Aunt Vadge: my boyfriend has really chapped lips – how can I get him to fix it?

Yo Aunt Vadge,

My man got some chapped ass lips and I been tellin’ him, get some Chapstick, and this dude like “Nah”. How I tell him to get his shit together?

Smooth Lips
Age: 21
Area: MA, USA

Hey Smooth Lips,

My advice would be to stop kissing him until he sorts his cracked lips out. Don’t reward bad behaviour. He clearly doesn’t understand just how much his crusty lips affect you.

He may be either too scared to try something or he simply doesn’t think he has an issue. Either way, you need to make it clear that he needs to modify his approach to his own lips, because it’s not working for you.

If he wants to kiss, have sex or whatever else you guys get up to that’s fun and intimate and typically includes lips, he needs to bring some hot lips to the party.

Lips are everything. Imagine him going down on you with those lips. Eugh!

How to show him what this feels like to you

Get him to close his eyes. Gently rub the soft part of his inner wrist on your soft lips. Kiss his wrist a little. Lick him a little. Breathe on his wrist. Make it sensual. This is a very sensitive area of the body with very soft skin, so works well for this experiment.

Then, take his wrist and slowly rub it across his dry, crusty lips, and ask him to tell you how that feels compared to yours. Then say, do you get it now? It’s not fair if your lips are lovely and his are not. It doesn’t feel good for you.

Why we get cracked lips

Lips are pretty delicate tissue, so they can dry out and crack easily, especially if there are extremes of any kind: dry, windy, cold, hot, etc. You find far less chapped lips in humid areas.

The barrier (skin) that protects your boyfriend’s lips from the outside world has been broken, which is not healthy for his lips. If that was happening anywhere else on his body he’d see a doctor, but because it’s his lips, he can ignore it more because chapped lips is ‘normal’. It may be common, but long-term chapped lips isn’t healthy.

There are a few reasons why his lips are so cracked – either he is dehydrated or he is doing something (like licking them all the time), causing the dryness. Or both. Or he has some kind of lip problem that needs a doctor.

Solving chapped lips – hydration and some kind of lip balm

The first two causes are easy fixed – drink more water every day, and use some chapstick or paw paw or anything that acts as a barrier to hold moisture in. This will work over a period of 2-3 days, constantly improving his lips.

Chapstick and Vaseline, for example, are made out of what’s known as mineral oil. This is the same sort of oil (but much more refined!) that goes in cars. This type of oil is not vegetable oil, but this is why it’s so effective at helping solve dry lips. Moisture cannot escape out of this type of oil, and so it acts as a very good sealant over lips.

Moisture can escape out of vegetable oils, and while vegetable oils are good at moisturising, when trying to solve an immediate lip crisis, Chapstick or Vaseline work best.

Then, ongoing he can use anything else that works for him as needed.

Why licking our lips causes them to become chapped

The reason licking our lips causes them to chap is twofold. First, our saliva contains enzymes that are designed to break down food. When you put those enzymes on your lips with a lick, the enzymes can start to irritate the lip skin. That makes us want to lick it more, to stop it feeling so dry, but then evaporation of the saliva off the lip skin dries it out even further.

He may also pick at the skin with his fingers or bite little bits of skin off, which perpetuates the problem by creating little cuts that then have to heal. If he has some lip balm on, then the saliva can’t make contact with the lips quite as much, he’ll feel like his lips are moisturised already (so won’t feel dry), and they’ll start to heal.

How you can help him give you better kisses

While you can’t tell him what to do, you can encourage him to wear lip balm every day for a trial period of say 3-5 days to see if it helps. He’ll actually love the way it feels, because dry lips don’t feel good anyway.

You can withhold kisses until he sorts it out. If he refuses to sort it out, then he is sacrificing your relationship in favour of dry crusty lips. That’s pretty weird if you ask me. If he does try these tricks and nothing happens, then he may have a dermatological lip problem that needs the help of a doctor.

Good luck!

Aunt Vadge

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