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  • Lacy Walker

Are You Addicted to Lip Balm?

Updated: May 12, 2023


The lips play an important role in facial aesthetics, and many people are concerned with the health and appearance of their lips because they can be prone to various conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your lips form between the 4th and 7th weeks of pregnancy. (1)


As a baby develops during pregnancy, body tissue and special cells from each side of the head grow toward the center of the face and join to form the face. (1) This joining of tissue forms the facial features, like the lips and mouth. It is essential to maintain hydrated lips often to avoid the discomfort of dry, wrinkly, and scaly lips.


Causes of Dry Lips


Dry lips are more common in winter, and frequent exposure to hot or dry winds can cause loss of plasticity of keratin in the vermillion, leading to sores and dry, scaly lips. Other causes include dehydration, certain medications causing dry mouth, inadequate salivary flow, chemotherapy, diet, and environmental factors.


Lip Balms


Lip balm is an essential product for anyone dealing with dry lips. It helps to moisturize and protect the lips from environmental irritants and the sun. Many lip balms contain beeswax, shea butter, and plant oils to help nourish the lips. Some balms also include ingredients such as salicylic acid to help exfoliate dry skin and SPF to guard against sun damage. However, the AAD recommends avoiding products containing salicylic acid due to its ability to irritate the lips. It is important to be aware of other potential irritants in lip balms, such as fragrances and dyes, which can cause further irritation. Choosing a lip balm with natural ingredients can help you avoid these potential irritants and keep your lips feeling softer and smoother.


Ingredients to Avoid


According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), they recommend using non-irritating lip balm, lipstick, and other products you apply to your lips. Many people mistake discomfort, such as burning, stinging, or tingling, as a sign that the active ingredients in a product are working; however, that is not what is happening. You are actually irritating your lips, so you want to stop using any product that irritates your lips.


To help chapped lips heal, the AAD recommends stopping applying lip products that contain any of the following (2):


Camphor

Eucalyptus

Flavoring: Cinnamon, citrus, mint, and peppermint flavors can be especially irritating to dry, chapped lips

Fragrance

Lanolin

Menthol

Octinoxate or oxybenzone

Phenol (or phenyl)

Propyl gallate

Salicylic acid


Ingredients to look for:


While some ingredients can irritate dry, cracked lips, others can help them heal. When looking for products to use on your chapped lips, dermatologists from the AAD recommend ones that contain one or more of the following (2):


Castor seed oil

Ceramides

Dimethicone

Hemp seed oil

Mineral oil

Petrolatum

Shea butter

Sun-protective ingredients, such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide

White petroleum jelly


It also helps to use products that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.

Lip balms made of low-quality ingredients can harm the lips and may dehydrate them rather than moisturize them.


Are you addicted?


There is no need to worry about being addicted to lip balm as the ingredients cannot cause dependency; it is more of just a habit.

Healthcare providers are aware of different lip conditions, disorders, abnormalities, and diseases associated with the lips because the lips may display clinical manifestations of underlying conditions, both locally and systemically. The lips can become chapped due to underlying conditions such as medication, harsh cold weather conditions, autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome, and dehydration. Make sure to ask your healthcare provider for more information about the health of your lips.


A CE course, All About the Lips, is coming soon!


References

1. Facts about cleft lip and cleft palate (2022) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/cleftlip.html (Accessed: March 24, 2023).

2. 7 dermatologists' tips for healing dry, Chapped Lips (no date) American Academy of Dermatology. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/dry/heal-dry-chapped-lips

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