Fact Checked

What are the Different Types of Lip Balm?

Brendan McGuigan
Brendan McGuigan

Lip balm is an ointment used on the lips to help keep them moist and to aid in the healing of sores and cracks. Different types use different ingredients, ranging from petroleum jelly to those relying on "natural" ingredients such as beeswax. This product is different from lip gloss and lipstick, both of which usually serve only a cosmetic purpose. Lip balm, in addition to adding a sheen to the lips, also aims to fight chapping and to protect the sensitive skin of the lips from sunburn.

The most famous brand of lip balm in the United States is ChapStick®, which manufactures hundreds of varieties. The brand has become so popular that its name is often used for any product, no matter the manufacturer. The company produces a number of different product lines, each of which offers different varieties for consumers. The All-Natural line, for example, has additives such as mango butter, jojoba, and vitamin E.

Beeswax is a natural ingredient used in some lip balms.
Beeswax is a natural ingredient used in some lip balms.

Flavored lip balms are also very popular, particularly among younger users. Some manufacturers specialize in different, fun flavors, though most major brands have at least one flavored product available. Popular flavors include strawberry, cherry, and mint, with odd-ball flavors such as coffee offered by some companies.

Though most products have some level of sun protection in them, usually around SPF 4, many manufacturers offer special lines of sun-care balm that contain especially potent sunblock. These are ideal for people who spend extended periods of time in the sun. Most protecting lip balms have an SPF of at least 25, and often contain ingredients such as aloe and vitamin E as well.

Lip balm comes in a variety of colors and flavors.
Lip balm comes in a variety of colors and flavors.

Medicated lip balm is also available from a number of companies. These products contain a number of ingredients meant to soothe pain in the lips and help repair intense damage. Ingredients such as menthol, camphor, and phenol act as analgesics to dull the pain, while petrolatum helps to repair damage to lips.

There are a number of rumors that lip balm is "addictive," requiring users to continue using it or face damage to their lips and experience physical withdrawal symptoms. Most independent investigations suggest that there is no physical addiction occurring with the use of these products, but that users become accustomed to a high level of softness and moisture in their lips, and experience psychological withdrawal when they return to a natural state. This may provoke users to lick their lips in a misguided attempt to remoisturize them, which ultimately serves to dry them out more and cause cracking, which may then be attributed to a physical addiction to the ointment.

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Discussion Comments


I love chapstick. It's the best kind of lip treatment I have ever encountered. Keep making those chapsticks guys!


@JackWhack – Medicated lip balm works like magic. I tend to get a lot of fever blisters, but if I have a medicated lip balm tube handy, I can keep them from getting any worse.

As soon as I start to feel a hot, tingly spot on my lip, I grab the balm and smear some of it on. The kind I buy is a cream that you squeeze out of a tube like toothpaste. It has a slightly minty flavor, and it is extremely effective.

My fever blisters often never even see the light of day. I stop them in their tracks as soon as I feel the symptoms.


I think that the best lip balm is the kind with sunscreen in it. Most people never think about protecting their lips while they are at the beach or working in the yard, but if you make it a practice to always use this kind of lip balm, then you won't have to worry about it.

I started using it on my beach vacation several years ago. It kept my lips so soft, and they never cracked or took on a darker hue from the sun.

Now, I keep a tube of this in my purse and another one in my beach bag at all times. I use it several times a day, and I use it even more often if I am on the beach.


My friend's mom worked in a pharmacy, and she always brought him a tube of his favorite medicated lip balm when she visited. One day, she accidentally brought him some tinted lip balm, and he was surprised to open it and find a shimmery purple stick inside!

He gave it to me, because he had no use for it. I put it on, and my lips instantly took on a nice shimmer. Since the balm was medicated, it made my lips tingle a little, and it felt very cooling.

I always liked those lip balm containers that looked like little pots. It seemed that the balm inside was softer and more easy to apply than the kind in tubes.

I used to use a mango flavored lip balm that was so sticky that I had to wipe my fingers on a paper towel after applying it. It was almost sickeningly sweet, but I found it to be delicious.

It moisturized my lips for hours on end. I was so sad when the company stopped making this kind, because no other type of lip balm has been able to live up to it. I would love to see a resurgence of this lip balm.

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    • Beeswax is a natural ingredient used in some lip balms.
      By: matin
      Beeswax is a natural ingredient used in some lip balms.
    • Lip balm comes in a variety of colors and flavors.
      By: Ekaterina Fribus
      Lip balm comes in a variety of colors and flavors.
    • Lip balm may help heal lip sores.
      By: aseph
      Lip balm may help heal lip sores.
    • Mint is a popular flavor in lip balm.
      By: margo555
      Mint is a popular flavor in lip balm.
    • Petroleum jelly is typically a main ingredient in lip balm.
      By: blueee
      Petroleum jelly is typically a main ingredient in lip balm.