Quick Question: Can Lip Balm Make Lips Feel Drier and More Chapped?

October 30, 2020
Samantha Holender
By: Samantha Holender | skincare.com by L'Oréal
Quick Question: Can Lip Balm Make Lips Feel Drier and More Chapped?

Balms and chapsticks are supposed to leave my lips feeling soft and hydrated, right? Logically the answer is yes, but I swear that sometimes I’m left with lips that feel more chapped than before. To find out why my lips won’t stay smooth, I turned to board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant Dr. Elizabeth Houshmand from Houshmand Dermatology in Dallas, Texas. Here, she’s sharing the reason behind chapped lips and what ingredients to check for before swiping on lip balm.

Can Lip Balm Dry Out Lips? 

While in theory chapstick, balms or conditioners should provide added moisture, they can actually end up doing just the opposite. “Some lip balms contain ingredients like phenol, menthol and salicylic acid that makes the lips drier so you end up having to apply more and more, and it becomes a vicious cycle,” says Dr. Houshmand. “They can cause a tingling feeling when you apply them and can cause irritation or remove outer layers of the skin.” 

She explains that when a lip product has these exfoliating properties, it strips the lips and makes them more susceptible to environmental factors like cold weather, wearing a protective face mask or irritation from spicy foods. “It’s also important to limit your use of lip balms containing scents or added flavoring because the chemicals could irritate your skin, cause an allergic reaction or dry out the area and leave it feeling more chapped.” 

What Type of Lip Conditioner Is Best? 

When choosing a lip product, it’s important to look at the ingredient list. Instead of using a lipstick or balm with drying waxes, Dr. Houshmand recommends opting for emollient ointments that can be applied with the tips of your fingers. “Look for simple, petroleum-based jelly products because these will keep the lips moist and prevent future chapping,” she says. “Hemp seed oil, castor seed oil and mineral oil are all great ingredients for healing chapped lips.” 

It’s also important to choose a lip product that is formulated with sun protection. “Find a lip gloss or lipstick that’s at least SPF 30, too, because we do see skin cancer on the lips.” One product to try? The Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 30. It comes in a clear shade as well as five tinted hues. 

Equally as important as selecting lip products that won’t dry out your lips is applying them liberally throughout the day. Dr. Houshmand also recommends using an emollient or occlusive ointment, like the CeraVe Healing Ointment, before bed and in the morning. “I apply it heavily in the A.M. and let it absorb before putting on my protective face mask because it helps avoid dry, dehydrated lips,” she says. While this should be sufficient to keep your lips hydrated, a lip scrub can also be useful if your lips are extremely dry or flaky. 

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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