successfully! I live where the weather is very dry, and I had been using Aquaphor Lip without it helping my dry lips much at all. Once I switched to Aquaphor Healing Ointment the difference was amazing! I used to wake up with horribly dry lips (from my CPAP machine). When I use Aquaphor Healing Ointment before I go to sleep, I awaken with moist lips and I don’t even think about applying more for hours. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • Thank you for mentioning the need to drink water as one of the ways to heal dry lips. My husband gets chapped lips constantly, especially when he is on day trips for work. I have found that the best CURE instead of TREATMENT is to drink more water. As soon as we hydrate, the chapped lips go away. Chapped lips are a sure sign that you are dehydrated. The reason they are more chapped on road trips – we don’t drink as much water in the car as we do at home.
    Thank you for your daily posts. I am amazed at how many different things you come up with! Every day when I ready your latest post, I think you must have covered everything! And then you magically come up with something amazing again the next day!

  • One more thing that dries lips out — mouth breathing. I didn’t realize how often I breathed through my mouth until I noticed my lips were dry after doing so when struggling to breathe with prolonged mask use. I’ve used Aquaphor for over a year for dry lips. It works wonders! I ordered a pack of the little clear lip balm squeeze tubes from Amazon. Think of the little plastic tubes with the dispenser cap that Vaseline comes in for lips, or some lip glosses come in. It came with a syringe to fill them, but I honestly don’t need it. The opening of the tube fits right over the opening on the Aquaphor tube cap. I just press the empty tube flat between my fingers to push most of the air out, then put the opening over the Aquphor cap opening & fill the small tubes. Makes for easy application without having to touch my fingers to anything. I keep a tube in my makeup drawer, the vehicles & a couple stashed around the house in my frequent areas. This has saved my lips all year wearing masks.

  • I forgot to mention…. I reuse the tubs; they are great. You can easily remove the outer labeling, clean out the interior residue. I find them especially good for cotton balls, homemade burn salves, etc. Be well and creative!

  • I have been making my own natural lip balm for several years and like experimenting with different formulas. The ones I’ve made that contain Shea butter, lanolin, and castor oil have been the most helpful for my dry lips. Those ingredients work fabulously in my homemade body creams, too!

  • I have a small in-home daycare and swear by Aquaphor for the babies’ bottoms….. one of my little guys has baby eczema and it works like a charm on it. I too use it for my lips and my, well, crows feet! Be well.

  • When I had my last child (33 years ago!) I had some trouble breast feeding him. I bought the pure lanolin sold for breast feeding mothers. It healed me quickly. I was left with an entire container of it, so I tried it on my chapped lips. I’ve been using it ever since and it works better than any other product I’ve tried. One tube lasts me years.

  • I discovered that one cause of my very dry and peeling lips was the Retin A I was using on my face. I have learned to tuck my lips in before spreading it evenly over the rest of my face (avoiding the creases on the sides of my nose as well). If Retin A on my lips dried them out I figured, then maybe AHA did, too. Making sure these products didn’t get on my lips did the trick for me. No more dry lips — without even using other products. If winter causes more problems, however, I will definitely use the Aquaphor. Thank you for the valuable info!

  • It’s rare that I would apply a regular otc ointment to my lips…only when I need sunscreen. For everyday use, I use pure lanolin. Works like a champ…I have tiny tubes stashed everywhere, but it’s so rich that used once in the morning and before bed usually does the trick, except if it’s super cold/dry.

  • My late mother frequently had to go to the wound care clinic due to diabetes. Aquaphor was their #1 treatment on her legs (diabetes causes extreme dry skin). I use it on my lips nightly and in winter use it as a moisturizer on my face. It is fairly inexpensive and boy, does it work!

  • I’ve always used Vaseline when my lips all the time. Chapstick can be a good option too sometimes. I do have a little tub of aquaphor. I had to break down and get it when my hands were so chapped nothing else was working. I’ve never thought about using it for my lips.

  • You can also try natural lip balms that come in compostable packaging. I really like “bee balm” and Habitat Botanicals has lip balm in compostable packaging as well. Natural lip balms don’t have alcohol in them so they are really moisturizing and long lasting and that way you have less plastic packaging than using an ointment.

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