Some Lip Balms Make Chapped Lips Worse—Here Are the Ingredients You Should Avoid
By Emily Petsko
It’s officially lip balm season. Cold, dry weather conditions can make your lips chapped and cracked, so it’s a good idea to stock up on moisturizing ointments for winter. But before you go out and buy the first product you see, check the ingredients. Some products could end up drying out your lips even more and perpetuating the cycle (especially if you overuse them). Here are a few tips for keeping your chapped lips in check this season:
1. Avoid lip balms with salicylic acid.
This ingredient, which is found in some acne medicines, helps remove dead skin cells and soften your lips. However, it may also irritate your skin and cause inflammation and dryness over time, as New York-based dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner told Refinery29.
2. Stay away from phenol, menthol, and camphor.
These are a few other common ingredients that Dr. Zeichner suggests avoiding. They can cause dryness in the long run, even if they seem to be helping at first. “Yes, they soothe immediately, but in the long term may be irritating to the lips,” Zeichner said.
3. Ditch the fragrance.
This might be a tough one for lovers of minty and fruity-smelling balms, but fragrances can irritate your lips—especially if you already have sensitive skin. "Many people actually have allergies or other reactions to fragrances that are put in lip balms to make them smell and taste a little better, and those are really the cause of most of the irritant reactions,” Dr. Diane Madfes, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology, told Prevention magazine. If your lips are severely chapped, try switching to a non-scented lip balm to see if it makes a difference.
4. Balance out drying agents with oils and butters.
Many lip balms contain humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which means they remove moisture from your lips if they’re not offset by an occlusive agent, which prevents the loss of moisture. So, as dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD points out to StyleCaster, if you see either of these ingredients in a lip balm, make sure it also contains an occlusive agent such as beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil, mineral oil, petrolatum, or squalene.