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I’ve tried a heap of lip balms over the years. Some feel like they’ve made my lips worse. Some have been great… but then they’ve changed the formulation! But it got me thinking, is there a definitive list of the lip balm brands to avoid? No? Then why don’t I compile one…?
So, I did some research and it turns out that there’s a couple of really good brands (I’ve got a note of my top one below). Then there’s a whole load of brands that everyone seems to loathe.
We’ll take a look at a few common questions about lip balms in this article (and dispel a couple of myths) and then we’ll take a look at those brands to steer clear of.
Brand to choose: O’Keeffe’s Lip Balm
I love this little tube. O’Keeffe’s Lip Balm is totally awesome. I first got into it after using Lypsyl Original for many many years, until one day they changed the formula and suddenly it was just awful. Hunting around I found O’Keeffe’s and what a transformation. I went from feeling as if my lips were always on the verge of a complete meltdown, to feeling soft and kissable (so my partner tells me <3 )
Interestingly, with Lypsyls I’d usually go through about one stick a month, depending on the season. In the year after I discovered O’Keeffe’s I only had to buy two sticks, and I’d just started the second one on my 1st Year O’Keeffe’s Anniversary. Great stuff and it comes in a handy oval stick that won’t be forever rolling off your desk Read more+
What is a lip balm?
Okay, let’s kick off by confirming what we’re talking about here. According to my trusty school dictionary, a lip balm is a “preparation that comes in a stick or a small tub and that is applied to the lips to soothe dryness and chapping”. I think that’s clear enough? It’s a lip balm or a lip salve, but not a lipstick, or a lip gloss.
That’s enough for our purposes today. As an aside though, did you know that one of the original recommendations for chapped lips back in the 19th century was… earwax…? Thankfully we have plenty of better options available to us today!
Best lip balm ingredients?
I think we can probably all agree that earwax definitely isn’t on the list of ingredients that we’re looking for in a lip balm.
So, what are the best ingredients for soothing our dry lips?
According to Dr. Aleksandar Krunic, a dermatologist at Swedish Covenant Hospital, look for a simple list of including the following:
- Moisturizers such as Vaseline, beeswax (sometimes listed as Cera alba), and ceramides (which are fats that help the skin retain fluid)
- 5% or less of humectants such as urea or glycerin which increase water content, help prevent cracked skin and reduce skin irritation
- Dimethicone which can help to prevent the lip balm from drying out and make it last longer
- Lanolin or cocoa butter which helps soften, moisturize and protects the lips
How often should you apply lip balm?
WebMD says that, when you have dry and chapped lips, you should apply a lip balm “early and often” with “six to eight coats” per day, so apply a coat in the morning when you get up, last thing before bed at night, and maybe once every couple of hours in the day.
That’s a routine that I tend to follow and it works for me. I keep a lip balm on my bedside cabinet for the morning and evening applications. Then a second one in my pocket for use through the day.
Does Carmex have glass in it?
This is an urban legend that’s been around for a long time, hasn’t it? Sorry to say that it’s probably not true at all. Remember all those whispers about your lip balm being filled with glass shards that make you want to reapply all the time? The Cut reports that the real reason you’re addicted has more to do with other ingredients possibly irritating your skin: lanolin, salicylic acid, beeswax, or benzocaine.
Which lip balm brands should I avoid?
Dr. Krunic suggests that you avoid the following:
- Fragrances or artificial colors
- Menthol, camphor, and phenol – these help cool your lips but they can also dry them out
- Salicylic acid – avoid this if you’re allergic to aspirin
- Aloe butter
- Vitamin E (tocopherols)
Many of these will be familiar as they’re often found in other skincare products, however, your lips are much more sensitive than other areas of skin. So that means that even aloe butter and vitamin E, often seen as restoratives, can irritate.
The following are all well-known brands, but each contains at least one of these ingredients.
Carmex: it’s on our list, but not because of those playground myths about it containing glass (see above – it’s not true!) The reason it’s here is because it apparently contains 3 of the ingredients on Dr. Krunic’s list of ingredients to avoid: camphor, menthol and salicylic acid. Salicylic acid, in particular, which can cause skin irritation, leading to inflammation and dryness, if you’re sensitive to it Read more+
Burt’s Bees: This used to be a favorite of mine in days gone by, but then I began to notice that the minty cooling effect was starting to become much less pleasant on my lips. Turns out that Burt’s Bees apparently contains Mentha Piperita (peppermint) oil and tocopherol Read more+
EOS: Those little spheres and pastel colors are great, aren’t they? Well, they are, but there’s been quite a bit of bad PR and legal action in recent years, with allegations that the product can cause blistering, rashes, and other negative effects. You and I may have no problems with using this product, but it’s worth being aware of those claims Read more+
When you look at the vast selection of lip balms it’s sometimes hard to tell which are the good ones and which are the bad. If you’re anything like me, you’ll just end up trying one after the other, hoping you’ll eventually find the one that’s right for you.
Hopefully, you’ve found the results of my research useful and it’s helped you to choose a good lip balm and avoid some of the bad ones. If I’ve answered a few questions for you (including dispelling some myths!) then that’s fantastic. Just do me a favour and don’t try the earwax thing, okay?
What else can I say? There are definitely some lip balm brands to steer clear of but I’m happy with my O’Keeffe’s!
**The reviews in our articles are based on customer reviews, star ratings, and online complaints. Therefore ThisButNotThat are in no way liable**