Its the time of year that I struggle to keep my lips smooth – dry lips are a mainstay and I find myself depositing lip balms (all Hurraw! at the moment) in various pockets and bags to make sure I always have one on hand. The fact I ride my bike most places doesn’t help as the wind really dries lips out.
So why do our lips become dry and get chapped? Unlike most of the skin our face (around the eyes are the other exception) our lips don’t produce sebum and therefore don’t have the same level of protection from the elements. In addition they don’t contain the same level of melanin (skin pigment) as the rest of our skin so they tend to burn instead of tan when exposed to the sun. Here is where lip balm comes in. It is important however, to read the ingredients on your lip balm as many contain ingredients that you just don’t want to be eating.
The ingredients you do want in your lip balm are these:
- Coconut oil – a rich antioxidant oil it helps to protect against skin damage and is soothing particularly after wind or sun burn.
- Jojoba Oil – a waxy ester similar to the sebum produced naturally by skin, jojoba imitates the natural barrier effect. Non-greasy and smooth, it is ideal for dry lips.
- Shea butter – its amazing restoring properties mean Shea butter is a great addition to any lip balm. It also has natural UV filtering properties.
- Beeswax/Candellia/Caranuba wax – natural waxes hold in moisture without having an occlusive effect unlike mineral oil based products. They are also less sticky and have emollient and softening properties. Excellent prior to kissing!
- Cocoa butter – good for skin, this ingredient also smells divine and is smooth and healing and softening.
Ingredients to avoid in your lip balm:
- Petroleum jelly – an occlusive ingredient, petroleum jelly does stop moisture loss but it doesn’t improve the health of your skin or soften lips. There is also a risk that petroleum jelly may be contaminated with potentially toxic ingredients such as lead. As a non-renewable resource, it’s also a bad for the environment.
- Mineral oil – this ingredient has similar issues to petroleum jelly as it only temporarily holds in moisture and ultimately has a drying effect.
- Parabens – a common preservative, parabens have a hormone mimicking effect and will disrupt normal endocrine function.
- Artificial fragrances – Berry scents are the most common. Fragrances can contain up to 400 different ingredients and are a common source of phthalates, another hormone disruptor.
Brands we recommend (meaning they have been thoroughly road tested and are all good) include Hurraw!, Suvana, Only Papaya, Burt’s Bees and Organic Essence.