Saturday, January 8, 2011

Chappiness is a Cold Gun...

Get it? Huh, huh, huh? OK, I know it's bad, but regardless of my creative lapse of judgement, the season of lip smacking dryness is in full swing. Lip balm is a precious commodity in my household, I have no fewer than 3 types just in the room I'm currently sitting in. Lips are especially prone to dryness because they don't contain oil glands- when the arid weather hits, it becomes vital to protect them. Here's a few pointers on what to look for, as well as a few of my current favorites!

-Look for a balm that contains emollient ingredients. Nut butters (like cocoa butter, shea butter, etc...) Oils (and yes, mineral oil is good. I repeat, mineral oil is GOOD), lanolin and petroleum (like Vaseline) are all good emollients.

-Stay away from balms that contain menthol, camphor, phenol, or any mint oil. These ingredients are surprisingly common in some very popular brands (Carmex, and Blistex to name a couple) and are irritants. These ingredients are the root of the myth that lips can become "dependent" on lip balm, or that balms make chapped skin worse. If you're applying irritants to your lips, they will remain chapped. Period.

-Skip balms that are mostly wax based without emollients like the ones listed above appearing higher on the ingredient list- wax just forms a barrier, it won't do anything to add moisture to the skin (which is what will actually relieve chapping).

-Don't forget sunscreen! I know I've talked about this before, but it bears repeating. Sun burnt lips have pretty much the same symptoms as chapped lips- dry, red, peeling...and if the damage is from the sun, those aren't your only concerns. Why risk it?

My current favorite balm is, believe it or not, Aquaphor. If you don't have a baby's butt in your general vicinity on a regular basis, you may not be familiar with this stuff, and while there isn't a whole lot to it, what's in there does the trick. I buy the regular old formula in the 3 oz "Baby" tube which runs a whole $6.99. Oddly, the 1.75 oz non-baby tube is only a buck cheaper, and is the same exact thing, so even sans-butts, it's a better deal. Another trick that's helped me a lot is that I put my CeraVe cream on my lips day and night, then seal in that moisture with the Aquaphor. Works like a charm.

For a great day-time option, I love my Sleek Pout Polishes. They're chock full of emollients, SPF, and just enough color for me. I know the company seems a bit sketchy right now (check out the comments on their Facebook page if you're unaware) but that doesn't change the fact that the product is fantastic. If you're looking for a similar option and don't mind a higher price tag, MAC's Tinted Lip Conditioners look VERY similar. As in almost I smell a Drugstore Dupe showdown ahead?

What's your favorite winter-time lip saver? Do you have any secrets for keeping your pout smooth? Don't lurk, share!!!


Eplefe said...

The Morbid the Merrier's lip balms have become my holy grail lipbalms, as well as the Lip Butters from OHWTO. Love love love.

Musing on Beauty said...

Very interesting! I have weird lips, there are things that are supposed to help (like Cold Cream lipbalms) that actually make things worse on me :)
My HG is Nuxe Reve de Miel lipbalm, which is now available on the US (, I use it every night before going to sleep so I wake up with perfect lips :)

Stacey said...

This is a great post, thanks :)

Unknown said...

Eplefe & Musing,

Thanks for the suggestions, I'm always on the look out for great moisturizers, lip balms included. I've used OHWTO's whipped bathing creams & am quite fond, so I'll have to add a lip butter to my next order! The other brands I'm nit familiar with...yet :)

The Student's Guide To Nail Polish said...

My lips are chapped year round if I don't wear balm, not just in winter. It's quite odd because I don't lick them or anything.
I personally like Palmer's Cocoa Butter Lip Balm, the one in the stick. It's nice and soft and doesn't feel like there's anything heavy on your lips.

Lmao, I was wondering when someone else would mention the comments on Sleek's facebook page...even though they delete them quite often and have removed the ability to comment on the actual wall. They don't respond to emails either.

Unknown said...

Interesting points, thank you for sharing!

I've just started using Jack Black's intense therapy lip balm w/natural mint which the ingredients list as mint for aroma, nothing about mint oil specifically... Do you know if these one in the same?

Unknown said...

Jennifer Leigh,
To my knowledge, any form of mint can be irritating to the skin and should generally be avoided when it comes to curing dry lips. Having said this, concentration matters, and if the mint was at the end of the list, I'd be less worried, especially if the product has tons of other beneficial stuff.

If the ingredient listing on is correct, your Jack Black balm has tons of good stuff- but unfortunately, the mint is listed first, meaning there's more mint than any other ingredient. Bummer, because otherwise this stuff seems perfect!

Of course, I'm not a dermatologist or cosmetic chemist. Personally, seeing so many beneficial ingredients in this balm, I wouldn't rule out at least giving it a try. Just be a but wary, and I'd say if you use this faithfully for a week or so and aren't seeing improvement when your lips are bare, then move on to something else. I did notice JB makes a couple other flavors, they may be a better option than the mint.

Let us know what you decide!

Unknown said...

Thanks for answering my question, Jessica :) I will know to keep an eye on my lips and see if they seem to have any negative effects from the mint.

The thing was I didn't even mean to get mint so I *will* have to give the other ones a try after I get through this tube.

Turboweevel said...

