Your Lip Balm Might Be Doing More Harm Than Good

We never tend to question our go-to lip balm, but is it really as effective as we think?
Reading time 3 minutes
Staz Lindes photographed by Anairam for L'OFFICIEL Mexico October 2015.

No one likes dry lips—they are pesky, uncomfortable, and not conducive to kissing. That's why we have lip balm. With the wide array of brands and formulas out there, it's easy to grab one from the nearest drugstore and apply it with little apprehension. However, this may be where you're going wrong. Studies have shown that lip balm might be exacerbating dryness instead of remedying it. This is due to the fact that when the thin film of moisture from the lip balm evaporates, it dehydrates your lips even more. Then, when we reapply, it becomes a cycle. As a result, lip balms can only provide temporary comfort, and cannot be used as a long term treatment for irritated lips

The surface of our lips are comprised of three layers of cells.The outermost layer is made up of dead cells and is known as the stratum corneum. This is the protective layer of the lips, and forms a barrier intended to keep out damage and bacteria, but due to the fragility of the skin on the lips, it is not majorly effective, leaving the lips vulnerable to injury. Moreover, our lips don't have any hair follicles or oil glands of their own. Instead, the oil from glands around our lips provide us moisture. This is the only way our lips actually stay hydrated and healthy—lip products may offer a momentary sparkle or gleam, but as soon as they disappear our lips become stripped of any natural moisture. Most us enjoy giving our lips an eye-catching shine, but this is another common lip care mistake. Lustrous glosses can intensify damage from the sun's ultraviolet rays and cause your lips to burn and crack. That's why it is important to apply a sunscreen to your lips when your enjoying a sunny day, regardless of how silly it feels to do so. 



You should also look out for lip products that contain ingredients that can be harmful and irritating. Chemicals and compounds such as menthol, saliclyc acid alcohols, and cinnamic aldehyde are just a few of the common additives that can do more harm than good. These are especially troublesome for those of us who struggle with sensitive skin. If you are committed to using lip balm, regardless of its drying after effects, make sure you check labels first. The more natural the better. Coconut oil and shea are two skin and earth-friendly alternatives that can help treat seasonal dryness. However, the best thing you can do is hydrate your body altogether. There is nothing a little bit of water can't fix. 

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