Ruth Griffin - beauty: Time for some lip service
How to protect your pout - without using addictive balms
We've all been there. Routing around in our handbags, desperately trying to fish out our lip balm, and realising - with mounting panic - that we've left it behind! It may seem a bit silly, but lip balm addiction is a real-life phenomenon. It is primarily a two-part addiction - one behavioural (the constant hand-to-mouth application process), the other is chemical or ingredient related.
Have you ever felt that the more you apply your lip balm the drier your lips are becoming? This is actually due to the ingredients in many lip care products. Camphor, glycerine and many flavourings used in lip balms actively dehydrate the lips, but give a superficial, fleeting feeling of relief when we apply them, so we think that they are working. Yet, half an hour later, we're left with sore, tight-feeling lips so we reach for another application of balm. It's the lip balm addiction cycle - becoming reliant on a product that doesn't even work!
The key to breaking this cycle is to opt for a lip balm, cream or oil (a new and gorgeous addition to lip care ranges) that has beeswax, natural oils and hydrating qualities, in addition to a protective barrier, and is camphor-free.
This way we are actually deeply moisturising our lips rather than just sealing them, which is what petroleum lip products do. (This can have its benefits, however. Sometimes in very bad winter weather, I would use a moisturising lip balm, then apply Vaseline over to really seal in and protect my lips.)
Lips are very thin-skinned - between just three-to-five layers of skin cells. They are the driest part of our bodies, as they don't contain oil-producing glands that can help keep them moist. Water-loss on the lips can actually be up to 10 times higher than other parts of the face or body, so as we head in to the start of winter, read on to find some great products and tips to properly protect your pout. Our lips are very hard-working and deserve some extra TLC at this time of year.
Treat vs Cheat
Clarins Instant Light Lip Oil
Already bestsellers for skin- and hair-care, oils are the latest thing for lips. This one is a luxurious option.
Body Shop Solid Argan Lip Oil
This solid oil is organic and fair trade. Warm it between your fingers before slicking on.
Backstage beauty with model Sarah Tansey
Sarah Tansey is a qualified pharmacist, who is now kept busy strutting the runways here and abroad as a model with the Andrea Roche Agency. Here, she gives us her secret tips on how she keeps her pout so gorgeous. Instagram @tansey_sarah
What are your top 5 hero products?
1. Rimmel Brow This Way. It's a tinted brow gel and gives a really finished look very quickly. 2. Bye Bye Undereye Concealer by IT Cosmetics. This actually comes in a pale enough shade for my Irish skin!
3. Benefit They're Real mascara (pictured). It never smudges.
4. MAC lip liner in 'Spice'. This was used on me for a shoot; I loved it and bought it after. 5. Sculpted Highlighter and Shader Set by Aimee Connolly (aimeeconnolly.com).
What is your skincare routine?
In the morning I use micellar cleansing water on a cotton pad to cleanse and then I moisturise with an SPF. In the evenings, if I've worn make-up, I will use micellar water to take it off, and then I always clean my face with some cleansing oil and my Clarisonic. As my skin has a tendency to be dry, I will use a fairly heavy moisturiser - at the moment I'm using one from Eucerin.
What is your favourite lip product?
I use lip balm constantly! My lips have always gotten quite sore, and even split in the winter when I was younger, and I didn't really think to keep putting it on. I think my favourite is Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, but I also have a tube of Carmex and a pot of MAC lip conditioner (it has SPF) in my handbag all the time.
What are your top lip-care tips?
I use the sugar lip scrub from Lush quite regularly, particularly the night before a shoot if my lips are a bit dry and might affect the lipstick for the shoot the next day. My favourite flavour is 'Mint Julip'.
What is the best beauty tip you have picked up from your modelling career?
The best one for me personally was to buy white foundation and mix it into my own foundation to get a perfect match to my skin. I found this so helpful as I am so pale and not all make-up companies make a shade to match my face, particularly since I've been living in London and New York where shops are less used to catering to the Irish complexion.
What do you think is the biggest beauty myth?
That expensive products are inherently better than the less expensive versions. I think there are great, and not so great, products in every price bracket.
What is your favourite beauty tool of the trade?
My Clarisonic (pictured). I shoot a lot of beauty campaigns, so it's imperative that my skin is in good condition and I feel it really helps.
What beauty product do you not leave the house without?
I would have to say lip balm actually, because I bring it everywhere to keep my lips conditioned, otherwise I'd have angry make-up artists when I got on set!
