Drinking Hot Coffee & Tea Triggers Dry, Chapped Lips & Most People Do It Every Morning
Keeping lips sufficiently hydrated is one of the peskiest skin care concerns. For many folks who regularly have dry lips, it often feels like a losing battle. The truth is that the skin on the lips is very unique, and therefore requires special care.
The skin on the lips is distinctive in both form and function. It’s naturally thinner and more delicate skin, so it’s more susceptible to cracks and moisture loss. In addition, it’s regularly exposed to things that can dry it out—such as foods, saliva, and drinks.
It’s no wonder you might find yourself reaching for your lip balm regularly!
One habit in particular could be drying out the lips—and lots of folks do it daily. Here’s what to know about how coffee can dehydrate the skin on the lips.
If you have dry lips, it might be due to coffee: Here’s why & what to do about it
Hot coffee can dehydrate the lips—but not necessarily in the way you might think.
Just like exposing the skin elsewhere on the body to scalding hot water can weaken the barrier by disrupting your natural lipids, the same can be true for the lips when you're drinking piping hot coffee.
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.
Don’t worry, no one is telling you to skip your daily cup of hot coffee or tea. But if you are regularly dealing with dry lips, one way to help protect the skin is to apply a lip balm before and after drinking the beverage.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.