Natural solutions for chapped lips this winter

Substitute Breast Milk – Not Always Advisable

Natural solutions for chapped lips this winter

Don't suffer with really dry, chapped lips this winter. Discover natural solutions to ease your discomfort with Dr Sandi Nye.

This is a common problem for many folk during the winter months, since unlike the rest of our skin, lips do not produce sebum, which makes them vulnerable to drying out.

But don’t despair – there’s plenty that can be done to remedy this discomfort. Since dryness of the skin can be indicative of dehydration at a deeper level, it’s important to ensure that your internal hydration levels are not neglected – so remember to drink lots of water in addition to tackling the problem topically.

Many people find that if they’re having to constantly reapply lip balm because their lips dry out within a short time of putting it on - irrespective of whether they plaster it on thickly - the reaction is often due to a lip balm ingredient that needs to be avoided.

Many lip balms and chap sticks use petroleum-derived/petrochemical ingredients, manufactured waxes and chemicals, silicon dioxide and/or artificial skin softeners as their moisturising base. Although substances such as these (petrolatum/white petroleum jelly based) can serve as effective barriers to moisture loss from the skin, they ultimately end up causing even further dryness, since they don’t actually moisturise because the lips can’t absorb them. So although this can offer a short-term fix, it doesn’t provide a long-term solution.

It pays to read labels to identify what is in your lip or other skin-care products: for example, you may want to avoid any product that contain parabens (controversial preservatives), phthalates (hormone disruptors - found in many fragrances/perfumes), synthetic fragrances, flavourants and colourants, silicones (ingredients that provide slick and shine and helps lip products stay on the lips longer, but locks out moisturisation), highly refined oils and/or genetically modified oils (sunflower, canola, soy, corn etc.). Some of these oils are however available in non-GMO form from cosmetic ingredient suppliers. Isolates like menthol, camphor, and phenol are often included in lip balms for the topical soothing and tingly/cooling sensation they produce, but they can also dry lips out – part of the catch-22 cycle that is common to many commercial lip products. Good for business, as it generates regular repeat sales, but not ideal for your lips! However, when these constituents, which are present in certain whole essential oils (i.e. not isolated from an oil or synthetically created in a lab), are included in lip balms they tend not to exhibit the above phenomenon – another reason to opt for natural rather than mass- produced commercial products.

There is a wonderful array of natural substances available for DIY crafters, which provides moisturisation and/or barrier-care. These include vegetable butters, such as shea butter, cocoa butter, avocado butter etc., as well as various natural vegetable oils such as argan, avocado, baobab, calendula, coconut, jojoba, olive, rosehip etc. In addition, beeswax, soya wax, jojoba wax or other natural waxes also provide barrier function, as well as assisting in emulsifying oily ingredients, providing shine and hardening lip-care products. Other ingredients like lanolin, lecithin and vitamin E can also be included in natural lip-care products for their emulsifying and/or lipcare properties. Certain essential oils are also suitable for lip-care, but these need to be added with knowledge. Besides their many therapeutic qualities these aromatic compounds are phthalate-free, hence a healthier choice for adding fragrance to lip and other natural skin and body products.

For acutely cracked lips you may find it best to start treatment using a lip balm, and once the condition improves, move on to a lipstick. A gentle, natural lip scrub can also help. By making your own lip-care products you can customise formulations and ingredients to your personal and specific needs or preferences. I hope this information helps you regain smooth, happy and kissable lips real soon!

For information about how to make your own natural lip balms, as well as many other natural skin care products and toiletries, visit

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Substitute Breast Milk - Not Always Advisable

Q With reference to a breastfeeding issue that made headline news some time ago, I am hoping you can clarify some questions and concerns that I am sure other readers will also find useful.

I am referring to the sentencing of the parents of baby Lucas who weighed 4.3 kilograms when he died at the age of seven months. His parents had self-diagnosed him with gluten intolerance and a lactose allergy.

I don't think it's uncommon for parents to self-diagnose these days, and with so much talk against formula milk and dairy products, it is understandable that they looked elsewhere.

What is of concern is that they seem to have lost touch with the weight of the baby! Surely they should have sought medical attention sooner. I also wonder why such health-conscious parents did not breastfeed? Apparently the mother did not produce breastmilk. Why? Another puzzling question.

And why was the milk they gave him (quinoa, buckwheat, rice and oat milks) not sufficient? Did it lack essential fatty acids perhaps?

This story really saddens me. P.F.


It’s very interesting that parents may be oblivious to obvious signs of malnourishment in their offspring. This oversight occurs with farmers and farm animals too. Dr Pol, a veterinary surgeon in Michigan, recently advised a farmer to feed his calves more milk after some of the calves became ill with diarrhoea and died. The reason they died was that they were starving and had been fed too little. Undernourished baby animals are also very placid, easy to manage and pleasing. They have no energy and do not ‘bother’ the parents with their mobility or needs. They are just starving.

There are a few reasons why vegetable/grain/nut milks do not work for babies. One reason is that they are low in protein or amino acids, needed for building babies’ brains and bodies. Human babies also have high needs for complex-chain fatty acids and carbohydrates (sugars) in a form the tender gut can digest. Another big factor is the gut flora that need to grow in a baby’s gut to optimise digestion and absorption. There is a close relationship between the gut flora and the immune system, and human breastmilk supports this relationship by providing the beneficial gut microbes and immune boosters. If a baby is fed with a ‘breastmilk substitute’, it needs to be scientifically assimilated from cow’s milk to make it digestible and to ensure the correct ratio of nutrients are present. Why this couple did not choose to breastfeed is not mentioned. It is possible that, on a vegan diet, the mother did not produce enough breastmilk. Another deficit that may occur in a vegan diet for a baby is a lack of vitamin B12. If the mother is vegan and breastfeeding, she needs to take supplements to ensure the baby gets enough vitamin B12 through breastmilk. Babies can die of vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is obtained from animal products such as milk, eggs, cheese and meat. Vitamin B12 is not available in any grain/nut/vegetable milk substitutes. When breastmilk and donor breastmilk are not available, the next best choice of milk for babies is infant formula.

The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is a set of recommendations to regulate the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats. The Code aims to contribute ‘to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants, by the protection and promotion of breastfeeding, and by ensuring the proper use of breast-milk substitutes, when these are necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution.’

The Code was formulated in response to the realisation that poor infant feeding practices were negatively affecting the growth, health and development of children, and were a major cause of mortality in infants and young children. The Code is complemented by a series of subsequent resolutions that further clarify and define its provisions.

Further reading

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