Ask a Dermatologist: What Lip Balm Ingredients to Avoid

Your lips are comprised of extremely thin layers of delicate skin which makes them prone to dryness and chapping. Lips do not have sebaceous glands and cannot produce the oils necessary to self moisturize. This causes lips to become dry, leaving you with painful chapped lips. Hydration is key to combatting painful chapping but most people don’t know that most lip balms contain ingredients that cause adverse effects.

Here is what our dermatology team said when asked what lip balm ingredients to avoid?

Avoid lip balms that contain menthol, camphor, phenol or any sort of alcohol.

These ingredients may provide an immediate cooling sensation but can irritate the skin. In some cases they even remove the outer layers of skin leaving your lips unprotected and susceptible to environmental hazards.

Look for ingredients that help hold moisture without irritating the skin.

These ingredients include glycerin, mineral oil, aloe, lactic acid or sorbita. Beeswax and vitamin E are great at sealing moisture in but can cause irritation if you have sensitive skin. For severely chapped lips Vaseline or Aquaphor should do the trick, but be sure not to over apply. Applying the right balm twice a day is usually enough.

Avoid fragrances and parabens.

When it comes to lip balm, the simpler the better. Fragrances are added to lip balms to make them smell and taste better, but they can often cause irritant reactions. One of the most common culprits are cinnamates which are often used for their sun-blocking properties and smell. Parabens such a s methylparaben and butylpharaben have been shown to have adverse health effects.

An SPF of 15 or higher is always recommended.

Your lips do not have the capacity to produce as much melanin as the rest of your skin so they need a little extra help blocking out harmful sun rays.