6 of the best lip protectors
Best for him
Neutral, understated packaging make Dr Bronner's lip balms a great option for men looking for lip care without any fancy bells and whistles. Leaves no tell-tale gloss or shine on the lips, just hydration and protection. Petroleum and camphor free, and 100pc natural, they are perfect for women too.
Pharmacies and health food stores nationwide, €4.50
Best for outdoor pursuits
If your lips are chapped and dry from being outdoors in the elements a lot, use a lip balm with added barrier protection, but crucially that also has hydration properties. This popular balm from Burt's Bees is a perfect option.
Pharmacies and health food stores nationwide, €4.99
Best long-lasting balm
Honey, plant oils, shea butter and grapefruit oil are all combined in this very yummy-tasting lip balm. Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm glides on lips very easily, is absorbed quickly and leaves no residue or gloop on your lips at all. A little goes a long way with this product and I found I didn't have to re-apply constantly.
Pharmacies nationwide, €12
Best lip oil
I use oils on my skin and hair a lot and LOVE them for their glowy moisturisation properties, but even I was a bit hesitant trying an oil for my lips for the first time. I am a total convert now after trying ESPA's Nourishing Lip Oil Treatment. The roller ball dispenser means it glides on easily (and can double up as a great under-eye oil) and, honestly, your lips feel unreal after. A bit pricey, but if your beauty budget can stretch to this, please try it!
Selected salons nationwide or espaskincare.com, €22
These adorable, button-shaped lip balms, a best-seller in the US for years, are now available in Ireland. Petroleum-free, they hydrate with jojoba oil, shea butter and Vitamin E, leaving a silky, light barrier on your lips. That's right, these little gems hydrate and protect lips. They come in some yummy flavours, like naturally derived vanilla, mint and summer fruit.
EOS lip balms, Boots nationwide, €8.99
If you're looking for a subtle colour as well as serious hydration properties, check out Moo Goo's Tinted Strawberry Edible Lip Balm. The rosy colour comes from beetroot extract; making this a 100pc natural lip balm, so pure you can actually eat it (please don't!). Sweet almond oil, jojoba, beeswax and shea butter in this little gem leave lips incredibly soft. I have this in my bag always!
Pharmacies nationwide, €3.95
Ask the expert
Tara O'Rourke is an esthetician, Dr Hauschka trainer and founder of the Saol Beo salon, which specialises in holistic treatments. Here, she shares her top tips for minding your lips from the inside out. saolbeo.ie
Why do lips get so chapped during the winter?
Lips take a lot of abuse, but they lack the protection that the rest of our skin enjoys. The skin on our lips is extremely thin compared with our facial skin, and lips have no oil or sweat glands. This makes them sensitive to both internal and external influences such as heat, cold, wind and sun. The lips dry out quickly and can become chapped or cracked because of these factors.
Are some lip balms addictive?
Yes absolutely, known addictive ingredients such as petroleum in lip care are habit forming.
What can we do to keep lips in top condition?
Before bed time, gently cleanse the sensitive skin of the lips with a warm cotton pad. Look for lip products that combine high-quality waxes with nurturing oils and plant extracts. The Dr Hauschka range is 'Nature' certified - there are no synthetic ingredients, colours, dyes or fragrances.
What is your favourite product for lips?
I love the Dr Hauschka Lip Balm (€9.95). It's safe and non-addictive, protecting the lips from the extremities of temperature and also visibly reducing fine lines around the mouth. It is rich in the healing properties of calendula and St John's Wort extracts - this encourages repair and renewal. Silk and anthyllis strengthen the delicate lip tissue and give a long-lasting protective care. A grain-of-rice-sized amount is all you need, warm it into your fingertips and apply. Your lips will feel as soft as velvet.
What ingredients should be avoided in lip care products?
Avoid toxic ingredients such as petroleum, aluminium, camphor and parabens - these are known irritants and mask the skin of the lips with an artificial 'shine'. There is no real protective care getting into the lip skin; instead, you are most likely ingesting these nasty substances.
What do you think is the biggest mistake women make when it comes to caring for lips?
We go for the shine and the colour, rather than really treating the sensitive skin of the lips with renewing ingredients. The natural compositions with kidney vetch, marigold and St John's Wort regenerate cracked and rough lips and protect them daily. We tend to completely bypass the lips and add protection to the facial skin, but our lips require love and attention too.
Is there anything else we can do to care for lips?
Factors that can cause lips to become dry, chapped and bleed include exposure to sun, dry air, cold weather, excessive lip licking, medication, dehydration and nutritional deficiencies. Lip balms will really support renewal, but you may also like to seek some advice in relation to a good boost of vitamins and minerals to protect them.