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Is your favorite lip balm making your chapped lips worse?

·2 mins

Rewritten Article

I stash lip balm everywhere: in my purse, bedroom drawer and car, to name a few spots. I have a better chance of finding a tube of lip balm than my keys. But despite applying lip balm every few hours, my chapped lips always come back. Even name-brand products provide temporary comfort.

So many different lip balm brands promise relief against dry chapped lips; however, not all lip balms are created equal. Some might even have the opposite effect. Instead of investing in an expensive lip treatment, dermatologists advise taking a second look at ingredient lists.

The problem with cracked or chapped lips is how easily they dry out. Think of your lips as an extension of the skin. Unlike the skin on other parts of your body, lips lack the protective layers to prevent a loss of moisture.

Lips cannot produce their own moisture, making them vulnerable to drying out when temperatures rise. Sun exposure can also burn lips, leaving them cracked, swollen, and irritated. Cold weather with low humidity and harsh winds further remove moisture from the lips, causing flaking.

Lip licking exacerbates the problem. The habit actually makes the lips drier as saliva wears away the moisture barrier. Constant licking creates a vicious cycle of dehydration.

Some ingredients in lip balms can also worsen the issue. Menthol or camphor can strip off the thin skin layer, increasing the chances of lips drying out. Beeswax, although it locks in moisture, may cause drier and itchier lips for those who are sensitive to it. Salicylic acid changes the pH balance on the lips, leading to further dehydration. Fragrances can also cause lip inflammation.

Dermatologists recommend using lip balm with petrolatum as the main ingredient. Petrolatum acts as an occlusive to preserve moisture without irritating the skin. Additionally, lip balms with SPF are recommended to protect against skin cancer and further dehydration. Shea butter and ceramide can help strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier.

Limit the use of lip scrubs as they remove healthy skin and make the lips more vulnerable to irritants. Consult a dermatologist if chapped lips persist or worsen, as they could be a symptom of an underlying health condition. Angular cheilitis, often mistaken for chapped lips, is an inflammatory skin condition that requires specific treatment.