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Skin

Are you suffering from retinol lips?

February 15th 2020 / 0 comment

Dry, chapped lips? It’s probably your retinol’s fault. Here’s how to combat the annoying side effect of the retinoid family

At this time of year it’s common to have dry, flakey lips, but the blame doesn’t entirely lie in the hands of the weather gods. The cause of your chapped lips is actually a lot closer to home, in your skincare cabinet, in fact - we’re looking at you, retinol (and the whole retinoid family, actually).

Yep, the powerful anti-ageing ingredient could be behind your chapped lips - especially if you’re reckless with your application. Along with your under eyes, your lips are the most delicate skin on your face and any retinol that comes into contact with them is likely to cause dryness as well as itching and redness, as Doctor Sam Bunting explains.

“Getting retinoids on your lips usually comes about as an accident - we inadvertently swipe our fingers over our lips when applying our precious night-time retinoid, or we smoosh it over our lips when we face-plant into the pillow.”

Don’t throw out your retinol though - there’s plenty you can do to limit the damage retinoids do to your lips.

The first step is to apply a fragrance-free, non-irritating lip balm around your lips before applying your retinoid. This acts as a barrier so any extra retinol doesn’t slip on to your lips.

“Be sure to work your lip balm into the corners of the mouth, where skincare products can sometimes pool and cause trouble,” advises Dr Sam.

Next up, apply your retinol with caution. Rather than haphazardly dousing your face in it, apply it carefully and stay well away from the mouth - again, this makes it less likely for your product to slip.

Dr. Sam recommends applying your retinol with the 13 dot technique so that it’s absorbed where needed, and nowhere else. (Factor in some extra time for your skincare routine if you want to do this, it’s definitely not a method for people in a rush to leap in between the sheets).

Dr Sam’s next step to avoid retinol lip is much more user-friendly - she suggests applying your moisturiser first, then adding retinol on top. The problem with putting moisturiser over retinol is that smoothing it in can cause the retinol to slide south - potentially onto the lips. If you’re set in your ways of layering your skincare, just make sure the retinol is fully massaged in to prevent excess moving around the face.

Lip balms to help with retinol lips

Dr Sam's Flawless Lip, £12

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Given that Dr Sam turned us on to the concept of retinol lips, it makes sense that she came up with a product to combat the issue. "I set about developing my idea lip treatment," she says. "It's free of irritants and stays put no matter what. It looks pretty too, but has purpose, replenishing the essential lipid barrier."

It's a blend of lanolin and ceramides and is easily absorbed, meaning your pillow won't be covered in lip product.

R&R Luxury Lip Butter, £4.80

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A new budget-friendly lip balm we've just come across is this 100 per cent natural lip balm from Ghanaian brand R&R. It combines shea butter, coconut oil and bees wax and as well as keeping our retinol from migrating to our lips, it provides a pleasant cooling sensation.

Pure Color Envy Nighttime Rescue Lip Oil-Serum, £24

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This new launch from Estee Lauder was designed specifically for use before bedtime, so we'd like to see our retinol try and slip down once this is in place. The applicator is pillowy soft and our lips feel super hydrated thanks to camellia, rose and lavender oils.

MORE GLOSS: The 7 best lip balms for sensitive skin

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