Last Modified on Jun 20, 2014
Natural treatments are very effective at healing and preventing cracked or chapped lips. Home based treatments range from home remedies like coconut oil to supplements that support healthy skin.
What Causes Cracked Lips?
The lips do not contain oil glands like most other parts of the skin or body. Without oil glands, the lips are more prone to drying out and chapping or cracking. Additional factors contribute to this drying out including cold or dry weather, lack of self-care or hygiene, overexposure to the sun and frequent licking of the lips. Certain medications and supplements may also increase the risk of developing chapped lips including retinoids, lithium, chemotherapy drugs and vitamin A. Dehydration and malnutrition also contribute to the development of chapped lips.
Home Remedies for Dry Cracked Lips
Dry cracked lips are often easily treated using home remedies. Having plenty of moisture in the body is one of the main considerations for treating chapped lips. Drinking more water, using a humidifier, applying lip balm and avoiding cold weather conditions are initial treatment options. Other effective treatments include coconut oil, glycerin, l-lysine and lanolin. Manuka honey mixed with coconut oil, mustard oil and shea butter are also effective options. Gently exfoliating the dry skin on the lips using sugar and then rehydrating them with Vaseline can also eliminate dry chapped lips. Vitamin B2 and vitamin B complex vitamins also support healthy skin.
[YEA] 01/11/2013: Pam from Gainesville, Ga: "I had a severe dry lip problem after coming back from China. I remembered dropping a tube of lip gloss on the floor so I treated my lips as if they had some kind of bacteria infection and they got well. I can't remember what all I used.... Colloidal silver maybe and/or Neosporin."
[YEA] 09/27/2009: Azg from Toronto, On: "I started making my own lip balm to use for myself when I was pregnant and to give away as gifts... It's a pretty basic formula. About 50% Beeswax, 10% Oil, 40% Olive oil (or any other kind of vegetable oil).
Years ago I used to work with a woman who looked my age...I was shocked to discover she had a daughter my age! She said her secret was putting petroleum jelly around her eyes every night. I researched it and discovered that, while in theory it would work, it was VERY toxic to the body to apply anything with Mineral Oils or Mineral Oil-derivatives in it. After some more research, I learned that beeswax is an even better "sealant" than Petroleum Jelly is - and it's all natural!
So I started using my lip balm around my eyes every single night instead of an eye cream. I cannot tell you...the fine lines have DISAPPEARED! My eye area is dewy and soft. I get carded on a regular basis and people don't believe that I am 30 years old.
If you don't have the patience to make your own lip balm, please buy one at the health food store. DO NOT USE ANYTHING WITH MINERAL OILS. Avoid ones with Peppermint Essential Oils as the vapours are irritating to the eye. Try to go unscented.
Even if you buy one of the fancy organic brand lipbalms at $6 or $7 for one stick, it will honestly last you at least 4 or 5 months...which is still way cheaper (and FAR more effective) than those $100 containers of fancy brand-name anti-aging eye creams that are loaded with toxic chemicals.
P.S. Did you know Propylene Glycol is an industrial anti-freeze and it's in 90% of all conventional face lotions/body lotions?!? Go grab your bottle of drug store/department store lotion and read the ingredients. Still think the sun causes skin cancer?!? Or maybe the chemicals in your skin care???"
12/02/2009: Sheryl from Huntington Beach, Calf. replies: "I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT THE 10 PERCENT OIL IS IN HER LIP FORMULA- THANKS!"
01/09/2010: Mary from Mukilteo, Wa replies: "Does anyone know what the 10% oil is?"
EC: We're going to guess the missing word is coconut oil.
12/02/2010: Adam from Mission, Tx Us replies: "Could you put your measurements into teaspoons?
05/16/2012: Daniel from Tampa, Fl replies: "Hi, I have been dealing with this problem for almost FOUR YEARS NOW. I have found a cure... I found it myself without some doctor trying to tell me what to do... because they honestly don't know what to do! If you want to see how I cured myself of peeling lips then go to the site I created www.cureforpeelinglips.com and I walk you through day by day, each step of the way. Stick to my regimine and you will be cured forever! NEVER LOOK AT CHAPSTICK AGAIN! I hope this helps you guys, I spent countless hours creating this site and I know what it's like going through this... I'm here for you. If you have any questions there is a comment section and all my contact info is on the site if you need to email me personally. I am here for you! No one should have to live like this.
