Don’t let the title fool you - lip care is for all wind players, not just the girls. Especially when it’s cold outside and the humidity drops, chapped lips can quickly become a problem. (If you’ve ever had a split right where the reed sits on your bottom lip, you know exactly what I’m talking about!) Keep your lips flexible, comfortable, and ready to set the embouchure with these precautions:
Protect your lips.
There are so many inexpensive products out there that will put a protective layer between the delicate skin on your lips and the cold, biting winds of winter. These are most often colorless, which means guys - they won’t color your lips. Girls - if you like to wear lipstick, you don’t have to give up your favorite color, just apply the protective layer over your lipstick.
Heads up: the wax or petroleum base of most lip care products can make it a little difficult to play, so just use a tissue to wipe it away before you start playing. After you put the instrument away, reapply the product.
Shield your face.
Arctic blasts? Sheesh, we saw actual temperatures of -15 here in the midwest this winter! That’s not even taking wind chill into consideration. Brrr!! If you have to go out in really cold temperatures, put on a scarf while you’re bundling up, then cover your face with the scarf before you go outside. Or, turn up the collar on your coat while you’re outdoors.
Staying well-hydrated can also greatly help keep all of your skin, including your lips, in its best condition. We think about drinking enough water during the hot summer months, but it often doesn’t occur to us in colder weather. Keep a bottle of water with you for occasional sips during the day, along with during rehearsals and personal practice. The water you drink now is the water that your body uses later.
Treat chapped lips.
Already feeling like your lips are pretty rough? Try this trick: in a small dish, drop a spoonful of granulated sugar. Add just enough olive oil to make a grainy paste. Every couple of days, apply some of this paste to your lips and gently scrub, then give a short rinse with cool water. The sugar will help exfoliate that rough skin, the oil will moisturize the layer of skin underneath. Even better, finish off by applying your chosen product.
Healthy lips are soft and flexible enough to do the job of playing a wind instrument. Take just a few steps to keep them that way year-round. (Hot cocoa, anyone?)