Why Bother: How Effective Are Lip Balms Really?

Lip Balm Facts

The skin on our lips is sensitive and likely to fall victim to harsh weather and sun. Peeling, dry, cracked lips are not only uncomfortable but are also unsightly. We often carry ChapStick and other popular lip balms to help protect our lips; but do they really work? Let’s find out if lip balms are still worth using or if there are better options to keep our lips feeling their best.

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Our lips are sensitive due to many reasons. Filled with concentrated areas of receptors that alert our brain to the sensation of touch, our lips are much more sensitive than other areas of our bodies. Lips also contain a lower level of the cells that produce melanin, which is the substance that helps protect us from sun damage. An environmental website, ECO Evaluator, explains that since lips “don’t produce melanin […they] can easily burn,” quicker than the rest of our body. We want to keep our lips safe, so we want products, or—even better—natural ways to keep them hydrated and protected.  In fact, there are even household products that require no active effort on your part to help reduce chapped lips.  ECO Evaluator explains that “Lip balm, also known as a lip salve, is a substance […that works to protect lips] against damaging elements such as sun, wind, cold temperatures, and even dry air.” There are a countless number of lip balms on the market, so how do we know which ones are the most effective?

On a news website, Today, Dr. Mauro C. Romita explains, “Contrary to what most believe, [some] [lip balms] don’t hydrate the lips. Instead, they seal moisture out, so lips can’t absorb it!” But, what does this mean for our lips exactly? A health and beauty website, Shape, quotes dermatologist Jessica Krant, M.D who states “The wax or petrolatum in lip balm essentially creates a watertight barrier that prevents your internal skin moisture—which normally evaporates through the surface, especially on dry, cold, windy days—from escaping, softening your lips and keeping them feeling moist.”

Petrolatum, an ingredient that is found in many lip balms, not only works against natural skin care but it also clogs pores and makes skin susceptible to acne. Today points out that “lip balms that contain menthol, camphor, and peppermint might irritate your chapped lips” instead of sooth them. Check the ingredients in your lip balms before using it; unknowingly you may be fueling the problem.

Conversely, Today points out that cucumber can help heal lips as well. Alexis Wolfer, founder of a beauty on-line magazine, The Beauty Bean, says to “Cut [a cucumber] into slices and hold on lips, allowing the water in the cucumber to soothe and replenish your cracked lips,” Today states.

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Verdict: Fiction. In some cases, lip balms do more harm than good when it comes to keeping lips free of discomfort. Give cucumber a try, but if you still want some extra protection, be sure to use natural products that won’t make lips more irritated. ECO Evaluator suggests opting for natural lip balm.

“…Shea butter lip balm [is] a moisturizing lip balm that not only hydrates the cells in the lips, but also helps the lips regain their elasticity.”

Before purchasing, compare ingredients in lip balms to find the best choice for lips. ECO Evaluator reminds us that natural lip balms may include “carrot, avocado, hempseed, coco butter, aloe vera, jojoba, vitamin E, and wild crafted beeswax, among others.”  Speak with your doctor to find a natural lip balm that is safe for you to use.

What are some lip balm facts that really surprised you?


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