Good luck everyone! -Daniel Miller"
11/04/2012: Faeqa from Amman, Jordan replies: "Hi I tried sesame oil with bee wax for chapped lips and I found it better than any other oil and cream. I used it for my dry face skin and sun burn, it is perfect.
To make it add 2 TBS of wax for one cup of oil on low heat and melt it (don't boil just melt) then put it on glass jar and let it cool. U can test the consistency befor put it in jar by put a teaspoon of it in refrigerator for few minutes."
12/02/2012: Athena from Northern Indiana replies: "Thanks for doing and sharing your research!
For anyone who wants this in tablespoons, you could just put 1 tablespoon of what's 10%, 4 tablespoons of what's 40%, and 5 tablespoons of what's 50%. You can double or triple it from there."
[YEA] 12/19/2009: Tamara from Fort Collins, Co: "Coconut oil cured my cracked, peeling lips! Living in Colorado, the air can be cold and dry, and my lips have taken a beating, plus I tend to chew on them if they're peeling. Then all sorts of trouble starts and I get a cold sore. I've tried a lot to rehydrate them, like putting different oils and balms and even honey on them. I found my solution by accident. I love coconut oil and use it as my go-to moisturizer for everything, but have been disappointed in its ability to help my lips topically. Still, I love it for the rest of my skin. But it wasn't until I started feeling sick and did what I always do to keep from getting whatever is ailing me (colds, flu, cold sores, even UTIs!) that I noticed; I take several doses of coconut oil throughout the day. Not only did I not get whatever I felt was looming, but my lips smoothed right up. But I didn't get why (doh!) at the time. I stopped the intense coconut therapy, although I still oil pull with it and put a small amount in my tea, and boom, a day later my lips were back to their normal, cracked selves. Ta-da! Light bulb.... I need more coconut oil. Now, everyday I take about a 1/2-1 tablespoon 3-4 or more times a day (I happen to love it so I tend to do a lot with it) and have smooth, uncracked lips. I love coconut oil! I just take a big ole' spoonful of organic oil and munch away (since it's cold now)."Replies
[YEA] 12/02/2012: Athena from Northern Indiana replies: "This is what I've been doing too! I was told I needed to fix the problem from the inside out and not the other way around. It was also recommended to me that the oils are uncooked, so I keep adding them to my food and it makes everything rich and creamy."
11/28/2012: Elin from The Hague, The Netherlands: "First thing I do, when I notice my lips turn dry over the course of the day, is drink a glass of water.
It's usually a sign I'm slightly dehydrated. I found this out when I worked at a store where they had a blower-heater at the entrance - making the air very dry - combined with being busy and not having the time to drink during busy hours.
For dry, painful cracked lips, a 30 minute glycerine lip treatment will help. Simply put a thick layer of glycerine onto your lips, as thick as possible, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Leave it alone, don't smear it out or touch it. It's sticky and sweet, so make sure you have a straw at hand if you get thirsty...
After 30 minutes or longer, gently remove the glycerine with a soft tissue. In most cases, the lips will be perfectly soft again, and even the painful cracks will have healed.
I personally don't feel glycerine is something for every day use, but it works wonders when needed."
[YEA] 05/19/2009: KT from Irvine, CA: "This website is a life changer. First, I got rid of my constipation of 36 years by taking Cal-Mag daily and now finally, after suffering 30 years from Chapped, Cracked, Peeling, Hurting lips, I checked this site again and L-Lysine had the most votes, so tried it and saw INSTANT results, within 12 hours! I took 1000 mg for the first two days and then reduced it to 500mg, this being my 4th day. I will be reducing it to 500 mg once a week. I am in heaven, where I no more need to abandon my toothpastes, thinking they are the culprit. I am back to using my organic toothpaste. Life is Great, with smooth, pink lips. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR FEEDBACK with INSTRUCTIONS."Replies
08/07/2011: Virginiataylors from Kingman, Az replies: "My daughter has severe cracked lips... Would L-Lysine work for children? and at what dosage?"
