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The surface of your lips is much thinner than the rest of your skin, which is why, if you're fair, you can see the blood vessels underneath, says Marsha Gordon, MD, vice chairperson of the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. This delicate constitution means your lips are particularly prone to dryness—and your tongue doesn't help the situation. "We're constantly licking our lips, and as that saliva evaporates, they get even drier," Gordon explains. Protect against moisture loss with a lip balm that contains petrolatum or mineral oil, which won't rub (or lick) off easily. Apply a light coat over your lipstick.

You know that myth about becoming "addicted" to balm? Doctors say there's no truth to the theory that, in a bid to guarantee repeat business, manufacturers spike their products with ingredients that make lips drier. Chronically chapped lips could be a sign of an allergy, though. If you face constant cracking and flaking, go cold turkey on everything you put on your lips and apply petroleum jelly as often as you can, says Gordon. Then add products back one by one until you pinpoint the culprit (which is often lanolin).

The muscles in your lips see a lot of action (especially if you're lucky enough to lead a life that includes frequent kissing, sipping, and bubble blowing), so that area is prone to developing fine lines. To prevent them, apply sunscreen between your upper lip and nose, and use a topical retinoid (like Retin-A, Renova, Avage, or Tazorac) at night to build collagen and thicken the skin. Ablative lasers can resurface the skin, and hyaluronic acid fillers (branded as Hylaform, Restylane, Juvéderm, and Perlane) can temporarily plump up the lines. Botox helps smooth lines by relaxing some of the muscles around the mouth—but it must be used very carefully, in very small amounts. (Because lip lines will be the least of your worries if you're drooling on yourself.)

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