If I had to name my biggest beauty-related insecurity, my lips would come out on top. Forget my thin hair and out-of-control blackhead situation—my lips are the thing I feel most self-conscious about. And no, it's not because of their lack of plumpness or shape—it's because they are insufferably dry.
And despite the fact I experience some level of discomfort with my lips all year round, come winter, there really is no saving them. Cold temperatures and fierce winds combined with a spike in use of central heating leave my lips chapped, cracked and flaky. Trust me—I know it's gross, and that's what makes having dry lips such a hard thing to deal with.
To minimise the appearance of a bad situation, I slather on lip balm almost every second of the day, and for the most part, it works. However, on days where I might want to wear a little more makeup (hell, even lipstick), I start to panic. Any sort of foundation, powder or lipstick just clings to dry areas.
In fact, come winter, lipstick used to pretty much be a no-go for me. I found it just drew attention to how dry my lips were and actually made them feel even drier by the end of the day. That was until I discovered the power of choosing the right lipstick formula. It turns out that shopping for lipstick is a bit more complicated than just picking your favourite colour—especially when you suffer from dry lips.
Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about applying lipstick when you have dry lips, including the very best products out there.
How Does Lipstick Affect the Condition of Our Lips?
When you have dry lips, doing anything to draw attention to the area seems counter-intuitive, which is what makes applying lipstick onto blemished lips so tough. However, besides the fact that bold lipstick can cause unwanted attention, there are other properties of lipstick that can negatively affect the way they look on our lips. Senior Pro Artist at Bobbi Brown Amy Conway says, "You will find the bolder the pigment, the less nourishing the lipstick can be. Choosing a shade that is the same tone as your lip naturally enhances your smile and complexion without drawing attention to any dryness."
To keep lips looking the smoothest that they can, some measures can be taken to prep your lips ahead of time. "It can be quite easy to forget our lips during our skincare routines. Especially in the dryer months, it's important to scrub the lips weekly and then layer with a lip balm overnight to ensure they are smooth for lip colour the next day," says Conway.
Things to Consider
Nailing your lip-care routine can make all of the difference to how your lipstick applies. Granted, it will take a lot more than just an at-home regimen to totally cure dry lips, but some things can certainly make them appear healthier.
Senior Artist at MAC Debbie Finnegan explains, "Lip maintenance is something that should be practised daily for those with dry lips. If you suffer from flaky lips, then you need to invest in products such as lip scrub to smooth the surface of the lips and a conditioner to infuse moisture and return the lip to a plump state. This will prepare the lip area to accept and wear lipstick and colours more comfortably."
And when it comes to shopping for and applying lipstick, there are some important things to take into consideration, including how you're going about the application. Conway says, "A great way to get a smoother application for extra dry lips is to apply the colour with your finger instead of straight from the bullet. This will ensure you layer a sheer amount, and, like a balm, can really work into the lip for a smoother finish." And as for tailoring the formula you choose, Conway recommends keeping this lightweight: "Stick to balm-like textures and nourishing lip colours that offer a sheerer pigment and more hydration."
Things to Avoid
Most importantly when dealing with dry, winter lips is knowing what products to avoid. When lips are dry, they can be much more sensitive and can flare up from even a hint of irritation, including certain lipsticks. Debbie says, "Anything matte or anything that will cause a drying sensation is your biggest nemesis. Super dry, matte formulas are also more difficult to apply, so perhaps avoid those if you are really suffering."
Beyond the formula, certain shades and pigments can also affect the way that lipstick sits on dry lips. "Possibly avoid a strong lip colour, as they may take a little more maintenance. It is far more difficult to ensure the colour stays true and doesn't wear off in a patchy way," warns Debbie.
Shop the Best Products for Dry Lips
Besides the fact this sugar scrub really works to exfoliate unsightly dry skin, it also leaves the lips feeling conditioned, nourished and plumped.
You might have heard all about the cult By Terry Baume de Rose Lip Balm, but this scrub from the same line deserves just has much hype. With super-fine sugar crystals, this rose-infused formula is really heavy duty.
If you're not a fan of the oily remnants that some nourishing lip scrubs leave behind, this one is for you. It really works to rid the lips of flaky skin and prep them for a more nourishing balm or lipstick.
While most tinted lip balms tend to have a sheer, sheeny finish, this stuff from Kiehl's is a lot creamier and pigmented. Plus, it's great at preventing further damage thanks to the SPF 30 formula.
For days when you don't want a bold colour but want to give your lips a nude tint, this lip balm is ideal. With beeswax to nourish and menthol to soothe, it's a real winter must-have.
For those who aren't a huge fan of bold lips but still like a little bit of colour, this Bobbi Brown lip tint offers all the benefits of a lip balm with a very pretty, subtle sheen.
If you ask me, you really can't talk about tinted balms without mentioning Dior Addict Lip Glow. Available in different finishes and shades, it's this sheeny coral that I find myself reaching for most days to give my makeup a little boost.
The thing I love the most about this pretty pink balm is that it can be layered for a more pigmented finish if you want it. Plus, it's one of the most universally flattering shades out there.
When MAC released this line of lipsticks last year, I couldn’t believe my luck. I've been obsessed with MAC's lipstick shade range for years but found that the formula didn't gel well with my dry lips. However, these Love Me Lipsticks are formulated with argan oil to keep lips moisturised all day long.
Again, I really don't think I could be without this lipstick. Besides being the perfect nude, it makes lips look and feel smoother than smooth.
So this one might be a little expensive, but have you ever seen a prettier lipstick? Enriched with water lily extract for extra comfort and hydration, it’s definitely up there with my favourite lipsticks of all time.
If you suffer from terribly dry lips and haven't ever given one of these lipsticks a go, I urge you to pick one up. At just £10, they really feel like they're treating your lips as well as providing beautiful colour. This particular nude also helps in disguising any dry patches.
Those of us that suffer from dry lips know that it's easy to feel left out when a cult lipstick is all anyone can talk about. Luckily, we don't have to miss out on the wonders of Charlotte Tilbury's Pillowtalk lipstick, as this luscious, balmy formula also comes in the iconic nude shade.
Most matte lipsticks might seem to be drying, but choosing a formula that contains nourishing ingredients such as shea butter can make all of the difference. This matte formula from Lipstick Queen is super comfortable and not too drying.
Okay, I must admit that I probably couldn't reach for this formula in a bold colour when my lips are particularly bad, as I can imagine it would cling to dry patches quite badly. However, this nude is such a close match to my natural lip colour that I can wear it most days. Plus, I love how fine the bullet is to make for super-easy and precise application.
If you commonly find that matte formulas are too pigmented to sit well on your dry lips, I urge you to give this one a go. It's slightly sheerer than other formulas but packs enough of a punch to make it a great lipstick choice for special occasions.
Despite the fact these creamy, buttery mattes come in an impressive range of nudes (making it a great dry lip option), I personally think that they're nourishing enough to go for a bolder shade should you want to.
Again, I'd definitely say this lipstick sits on the creamier side of matte. There's almost nothing drying about this velvety nude.
Although this lipstick is absolutely the sort of matte formula that people might suggest you stay away from if you have dry lips, it's one of the only matte lipsticks I'm sure to make the time for. With a lip scrub the night before and a bit of time to allow for a generous layer of balm to soak in, very few lipsticks make you feel this good. And can we talk about how pretty the packaging is?