08/07/2011: Noelle from Minneapolis, Mn Usa replies: "Start off with 1000 mg of Lysine for the first few days. If there is no response to the Lysine, try Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin). 100 mg should work within 24 hrs. Use the capsules; you'll be able to adjust the dosage to exactly what you need to maintain your smooth lips once they clear up. And don't worry if your pee turns deep yellow or orange; that's just what Riboflavin does! If the Riboflavin works, it might be a good idea to take a good B Complex -- long term the B Vitamins work better together. 'Nuff said!"
[YEA] 12/02/2011: Jennifer from Sunrise, Fl, Usa: "I live in hot, humid South Florida so I don't have much of a problem with dry skin. However, when I go back up to the freezing north in the wintertime, the wind and cold makes my lips get chapped and sometimes I get dry, itchy skin. Lanolin oil has been a lifesaver for me! It heals my chapped lips and is also great on dry, cracked hands or rough elbows. Lanolin cream is actually very easy to find in the baby/maternity section of the drugstore, it is usually marketed as a breast cream for breastfeeding mothers (and supposedly works well for this purpose, too). It's a 100% natural oil that is from the sheared wool of sheep. A large tube will cost you around $14 but I've been using it daily on my lips for 2 years and am only through half the tube. After applying, my lips are moisturized, they heal well and they get plumper and redder. I'll never look for another lip product - this is the one! :)"Replies
[YEA] 12/28/2011: Lauren from Carlsbad, Ca replies: "I also use Lanolin cream on my chapped lips and love it! I had it in my medicine cabinet after breastfeeding. One day I realized if I can use it on dry cracked nipples, I can use it on my lips!!"
[YEA] 01/15/2012: Kellie from Syracuse, Ny, Us replies: "I just want to say that I just discovered this product today and I'm already in love with it! I read that the three things you want to use on your lips to heal them while allowing them to breathe.. Are lanolin, coconut oil and shea butter. I have been trapping my lips for years of being a lip balm addict, but now I'm looking to heal them. I tried coconut oil since I already had some but it's very liquidy and tends to wear off quickly. I bought pure lanolin at the grocery store today and it feels great on my lips, good texture, stays on long, and when it does wear off my lips don't feel as dry. I haven't tried the shea butter yet but for now lanolin definitely gets my vote!"
[YEA] 02/18/2009: Lon from Stanhope, NJ: "Lip Fissures:
My son, with Down Syndrome, has several chronic ailments resulting from poor nutrient absorbtion, because of having Hirschsprung's Disease and an ileostomy...such as, candida, fungal nails, cracks on heels and between toes, gingivitis, fatty liver, tendency toward dehydration and so on. He also had mono recently and may have insuline resistance. All he wants to eat is meat, which seems to be common with other people who have this disease. When I to try bribe him to eat organic vegetables or fruits, I noticed that these foods, as well as the expensive supplements I give him, are passed through his system undigested. He doesn't chew well either. Lately I bought a blender so he can have nutritious smoothies. I've also switched to liquid supplements when I can find them.
All of his life, he has had a fissure on his lower lip. It often cracks open and bleeds. He also has surgical scars on his abdomen which become sores because of a habit he has of adjusting the waistband of his pants. I've tried every angle, extra fluids, supplements, different lip balms, diet, tea tree oil. The tea tree oil tastes bad, so he wouldn't tolerate it, although it may have helped. I try to watch ph balance, but when he's at school, at the sitters or out and about, he gets a lot of junk food given to him by people who are trying to be kind. I puposely don't give him extra money, so he can't buy snacks. His teacher said she had to stop well meaning people from constantly bringing treats for her students. Recently on a school field trip,a waitress bought him soda...this happens so often, I feel i can't win when it comes to diet, but I do my best at home.
I read recently that active manuka honey from New Zealand is now being used in hospitals to treat chronic wounds and bed sores especially for people with diabetes. A culture isn't needed because the honey kills a wide variety of organisms including fungus and MRSA. It's also used to treat certain digestive problems. If you research it you'll be amazed. The honey is available in different strengths, with a number of ten or more, indicating activity level, recommended for wound healing. It is expensive, but we tied it. It seemed to help a little, but my son keeps licking it off as soon as it's applied. The recommmended method is to apply the honey to a sterile dressing and cover the wound; of course i can't do that on his lip. I finally thought of mixing the honey with a small amount of virgin coconut oil to make it stay on better, and rub it generously into the crack. We apply it several times a day. The crack is now fifty percent smaller after only a couple ofdays. We've never had even minor success with any other strategy.
