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Regularly slathering your lips with a balm is supposed to protect them right? But are lip balms as moisturising as we're led to believe?
Applying a lip balm a dozen times a day can actually be a telltale sign that there is a bigger issue at hand and that this regular application may not actually be the solution for your dry, chapped or cracked lips after all. When you find yourself reaching for yet another application to soothe your lips, take a moment to peruse the label and become familiar with the ingredients your body is absorbing and ingesting - it has been reported that daily lip balm users ‘eat’ 4 lip balms per year! Scary stuff and exactly why it’s essential to know what ingredients make up that shiny balm.
To help provide some clarity, we’ve highlighted a few red flag ingredients to look out for when selecting your next lip balm, and our top recommendations for keeping your lips super supple and irritation free.
Some people swear by petroleum jelly as their go-to lip balm while others, outside of the possible health effects, make the case that petroleum based skincare products can create the illusion of moisturised, hydrated skin, all the while suffocating your lips. This derivative from oil refining (not eco-friendly!), is a water-repellant and not water-soluble, meaning it merely seals the barrier so that moisture does not leave the skin. While you might feel the instant gratification of a softer pout, you’re actually drying out your skin by keeping out air and moisture. Companies use it because it’s an inexpensive ingredient and for this ‘cling film’ effect on the skin - This effect is often labelled as an ‘occlusive’ and while occlusives absolutely should have a place in skincare, they need to be paired with a humectant (to draw water from the air to the skin) and an emollient (to hydrate and soften skin). Some users may opt to use a petroleum based product on top of a nutrient rich oil/balm, tackling both sides of the argument, however unfortunately the petroleum actually counteracts any of the active ingredients, meaning that if your balm contains any nutrients, the petroleum will make them null and void.
Mineral oil is a byproduct of the process that petroleum goes through as it is made into petrol. It is a colourless and transparent liquid. Similarly to petroleum, mineral oil is a cheaper alternative to vegetable oils such as coconut oil, and again, provides a plastic like coating that seals off the surface of the lips and essentially prevents it from breathing. The downside, besides the associated health concerns, is that it can feel sort of like a plastic in gel form, and can quickly turn to grease on your lips, sliding around (and usually off), leaving you vulnerable and without moisture and needing to reapply every hour on the hour.
So, what should you look for in a safe lip balm?
Lip balms that contain hydrating and nourishing ingredients that wouldn’t concern you if they are ingested. Look for natural ingredients such as shea butter, olive oil and rosehip oil. These ingredients work in harmony with your skin to soothe and hydrate while allowing your skin to breathe. The lip care range from Physic Garden has three of the most nourishing lip balms on the market that are not only natural but incredibly effective. All three give a seal over the lips, providing protection from the elements while moisturising the delicate skin underneath with shea butter and natural oils; we love the inclusion of shea butter as it is enriched with anti-inflammatory properties and contains valuable antioxidants. The creamy formulations melt easily into the lips and forms a non-greasy and breathable barrier. Try the Soul Shine balm with uplifting and invigorating lemon myrtle to kickstart your morning and add a little zing to your beauty routine. Or the Night Jasmine for a calming balm that soothes the skin and the senses after a long and busy day. And while we still have another month of winter ahead of us, there’s no denying that the Winter Lips balm has been our saviour this season. With its blend of eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils, the balm is naturally anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. All three balms are naturopathically formulated and contain only locally sourced healing herbs, ensuring your lips are nourished by nature's best ingredients.