The plight of perpetually chapped lips is the perfect mix of frustrating and painful, yet just trivial enough to make people roll their eyes when you attempt to explain that it’s a real problem. But if you’ve tried what feels like every scrub, balm, mask, and treatment on the market to no avail, it’s probably a good idea to take a closer look at the potential causes of your lip woes. Luckily, you may not have to look very far at all — because there's a chance your toothpaste is to blame. We stumbled upon a Reddit thread extolling the virtues of switching your teeth-cleaning formula to clear up stubborn chapped lips. At first, the premise seemed odd...until we sifted through testimonials from users who swapped in toothpaste specifically for sensitive teeth and found their skin problems banish almost immediately. Some chalked the dryness up to the presence of sodium laureth sulfate — a foaming surfactant in most toothpastes— while others accepted the sensitive switch as a miracle they dare not question.
So, could your go-to formula really be the culprit of chapped lips? According to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, it's likely. “Allergic reactions and irritations to toothpaste are unfortunately common,” he says. “If you have chronically chapped lips, mouth irritation or burning, or even a rash around the lips that will not go away, you must consider whether it’s your toothpaste that’s having that effect.” As for blaming SLS-based formulas, Dr. Zeichner says that while the cleansing agent can cause allergic reactions in some people, ingredients like cinnamon and mint are also frequent culprits. That’s right: Your toothpaste’s minty flavor alone could be the reason your lips are chapped no matter how much Maybelline Baby Lips you apply. (What is life?) Bottom line: If you’ve tried everything under the sun and can’t seem to get your flakes under control, it might be worth switching up your toothpaste to an SLS-free one, like Sensodyne, and seeing how it goes. Just keep in mind that everyone has different reactions to ingredients, and that isn’t a guaranteed fix. And, as always, heading to your dermatologist is a much safer bet than consulting Reddit. (Yes, even if it is from the well-sourced information found on SkincareAddiction.)