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For as long as I can remember I have been a lip balm addict. It all started in junior high when an older boy I liked was really into mint chapstick. I bought the same one hoping he’d notice and decide it meant we were supposed to be together. He never did notice me –or that chapstick — but it didn’t matter because I was hooked. On the chapstick, that is.
For years after that I always had several lip balms with me wherever I went. My lips were always so dry and I was dependent on lip balm to get a hit of moisture where there was seemingly none. It never occurred to me that lip balms I was using could actually be contributing to the problem of my dry lips rather than being a part of the solution. But, that’s exactly what was happening and I only recently realized it.
I started questioning… Are lip balms safe!?
Although my from-scratch journey began a few years ago, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it took me a while to overhaul the personal care products I use and to rid my supply of the traditional store-bought stuff in favor of homemade and/or quality handcrafted natural products. The first thing I looked into changing was my lip balm, mostly because I use it so much. Once I took a good look at the ingredients I was horrified at what I had been putting on for the delicate skin of my lips for years.
So, the general question remains: Are lip balms safe? During my research I discovered that many lip balms are full of ingredients that are not good for your lips and can even be considered toxic. Let me explain what lip balm ingredients are NOT safe, and which are truly nourishing.
What ingredients should you avoid in a lip balm?
- Petrolatum (or petroleum) — Derived from crude oil and its processing causes impurities that could be possible carcinogens. And, petrolatum doesn’t let your skin breathe. So by applying it to your lips, you’re actually suffocating them rather than moisturizing and helping them heal.
- Parabens (like methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben) — Preservatives in skin and hair care products that mimic estrogen in the body. Estrogen interruptions have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues.
- Dyes and Fragrances — Many dyes and fragrances used to give lip balms (and lipstick) their colors also contain metals like aluminum and sometimes lead. They can irritate your lips rather than heal them.
- Salicylic Acid — This common acne fighting ingredient can cause your lips to dry out and peel, which is probably the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish when you apply lip balm, right?
So what ingredients DO you want in a lip balm?
- Carrier Oils & Butters — Look for ingredients like natural (organic is best), unprocessed oils –like coconut oil or almond oil– to truly add moisture to your lips. Learn all about different carrier oil options here. Learn all about body butters here.
- Wax — Natural waxes, like sustainably-sourced beeswax, act as natural protectors. So once you’ve added moisture, the wax will help seal it in.
- Vitamin E — And lastly, vitamin E acts as a powerful antioxidant and help fix previous sun or wind damage to your kisser. This should be the last ingredient in an ingredient list, as too much can be irritating, but a small amount is helpful.
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