Whether caused by a harsh sun, or freezing winter temperatures, lips that are cracked, dehydrated, and chapped are miserable. The good news is that the same thing you use to grease your pan can also offer a protective coating to your lips.

Olive oil, in fact, has long been touted for its medicinal uses, especially in the Mediterranean, where olives were first cultivated around 5000 BC [Source: Group]. Today, while many drugstores have entire aisles devoted to a wide assortment of lip-care products, olive oil is still remarkably effective in keeping your lips soft and supple. It's an excellent moisturizer, and is actually a popular ingredient in many skin-conditioning products [source: Cosmetics Database], such as OluvLips.

Organic extra virgin olive oil is your best choice, due to its higher concentrations of healing antioxidants. [source: Group]. To condition and protect your lips from becoming chapped, use olive oil just the way you would use lip balm or petroleum jelly by applying a thin coating whenever your lips feel dry. For good measure, put a little on at night when you go to bed. You can even make your own lip balm by mixing olive oil and melted beeswax in a 1:1 ratio, adding an essential oil if you want to scent your balm [source: Clark Howard]. For something a little more involved, check out Crunchy Betty's homemade Luscious Lavender Lip Balm [source: Crunchy Betty].

You can also combine olive oil with sugar to make a simple lip scrub. Make a paste out of sugar and olive oil, and rub it on your lips [source: Sorgen]. The sugar will exfoliate the lips, getting rid of any dry, dead skin cells on the surface, while the residual olive oil will add hydration without clogging your pores, leaving your lips feeling smoother.

Keep in mind, however, that while olive oil might help keep your lips hydrated in a pinch, it probably won't work as well over the long-term as a moisturizing product specifically formulated to do the job. And while olive oil might be a terrific alternative for people who are either hypersensitive or allergic to traditional lipsticks or lip balms, the opposite can also be true. Because of its oily nature, using olive oil on your lips might cause breakouts and irritation on the skin around your mouth, especially if you already have oily skin.

Last, remember that olive oil has a limited shelf life. Depending on the type you use, olive oil will go bad after a while. Your best bet it to either buy a small bottle, or keep your olive oil in the refrigerator.

For more information about olive oil and its uses in skin care, visit the links on the next page.