Best lip balms: 12 products recommended by dermatologists

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We worked our lips a lot. Eating, drinking, kissing, licking, and exposing yourself to the elements (unless you’re wearing a mask outside, that is) are just a few of the factors our lips face, it so it’s no surprise that they’re often dry, cracked, and just generally angry.

During the winter months especially, the cold wind and lack of humidity can cause additional dryness and discomfort.

“More water evaporates from the skin with hot showers and heaters,” said Dr. Caren Campbell, a board-certified dermatologist with boutique clinics in Napa and San Francisco. “Then we lick our lips, which causes even more water to evaporate.”

Although these external conditions lead to dry skin everywhere, our lips are much more susceptible to dryness than most other parts of the body.

“It’s quite thin skin compared to other places on your face and it’s also much, much, much more vascular,” said Dr. Morgan Rabach, dermatologist at LM Medical NYC. “There are so many more blood vessels in your lips than there are in the skin of your cheeks, for example. You lose a lot more water through your lips, which is why they’re the only thing which really supports time and drought.

Essentially, most lips have no chance of staying supple all winter long without intervention, so having an effective lip balm on hand is imperative.

What You Should Look For In A Lip Balm

As with any moisturizer, you want your lip balm ingredients to include humectants, emollients and occlusives, according to Dr. Hadley King, board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor in dermatology at Cornell’s Weill Medical College. . University. She says having all three is especially important for good lip products because some have humectants without the emollients and occlusives, which will actually dehydrate the lips in dry environments.

“Lips can definitely take on a lot more oil and what we would call emollients than other places on the skin,” Rabach said. “Even for people who have acne problems and generally want to avoid the greasy or thicker types of emollients, lips can definitely handle it all.”

Emollients are those saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons that help protect the skin and improve the texture and appearance of the skin. They include things like squalane, mineral oil, vitamin E, petrolatum, and ceramides and work really well to help you feel that moisture on your lips.

Rabach suggests applying a thick layer of your most emollient lip products before bed, because you don’t have to worry about talking, eating, or wearing a mask while you sleep. This will allow for better healing and prevent the usual dehydration that tends to happen overnight.

When it comes to the many varieties of emollients, Campbell specifically suggests looking for ceramides, which are fats or lipids in our skin that retain water and the environment on a microscopic level.

“With lip balm, it’s more about creating a barrier because it [chapped lips] is usually linked to lip licking,” she said. She also explained why products with disguised allergens or drying agents can create a vicious cycle.

“You get licker dermatitis from frequently licking your lips and then the water evaporates and it’s dry,” Campbell said. “And then you start using something that potentially has an allergen in it, and you’re more likely to develop allergies on skin that’s already a little angry.”

The overwhelming PSA from all these experts is simple: avoid potential allergens in lip balms. And if you’re not sure what might irritate you, perform a skin test before use.

“Generally in lip products, I recommend avoiding ingredients like menthol, camphor, phenol,” King said. “They initially cool when you put them on, but they quickly evaporate and you have to reapply, which can dry out the skin. Any alcoholic ingredients can also dry out the lips.

Most basic lip balms on the market contain these drying alcohols, according to Rabach, which are really for their own benefit. The combination of ingredients in these products gives you that hydrating feeling, but ends up drying out your lips, which makes people addicted to using the balm.

One ingredient that can sometimes trigger allergies is propolis, a resin-like material made by bees, Campbell said. Propolis can be found in some Burt’s Bee products or other bee-derived balms.

Lip scrubs that contain salicylic acid can also be irritating, along with things like cinnamon oil and peppermint oil, which are sometimes found in lip balms designed to plump, said King. They are supposed to irritate the lips a bit to create that plump effect, but if used more regularly they can cause more serious irritation.

Another thing that experts have advised is to consult your dermatologist if you are having difficulty even after using any of the highly recommended lip balms on this list, especially if the problem is related to lip licking. They can create some compound formulations that are safe to apply but taste bad, which can help you stop licking your lips repeatedly.

About Sally Dominguez

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