When I wne t to NYC for christmas the weather was so dry that my lips immediately got all dry, crackly and crusty. MAC's lipbalm didn't help (i actually find it a bit weak in general) and neither did The Body Shop's. They did nothing. So I got myself a tube of Carmex and it fixed me right up overnight. Strangely enough, the H2O+ repairing balm i left home, that is also my go to when there's damage to be fixed, smells very minty too. It seems mints, despite being irritants, do serve a function here.

Shattered said...

I have to second The Morbid The Merrier's balms, they are pretty awesome. OHWTO is on my list to try.

On the other hand, I developed a petroleum allergy about 5 years ago, and vaseline, mineral oil, all that stuff causes chemical burns on me.

Unknown said...


When I wrote this, I half expected some back lash from people like yourself. I know plenty of people that are absolutely devoted to Carmex. Obviously, everyone's skin is different and will react differently to products.

I have several lip products with peppermint oil and have never had a reaction to them, but remember this post is specifically talking about repairing dry skin and broken, damaged, chapped lips.

Having said that, I don't just make this stuff up, I promise. Here are a few references regarding irritating effects of the ingredients I mentioned in my post:

Of course, sometimes proof is in the pudding, so if you find that something works for you, by all means, stick with it!

Unknown said...


Thanks for the second vote for Morbid's balms- honestly, I wasn't familiar with the brand until this post, but it sounds like I'll have to check them out!

I'm sorry about your petroleum allergy- it must be such a pain to have to restrict something so commonly used.

I do want to mention for my other readers who may be concerned; petroleum allergies are EXTREMELY rare. Petroleum is considered "non-sensitizing" and is actually used as the base allergens are applied in when doctors do patch tests.

One study that spanned over a decade and included over 79,000 people determined that allergic reactions to petroleum occurred in less than .03% of the population.

Of course, there are people out there that are allergic to sun and oxygen; I myself have a deadly allergy to an extremely common medication that's saved millions upon millions of lives.

I only mention this because I know that petroleum products (including mineral oil) have a lot of unwarranted negative associations.

In my opinion, these perceptions are perpetuated by many cosmetic companies, who feed on petroleum's negative reputation to justify the use of more expensive ingredients that can net them higher profits on their products. But that's another post. Of course, my friend Molly did a bang-up post on mineral oil in cosmetics a couple of years ago, definitely a must-read.

Unknown said...

Just a tip not a balm..
If you mix 1/2 teaspoon glucerine to 1Tablespoon distilled water and dab it on your lips before going out in the cold it will sheild your lips from the drying elements. Works great in summer as well for before swimming in chlorinated water.

The Fabulous Ms. Beth said...

totally glad to hear that I'm not the only one putting baby butt cream (aquaphor) on my lips. It really is an awesome lip balm and keeps my lips soft!

Unknown said...

I've been known to use Lansinoh breast cream too, just thought that recommendation might be a little too "out there" for the general public! Nonetheless, I did tell my sister to use it when we were at the hospital (she just had a baby!) and the nurse overheard & agreed :) Moms rule at multi-tasking!!!

Shattered said...


You're right, it is quite rare. In fact, I have yet to come across another person with the allergy, even online.

I am lucky in that primary derivatives (petroleum, petrolatum, mineral oil, paraffin) are what I've had to eliminate, while the stuff that's a little further removed I haven't had much reaction to. I'm also lucky that there are some bigger companies that are experimenting with non-petroleum formulas - Softlips, for example.

My biggest pet peeve with petroleum is that, while I will agree it has some purposes, the general public is fairly miseducated on it. For example, I see far too many people call it a moisturizer or moisturizing ingredient, but if you do research, you learn that's just not right because the body can't actually absorb petroleum; it just sits ontop of the skin or lips, or passes through the body. Of course, that's what makes it good for anti-chapping and diaper rash; it's forming a barrier.

What doesn't help is I have seen companies perpetuate this sort of misinformation, too (I trust Vaseline about as far as I can throw a house).

Anastasia said...

I use savlon for sore, chapped lips. Often the skin around my lips gets sore in winter, savlon is just a regular antiseptic skin healing cream that you use on cuts etc here.

I'll use that, and after about 6-12 hours the skin will be healed and no longer sore. It can make my skin dry though, so I use it until I'm not sure, then exfoliate with a sugar scrub and go back to using lip balm. Epically Epic make my favourites; the flavours are fantastic and they use pistachio butter rather than shea butter, so they never go grainy.

I hate using a lip balm over extremely dry or chapped lips, because it just tends to make my dry skin feel greasy.

Shea Butter said...

MAC's Tinted Lip Conditioners - This product is BY FAR the best MAC product EVER! This is the second time i've bought this. Its so pretty and moisturizing! Im so amazed at this :D This product helped my lips sooo much! Its so soft after you use it. It smells and tastes sweet like vanilla :) This is a very good investment if you have dry/flakey lips. It helps it immediately. Scrubbing your lips with sugar and extra virgin olive oil will work too but it doesn't last forever. The packaging it so nice, sheik and small that you can carry it around with you anywhere. This only downside is that you have to use your fingers or a lipbrush. But all in all, I am IN LOVE with this! :D

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