Lip balm has been a health and beauty staple for years. Many people use it every day of their lives to keep their lips feeling smooth and fresh. Interestingly enough, many formulas on the market actually include ingredients that can irritate and dry out lips, keeping us in a cycle of needing more and more lip balm. Sources like CNN ( report that there can be serious medical consequences associated with common allergens and irritants in this popular product.
That’s why the team at Reviews.com took an in-depth look at 177 leading formulas to determine which have ingredients to keep lips moisturized long-term. They dug into scientific studies and ingredient lists and hand-tested the top 25 products for user-friendliness.
Through this search, they found 5 important factors choosing a lip balm:
Irritants: Camphor, phenol, and menthol
Oftentimes lip balms will advertise that they are “medicated” and give that tingly, cooling sensation that we’re all familiar with. These are ingredients that are commonly used as acids in exfoliating exercises, like chemical peels. And while exfoliating dry, chapped lips seems like a great idea, this sensitive tissue needs to be repaired, not stripped away. Menthol and camphor will certainly provide a cooling sensation to numb lips, but this can actually burn when used on sore and chapped skin. What’s more, this can make skin sensitive to the sun as well.
Allergens: Vitamin E, Fragrances, Beeswax, and Lanolin
Allergens are experienced differently by our unique systems, however, some common ones are important to avoid. Interestingly enough, Vitamin E has been found to cause contact dermatitis in a wide group of people. Similarly, many lip balm formulas include fragrances and dyes as well. While they’re not all going to be downright bad for skin, these kinds of ingredients open the door for allergic irritation on the skin.
Beeswax is very common in lip balms because it moisturizes well. And while it’s not necessarily something that must be avoided, some of the components of beeswax can be irritating, which is important to be aware of. And lastly, the moisturizing alcohol lanolin (derived from wool) is known to cause dermatitis on contact for some people. This is a less common ingredient, but still important to keep an eye out for.