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Lip balm can taste good, but there are some ingredients in dry chapped lips remedies that do more harm than good. Here are the chemicals and flavors that don't have any place in the best balm for chapped lips.

There are at least 10 simple, safe, effective, inexpensive, and completely natural remedies for chapped lips that anyone could use at any time. The simple truth is, however, that most of us don't use them. When we are out having fun in the sun we don't take time to do things the natural way. We usually choose an easy to use commercial chapstick that we can apply on the go. Unfortunately, some brands of chapstick make lip irritation worse, not better. There are some ingredients you can find on lip balm lables that aren't the best for chapped lips.

  • Cinnamon. Cinnamon tastes good. It motivates us to use lip balm more often so lips are continuously protected. The problem with cinnamon is that it relieves inflammation in small doses and causes inflammation in large doses [1]. Especially if you begin to get the kind of redness and inflammation at the corners of your mouth called angular cheilitis, make a point of using other flavors of lip balm in addition to cinnamon.
  • Corticosteroids. It doesn't make intuitive sense that corticosteroids, ingredients like Prednisone, that are intended to decrease lip irritation, can actually increase it. However, some people are allergic to the corticosteroids themselves [2]. 
  • D & C red no. 6, D & C yellow no. 10, and other artificial and even natural colors. Some people aren't bothered by artificial colors. Some people are very allergic to artificial colors. Usually if you have stomach upset when you take Aspirin, your lips will tend to get even more chapped and dry when you use chapstick with red or yellow dyes, even "natural" red or yellow dyes such as achiote [3].
  • Lemon oil. Who doesn't like a lemony scent? But lemon oil breaks down the stratum corneum layer of the skin of the lips, and makes them much more sensitive to other allergy-inducing or inflammatory chemicals. Lemon is fine if you don't have other problems with the lip balm you selected, but it will amplify any irritation you experience from other ingredients [4].
  • Jojoba wax. Jojoba wax causes some people to break out. Jojoba oil, on the other hand, usually does not.
  • Mineral oil. Mineral oil is a byproduct of the distillation of crude oil into gasoline (petrol). It's very good at sealing water out of surfaces, but sealing moisture out of your lips can make chapping, cracking, and drying even worse [5]. Mineral oil is prohibited in products sold in the European Union, but you can find it in products in the USA and Canada. Don't buy those products.
  • Nicotine. There are a few brands of lip balm that advertise a buzz from nicotine. The effect is a little like wearing nicotine gum on your lips, but the amount of nicotine you get from the product is unpredictable [6]. 
In general, anything that makes your lips tingle or makes you say "Wow, that's tasty!" is likely to cause inflammation of your lips rather than relieve it.

Ingredients that soothe chapped lips 

On the other hand, there are some ingredients that sound like that they don't belong in chapped lips remedies but that are actually helpful.

  • Water isn't just a filler. It is essential for hydrating your lips.
  • Beeswax lubricates your lips and gives them a smooth texture.
  • Ceramides replace the protective proteins that can break down in your lips.
  • Hydrogenated olive oil is an especially stable form of olive oil that smooths the skin on your lips. Ordinarily, hydrogenated oils are not recommended, but this is an oil you are wearing, not eating. Olive oil is also known as "Olea Europeana Fruit Oil." 
  • Oxybenzones protect your lips against sun, keep the colors in the chapstick from fading, and even make flavors taste better [7].
  • Shea butter is smoothing and antioxidant.
  • "Theobroma"or cocoa butter also soothes and smooths your lips, and tastes like chocolate.
  • Tocopherols are varieties of vitamin E that fight inflammation.

What do you need for cracked lips or chapped lips repair?

The makers of lip balms are not going to tell you this, but the same products that would relieve chapped skin on, say, your elbow, also work on chapped lips. These products tend to have a greater number of natural ingredients that are also found in the best lip balms for dry lips, emphasizing beeswax, cholesterol (which is in many skin products) and the related compound lanosterol, jojoba esters (a chemically modified form of jojoba oil that is not likely to cause an allergy), shea butter (often identified in these products as Butyrospermum Parkii Butter), and wheat germ oil (often identified as Triticum Vulgare Germ Oil).

For the long-term health of your lips, however, you need to use lip balm that contains sunscreen and to reapply it at least every two hours.

For either summer or winter outdoor sports, it's important to apply lip balm 30 minutes before going outside and also to reapply it regularly. Most outdoor recreation enthusiasts don't follow these instructions [8].

This increases their long-term risk of squamous cell carcinoma [9], melanoma, and other forms of lip cancer, and also the nasty black non-cancerous growths that can appear on the lips after years in the sun [10].

  • Photo courtesy of toolsofmen: