Lauma’s lament: Hi there, and thanks for the incredible website! After reading your posts I’ve learned that many products really aren’t that different, and that there are some things a cream cannot change. But there is one thing that is really bugging me: It drives me crazy when my lips are chapped and sore. I have tried loads of products, such as the lip butters offered by the Body Shop (I could swear they make my lips feel even worse, they become very dry after a few hours), but there is only one balm that actually seemed to help my lips (it was probably the cheapest, too). Now I’m worried they’ll stop selling it so I was wondering if you could tell me what ingredients to look for in other lip balms.
The ingredients in The Balm: Petrolatum, Ceresin, Paraffin, Homosalate, Benzophenone-3, Parfum, Octinoxate, Prunus Armeniaca, Beta-Carotene, C.I. 12150.
Oh, by the way, I am from Latvia. We read you here, too!
The Right Brain’s balmy reply:
Hi Lauma, I think yours is the first Latvian question we’ve ever had – thank you and welcome to the Beauty Brains! To answer your question we’ll start with a quick review of each ingredient in this product.
Petrolatum is a greasy goop better known as petroleum jelly. It’s messy but it’s a great moisturizer. Ceresin and paraffin are both waxes; they blend with the petrolatum to give the lip balm its body. Homosalate, Benzophenonone-3 and Octinoxate are sunscreens. Prunus Armeniaca (apricot extract) and Beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) don’t really serve much purpose at all in a lip balm. And parfum is fragrance .
The first three ingredients are responsible for the way this balm feels on your lips. Of course, the consistency of the product will vary depending on how MUCH of these ingredients are used. Lip balms can be formulated as firm sticks or soft butters. So if you’re looking for a replacement product, look for another balm that has the consistency that you like and that is based on petrolatum thickened with soft waxes. You have a lot of options to chose from; there are at least six different basic types of lip balms!
Beeswax can give a very stiff lip balm, depending on how much is used and what it’s mixed with.
Examples: Ecolips and Blistex Herbal Answer
Petrolatum by itself or mixed with lanolin makes a very buttery balm.
Examples: Vaseline, Palmers Cocoa Butter Lip formula
3. Petrolatum with wax
Wax gives the balm a stiffer texture.
Examples: Carmex, Canus Goat Milk
4. Wax and emollient esters
Some formulas use slippery chemicals called esters to lube your lips.
Examples: Neutrogena Lip Nutrition
5. Waxes with dimethicone
Dimethicone is a type of silicone that is approved as a skin protectant.
Examples: Banana Boat, Aveeno
6. Waxes with aloe vera
Depending on the type of Aloe used, this type of balm may contain a significant amount of water.