Lip balm can sometimes feel like a lifesaver, especially in the cold winter months when lips can become more chapped than ever. While there might be an underlying medical condition causing your dry lips, weather and other environmental factors are usually the culprit.
The skin of your lips is thinner than skin on the rest of your body, and the lips do not have sebaceous glands, meaning they don't make oils to keep the lips moisturized. This is why lips become chapped and peel so easily. Using lip balm can help increase your overall lip health and soothe dry, cracked lips.
You should stick to a lip balm that contains natural ingredients and does not use scents or added flavoring. Lip balms containing phenol, menthol or salicylic acid actually dry the lips out instead of moisturizing them. These ingredients act as an exfoliant, removing the outer layer of your skin, making your lips even more vulnerable to environmental factors. Added scents or flavorings can also dry out the lips due to allergies and irritation. Instead of helping, lip balms with these ingredients could make your lips worse. Some common lip allergens include citrus, mint, tea tree, eucalyptus and camphor.
You should keep things simple when searching for a lip balm. Simple, petroleum-based jelly products keep the lips moist and prevent future chapping. Another good tip is to use a lip balm that slides on like lipstick and doesn't require application using your fingers. Unless you wash your hands before every application, you are giving bacteria and germs easy access to your mouth every time you put on lip balm.
It might sound silly, but many people develop a psychological addiction to lip balm. Applying lip balm can become habit-forming because it feels good, soothes the lip and is comforting. Like biting your nails, it can morph into an unconscious habit that occurs when you are stressed or anxious. Lip balm that causes an allergic reaction, unbeknownst to you, also causes a never-ending cycle of application--you apply lip balm, your lips feel even more chapped, so you keep applying it. Go to a hypoallergenic lip moisturizer and see if that breaks the application cycle.
Your lips can benefit greatly from lip balm, as long as you are using the right type with the right ingredients. Search out lip balms that are all-natural and include ingredients that will actually moisturize your skin instead of drying it out even more.