Exposing the skin to hot water—as in steamy showers, hot coffee, or scalding hand washing—has the ability to strip skin of its natural lipids, thereby stealing from the skin its natural defense system. While the lip area does not have oil glands (to produce sebum), it does contain other protective lipids like ceramides and fatty acids1.
Gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, M.D., MSCI even noted that he knows it’s time to curb coffee intake when he sees his lips dry out: “Pay attention to your lips. If I notice my lips starting to get dry, that tells me I’m pushing the coffee more than I should,” he said on the mindbodygreen podcast.
We recommend applying a protective lip balm before and after your morning cult of coffee. Applying it before can offer a protective barrier, reducing the amount of water that comes in contact with the skin. Applying the balm after will help replenish any lipids or hydration that was lost.
Look for a lip balm that contains a robust assortment of humectants, emollients and occlusives. For example, hyaluronic acid can attract and hold moisture in the skin. Shea butter is a botanical butter that can act as both an emollient and occlusive—helping heal cracks in the skin barrier while also protecting it from further damage. It’s been shown to seal moisture into the skin and protect the skin barrier2. One study even suggests it has similar topical effects as ceramides3.