First thing's first: stop licking those lips!

By Meghan Overdeep

We're only a few weeks in, and this winter has already been a brutal one. Historically cold temperatures are wreaking havoc on everything from pipelines to school calendars, and worst of all, our skin.

If you've noticed that your lips are looking more like the Sahara Desert each day, it's not your imagination. Cold weather is the sworn nemesis of kissers everywhere.

Here's the deal: dry, cold air pulls moisture from anything it can, including the saliva on freshly-licked lips. Constant licking in the winter can create a hard-to-break cycle of licking and drying, which leaves your poor lips red, cracked and sore.

"Wind and cold temperatures cause chapped lips, and licking them makes it worse," Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, explained to HuffPost. "Repeated lip licking removes the skin's natural lipids, which then causes the person to develop a cycle of licking lips to try to relieve the dryness."

So, aside from putting a hold on licking (you heard the doctor!), here's what else you can do to keep your lips looking and feeling their best until springtime.

  1. Exfoliate. A gentle scrub that's not too abrasive will slough off dry, dead skin. Just be sure to balance it out with a moisturizing balm to protect the new skin.
  2. Avoid lip balms containing camphor, eucalyptus and menthol. These actually dry out your lips and make the problem worse.
  3. Use protection. Wear a scarf or a ski mask that covers your mouth when you go out in the cold.
  4. Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will fight the dehydration that leads to chapped lips.
  5. Use a humidifier indoors. Your skin and lips will thank you for adding much-needed moisture to the air.