We are so pleased with the results! We've been helped so much from the many posts here at earth clinic. For the first time, I feel I have some control with my son's issues, because of the success we've experienced with the rekmedies here. If one thing doesn't work, we study the various posts and tweek the treatment until something helps. We hope we can give back to the people from all over the world who share their remedies here, by sharing this information."
02/19/2009: Gean from Salina, KS replies: "I wonder if anyone has ever tried mixing a little tea tree oil with any type of honey, if that would have the same effect for wound healing. I understand honey alone (any kind) is good for burns, etc."
02/19/2009: Lon from Stanhope, NJ replies: "That's an interesting comment, because the manuka honey comes from the tea tree plant."
[YEA] 02/19/2009: S from Los Angeles, CA replies: "This totally works... I have tried it a few times for lip cracks... also good for sores."
[YEA] 08/19/2011: Suzy Q from Birmingham, Alabama: "A little Mentholatum Ointment rubbed in the cracks that formed in the corner of my mouth gave me instant pain relief. By Day 2 the cracks were completely gone! This ointment can be found in any store that sells cold medicines."
09/21/2011: Tina from Princeton, N J : "I was in India recently and was told of this homemade Ayurvedic tip to prevent chapped lips. With winter coming around the corner, I thought it might come in handy for some EC readers: Gently massage one or two drops of mustard oil into your belly button at night, before going to sleep. In the morning, your lips will be soft. Continued use will also make your facial skin brighter. I tried to do some online research as to why this is effective but could not find any. Massaging oil in the belly button is not new to me though. I know of an Ayurvedic massage tip to help improve one's eyesight which says gently massaging sesame or coconut oil in a clockwise direction in the navel at night helps to mitigate any eye problems and to strengthen one's vision. I guess mustard oil works on the lips! Anyway, I will try it this winter. BTW, mustard oil, which is kind of strong smelling, is available in Indian grocery stores."Replies
[YEA] 11/28/2012: Akansha from Boston, Ma replies: "Hi, I had some mustard oil in my house as my bf likes fish cooked in it. Both of us tried your remedy and found it miraculously effective. Since the morning I have used lip balm just once my my lips are still smooth. I will definitely keep using it all through winter. Thanks for the suggestion. :)"
01/04/2013: Rykki from Victoria, Bc, Canada: "For a few years now for what seems no reason, i wake up with a swollen upper lip. Ive tried ice/heat, antihistamines, tea bags, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil and nothing seems to bring the swelling down. I've had test to determine I'm not allergic to anything. Never had a alergic reaction before.I do have Psoriasis, could there be a link to this? Can you suggest any "non-drug" remidies that might help me out?"Replies
[YEA] 01/03/2014: Duppy from Virginia replies: "I have an upper lip inflammation. About a week ago the edges of my lips started to crack, then it hurt to even laugh. It's winter where I am, but honestly...I've never experienced this. The cracks around the edges even started to bleed a little bit. Eventually the cracks healed a bit, but then my lips couldn't be defined as they usually could. It was odd. The pain was still stinging/itching on my upper lip, being even more red than my lower lip.
I have a ton of supplements at home. I looked through them and found Aloe Vera gel supplements. I bought them a few years ago and really never used them. I opened up a capsule and squeezed out the gel, putting it onto my upper lip. FINALLY---the stinging/itching disappeared immediately. It was as if the discomfort was neutralized on contact.
I did further research and found out Aloe gel is used for skin inflammation all the time. The ancient Egyptians used it as their go-to medicine for skin ailments.
My point is....try aloe gel in capsule form if you can. Don't get that garbage from the store with so-called 'aloe' in a pump form because that most likely will sting because it has additional additives in it. Get the pure gel in capsule form. Break it open like a vitamin E pill and you'll be golden."
