Fact or Fiction: Does Lip Balm Make Chapped Lips Worse?

One issue that plagues many of us during the winter months is dry, chapped lips. As you brace yourself for the impending cold weather, you might be thinking of stocking up on lip balm. You’ll go through stick after stick, continually applying the waxy balm throughout the season to lips that don’t seem to be getting any less chapped. Isn’t lip balm supposed to correct the problem?

Chapped Lips Applying Lip Balm

Not necessarily. Many lip balm “addicts” have found that ChapStick is an all-too-appropriate name—it only makes chapped lips worse. Before we dive into whether or not your lip balm is actually to blame, let’s consider what it’s designed to do. According to ChapStick’s website, “the product forms a specially designed lipid complex hydrophobic base that forms a barrier to prevent moisture loss and to protect lips from the drying effects of cold weather and wind.” In less clinical terms, the wax in the balm forms a shield to keep the elements from drying out your lips. But this wax barrier works both ways: while it does keep moisture from escaping, it also doesn’t allow any moisture in. If you’re constantly reapplying ChapStick, your dry lips never get the chance to absorb the moisture they so desperately need.

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The other factor that contributes to chapped lips is licking them. Most people don’t realize just how often they lick their lips, which is a little bit gross but also really bad for your lip skin—your saliva contains enzymes that break down down the natural (or artificial) barrier protecting your lips from moisture loss. When your lips are already dry, common lip balm ingredients like menthol, camphor and peppermint can further irritate the skin, which is another reason ChapStick won’t fix your chapped lips.

Verdict: Fact, if you don’t let your lips properly heal in the first place. From both professional recommendations and personal experience, the best lip balm out there is good old-fashioned Vaseline. This is not only a super-effective moisture lock, but it heals that painful cracked skin that can occur with over-dry lips. To remove dead, peeling skin (ew), do NOT pick at your lips or bite it off! Make a sugar scrub to exfoliate, then apply a lip moisturizer with plenty of healing vitamins like A and E.

Also on Absolute Health: Make Up Essentials 

How do you combat chapped lips?

Photo: Thinkstock


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