Chapped Lips: Is Your Favorite Lip Balm a Joke?

In the new movie Greenberg, there’s one joke that I could’ve written myself. Commenting on the cranky title character’s chapstick “addiction,” his friend actually reveals the true cause of Greenberg’s seemingly compulsive behavior: The more you these popular petroleum-based lip balms, the drier your lips get.

Thirsty Lips and Synthetic Moisturizers: A Vicious Cycle Ironic isn’t it? The very products we rely on to moisten and soothe the fragile skin on our lips do the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to do. Instead of hydrating and nourishing new cells in the skin’s deeper layers, the main ingredients in synthetic lip balms—petroleum and mineral oil derivatives—merely sit on the surface. In addition to actually repelling moisture, this greasy surface film often contains potentially irritating chemicals such as phenyl salicylate that can irritate and inflame sensitive skin. Eliminating Chemical Accomplices Cracking and peeling can be further aggravated by toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain guaiazulene, sodium lauryl sulfate, or other harsh chemicals. In some cases, severe, chronic chapping is related to a medical problem such as an autoimmune disorder, so if eliminating synthetic products doesn’t help, you should consult with your doctor.

Replenish and Revitalize with a Healthy a Dose of Green Medicine To help your chapped lips recover from the ravages of dry weather and chemical irritants, I recommend trying one of the new green lip balms that have recently become available. But before you take out your wallet, read the label. Many so-called natural products contain the very ingredients you want to avoid. To hydrate, nourish, and restore the youthful luster of your lips, opt for lip balms made with natural beeswax or plant-derived moisturizers and lubricants, such as shea butter; sunflower, grapeseed, avocado, and almond oils; and honey.

I’ll explain the special benefits of honey as a natural skin healer in my next blog post.

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