01/03/2014: Linda from Southern Maine replies: "Hi Duppy - this is probably totally unrelated but sometimes the corners of my mouth get red, dry, cracked and sore....I take a sublingual B supplement once or twice a day and within a couple days my mouth is much better ~ it might be worth a try for you!"
12/15/2011: Emily from Ballard, Ky, U.s.a: "Any suggestions on simple homemade remedies for having and keeping soft, smooth lips? Greatly appreciated!"
07/23/2010: Mary from Mukilteo, Wa: "I have a question for anyone that knows anything about this. What should I do for area around the lips (but not noticeable on lips) that swells whenever I eat or touch the area? Thank you if anyone knows about this. It has not happened to me before."Replies
02/17/2011: Lauri Crowe from Howell, Michigan replies: "My favorite topical l-lysine ointment is by Basic Organics. It will heal the area and can act as a barrier cream that will only improve your lips and surrounding tissue. You can learn more about why it's my favorite by going to sharedreviews.com/review/basic-organics-l-lysine-ointment-vitamins-a-d-e and reading my review. It's really great stuff."
05/08/2012: Sofia from Nashville,tn, Usa replies: "I am trying Baking Soda tooth paste from Arm and Hammer and am not using any product having petrolem jelly, it helps."
07/29/2009: Thopper from Overland Park, KS: "allergic reaction to lipstick -- My wife cannot seem to wear lipstick anymore because of some reaction to something in the lipsticks themselves. She has been to doctor and a dermatologist but with no luck. Does anyone out there no of anything or heard of anything that might stop the reactions so that she can begin to wear lipstick again."
EC: You can find "natural" lipsticks sold in many health food stores now. Whole Foods has a nice selection.
08/01/2009: Sandy (sandhya) from Bangalore, India replies: "Try changing the brand of lipstick. I am allergic to many brands of lipstick as they irritate the skin on my lips...I have shifted to Loreal and Maybelline for lipsticks and they do not irritate my lips."
09/22/2010: Dee from Hill Country, Tx replies: "For finding healthier cosmetics search the SkinDeep Cosmetic Database online. Remember how long cosmetics last when you are tempted to choose cheaper ones (although the only lipsticks at the store that don't give me a sore throat are the superduper cheapies)."
05/18/2009: Yvonne from Culpeper, Va: "please help: have been on minocycline for many years because on acne. have aso been using cheat lipstick, but now i have dark lips . not sure if it the meds or the lipstick . what should i do . have stop using both, but how do i get my lips back in color?"Replies
10/27/2013: Jenjen from Bryant, Arkansas replies: "Yvonne, you might want to get the book "Eat Right For Your Type" (Individualized) by Dr. Peter D'Adamo. I've had MANY health issues in the past, such as acne, psoriasis, red hands, memory fog, weight gain, occasional weird skin rashes, "sinus"/mucus issues, and even borderline-migraine headaches which would often occur after seeing auras (weird, blinky-worm things in my peripheral vision). It was all due to my DIET. Once I started eating correctly according to my blood type, ALL of my health issues went away. ALL of them. It was LIFE CHANGING! (And my family doctor had NO clue about how to help my seemingly-unconnected health issues! I wish ALL doctors would read this book in Medical School.) I find that leaving wheat and wheat gluten out of my diet and eating more healthy foods (especially spinach and prunes) REALLY helped my acne to totally disappear. Sorry I can't help with your lip color issue, but maybe the book addresses that, as well. Hope this helps! :) Sorry for the late reply. You posted in 2009, and it's now 2013."
[YEA] 11/26/2007: DZ from New Canaan, CT: "Reponse to Sandy regarding her peeling lips: I have had similar reactions after using lipstick from MAC a few years ago. However, I discovered after spending weeks trying to heal them that most lipsticks and even chapsticks, balms, etc. (even the natural ones) contain some type of alcohol! So the peeling cycle never ends. I believe this is a marketing scheme by the companies that manufacture the products. If your lips are dry you will continually apply the product -- very sneaky!! I suggest you only use 100% natural products like shea butter (my favorite, worked in 2 days after applying 2x a day). Coconut oil might also work. I have also used Vaseline but it didn't work as fast as the shea butter (which I bought very cheaply at iherb... make sure it's 100% shea). Hope this helps. Please give us an update!"