Chapped and dry lips seem to be on everyone’s list of skincare complaints, making lip balm an extremely popular product for instant relief. However, we have to be careful which lip balms we are using, because many, in particular the brands that use petroleum jelly, are not good for our overall health.
You might be familiar with the stat that the average woman uses (and subsequently consumes through eating and drinking) somewhere around 7 pounds of lip products in her lifetime. While the jury is still out on the accuracy of this claim, we can attest that lip balm is a product personally on our daily rotation. In fact, we all reapply it several times a day. So you can imagine our distaste for the stuff when we learned that the hero ingredient in most brands is petroleum jelly, a byproduct of oil drilling. The European Union has banned petroleum jelly from use in skincare products and experts are concerned about its link to cancer. Studies have show that women with breast cancer have twice the levels of hydrocarbons (substances in petroleum jelly) in their breast tissue. But the United States is far from following suit.
While television commercials will have you believe that petroleum jelly is essential to moisturized lips, the truth is that it can only provide short-term relief. It creates a protective barrier over skin, or in this case lips, that traps in your skin's moisture, but creates an impermeable barrier that prohibits skin from breathing. This makes lips even more chapped.
With so many healthy and effective alternatives available, making the switch to a non-toxic, petroleum jelly-free product is easy. Here are a couple of tips to help you soothe your lips without exposing yourself to the dangers of petroleum jelly:
GET MOISTURE-RICH LIPS THE HEALTHY WAY:
- Look for lip balms made without petroleum or other mineral-based ingredients. Instead, look for lip balms with Shea, Cocoa, or Mango Butters or Coconut Oil as they absorb nicely (and safely!) into the skin and naturally improve moisture retention for long-lasting relief.
- Avoid lip balms made with Bnexophenone-3 (a common ingredient in lip balms with sunscreen), as studies have shown it to be a hormone disruptor. The EU has banned it.
- Use lip balms made with organic ingredients whenever possible. After all, you will be absorbing or ingesting some of the ingredients and if they aren't organic you could be exposed to chemical pesticide residue.
- Drink lots of water and stay hydrated.
- For extremely dry lips, use a humidifier at night.
- Research your products on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database to determine if they are healthy enough for your lips.
For every-day kissable lips, the key is consistency. Apply lip balm regularly and not just when lips are dry and cracked. Also, ensure that all lip products you use - not just lip balm - are non-toxic and free of petroleum jelly. Throughout the day we apply layer over layer of lip stick, gloss, and/or lip balm, so if one has petroleum jelly, the other products are rendered useless in their ability to moisturize.