One of the first thoughts people have when they experience dry lips, is to reach for lip balms or “chap-stick”. It is such a common practice that it is estimated that over 70% of the entire US population has used one form of lip balm or another during the past year. However, it hasn’t worked out well for a significant number of people.
Lip Balms Help or Hurt?
The list of offenders is longer than you’d imagine. First, the best defense is to prevent the dryness from occurring in the first place. Dry, cracked or swollen lips can be caused by weather extremes such as overly windy, dry or cold conditions. They also be caused by allergies, infections, and some medications. In addition, many skin care products can cause dry and allergic skin conditions. Last but not least, drinking too much caffeine, alcoholic drinks or not staying hydrated can all play a causative role in dry lips. A lack of daily hydration, meaning drinking water throughout the day is a one of the most common causes. In fact, it is the number one trigger for many other skin conditions as well.
We talked about the barrier function last month and how important it is to the skin. The barrier function must have adequate water to function properly.
Ingredients in Lip Balms
We have a customer who in “her” words, was addicted to lip balms. She made it her mission to try every single one on the market and make comparisons, trying to find the one she thought was the best. She used so many over a short span of time that she actually became severely allergic to them. Let’s take a closer look at the 18 ingredients found in the most common lip balm on the market, the “Chapstick” brand. Here is what we found:
- Arachidyl propionate- amber colored semi-solid wax
- Camphor – potential skin irritant
- Carnauba wax – wax from Palm leaves
- Cetyl alcohol – known to cause contact dermatitis in some people
- Fragrance – synthetic
- Isopropyl lanolate – chemically modified form of lanolin
- Isopropyl myristate – encourages skin absorption, used in flea & tick preparations & used to kill head lice
- Lanolin – wool grease from sheep
- Mineral oil – typically distilled from petroleum
- Menthol – provides cooling sensation – synthetically formulated
- Methylparaben – Paraben family of preservatives, concerns of being hormone distruptor
- Octyldodecanol – skin conditioning agent, used as solvent
- Paraffin – waxy substance for coating and sealing made from distillates of wood, coal, petroleum & shale
- Phenyl trimethicone – Silicon based polymer, concerns of bio-accumulation
- Propylparaben – Paraben family of preservatives – suspected endocrine system disruptor
- Red 6 Lake color – a red pigment precipitated with metal salts
- Saccharin – artificial sweetener, made from coal tar
- White wax – Beeswax mixed with Carnuba
Would you really want to put these ingredients on your lips? It is no wonder that people have allergic reactions. In addition, many if these items should never be ingested, but when you lick your lips, guess what happens? Yet, Chapstick is a best-selling brand.
Compare this to our 7 ingredient, 100% organic non-waxy lip balm:
- Organic coconut oil,
- Organic shea butter,
- Organic cocoa butter,
- Organic avocado oil,
- Organic beeswax,
- Organic flavor oil
- Gluten free Vitamin E
But let’s be fair. When balms are commercially produced, they have to be made to last a very long time in very different environments. They have to last from production, through shipping …possibly long distances, storage in various temperature extremes and then who knows how long on a store shelf? Ingredients oxidize over time, meaning the quality of the product become compromised. If there is oxygen, there is oxidation. If there ever was a great example of the importance of buying local….this is it.
This is why we produce our organic lip balm in small batches. We minimize the amount of beeswax leaving a product that is more “balm” than “wax”. We want the organic, nutritive oils to come through and feed the lips, keeping them soft and moist for longer than an hour or two. Our goal is for customers to apply balm only once or twice a day as needed.
Remember the best defense if to keep them from becoming dry in the first place. If you still struggle, opt for only organic ingredients and feed your lips naturally.