Up until very recently, whenever I heard anyone complain of chapped lips, I thought it was kind of a trivial beauty complaint. Like, throw some lip balm on and get over it. It can't be that bad. Then, I went on Accutane.
I want to be the first to apologize to anyone who has ever had to deal with chapped lips before — I was an insensitive, ignorant asshole. Dammit, this shit is horrible. If you've ever been on Accutane (or if you're just really, really unlucky in the moisture department), you know my struggle. Accutane works by drying the skin and regulating oil production, which is great for getting rid of blackheads and drying up pimples. What's not so great is that the drying effect also hits your lips — and hits it hard.
Around the two-and-a-half month mark of my Accutane cycle, I started noticing some flaking on my lips. Nothing a little lip balm — specifically, the stellar Clarks Botanicals Ultra Rich Lip Balm — couldn't handle. But then, it got worse. Coats of Chapstick would disappear in what felt like seconds. I went through a tube of balm in a week. My lips began to get so dry they would crack and bleed when I opened my mouth. The dryness actually extended past the corners of my lips, making the surrounding skin red and irritated. I looked like the Joker — just with better eye makeup. Apparently, this is totally normal. (So, word of warning, potential Accutane users.)
Worst of all, I hadn't been able to wear lipstick since the dryness started. It actually dried my lips out in addition to looking like some flesh-eating pastel purple or hot-pink virus had attacked my face. I got so desperate, I grabbed a tube of Lansinoh — a pure lanolin cream for nursing mothers to treat sore, cracked nipples. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
While the Lansinoh was great for my nighttime hydration, I found that during the day, it would ball up and leave giant strings of flakes all over my lips. Cute. I started raiding my stash of lip treatments for anything that would work, which is when I dug up the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask.
The minute that goo hit my parched pout, my lips sucked it in like they had been waiting for it all their lives.
Full dislosure: I was not a fan when I first tried this product — that's why it was rolling around in the back of my bedside-table drawer. It felt heavy and goopy, sticky, and just uncomfortable on my lips. It melts and smooths out after application when it warms up, but it still felt pretty heavy to me. But since I was diligently plowing through everything lip-related I owned, I grabbed this and squeezed out a thick, Vaseline-looking squiggle and rubbed it in.
Sweet, blessed relief. The minute that goo hit my parched pout, my lips sucked it in like they had been waiting for it all their lives. I smoothed it over the recently split cracks, which still hurt, but at least weren't opening or spreading; I massaged it in to the flaky lines on my top lip. The mix of agave nectar, jojoba oil, and whatever the hell vanilla CO2 extract is just happens to be the magic potion that tamed my chapped-lip beast.
I've been using it on the daily ever since. At night, I layer on the Lansinoh; in the a.m. I smooth on the Bite. It's not magic — I still need to reapply throughout the day. Plus, it doesn't make me look like I'm permanently molting when it dries out.
But wait, there's more. There are three versions of this mask: clear and — praise be — two tinted ones. The just-bitten red and Champagne shimmer are the closest thing I've gotten to wearing lipstick in months. They make me feel almost human again.
So, if you're dealing with severely dry lips, no matter what the cause, I salute you. I also highly recommend picking up a tube of this. A little goes a long way and, for the most part, it's mitigated the whole Sahara situation I've got happening on my face. This — and cracked-nipple cream — are a dry-lipped lady's superhero duo. The more you know.