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What are the Most Common Lip Balm Ingredients?

By Laura A.
Updated May 21, 2024
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Lip balms are a wintertime staple for many people with dry lips. Many different formulations exist, but most of them tend to feature very similar ingredients. Among the most popular lip balm ingredients are petroleum jelly, beeswax, and cocoa and shea butter. All of these ingredients do a great job of moisturizing with minimal side effects.

Lip balm is a special treatment designed to add moisture to the lips and improve their condition. Lips can become dry easily, particularly in cold weather. A lip balm soothes and hydrates the lips. Some lip balm ingredients also help protect the lips from developing further damage.

Petroleum jelly is found in almost every lip balm available. It sometimes appears on lip balm ingredients lists as petrolatum. It is widely used in balms in conjunction with hydrating ingredients to help seal in moisture and form a protective barrier. Many natural lip balms use beeswax for this purpose instead of petrolatum. Beeswax is a natural emulsifier that keeps moisture inside the lips and is unlikely to cause allergic reactions.

Cocoa butter is one of the most popular lip balm ingredients thanks to its creamy texture and superior moisturizing abilities. It is also inexpensive and non-irritating. Cocoa butter not only provides hydration, but also forms a seal to help the lips retain moisture. It leaves lips feeling soft and smooth.

Shea butter is another ingredient that moisturizes lips and protects them from the elements. It contains fatty acids that help keep the lips supple and elastic. It’s another one of the more common lip balm ingredients because it contributes to the smooth texture of the balm in addition to boosting moisture.

Menthol and phenol are common lip balm ingredients that should be avoided. These ingredients are responsible for that cool tingling sensation some balms provide. The downside is that these ingredients can dry out the lips, which increases the need to use lip balm. Salicylic acid also can contribute to peeling lips. People with very dry skin should also avoid balms with eucalyptus and peppermint oil.

One of the most important lip balm ingredients to look out for is sunscreen. Protecting the lips from the sun’s harmful rays is vital even during winter when the sun doesn’t seem too strong. The lips are susceptible to skin cancer, so more and more lip balms are addressing this problem by including sunscreens. Some forms of sunscreen found in lip balms include avobenzone, octinoxate, and padimate. Lip balms that offer sun protection will usually indicate the degree of protection on the label.

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Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On May 22, 2012

@burcinc-- My lip balm also has petrolatum, but it's not all-natural. I don't think petrolatum is that bad. Like the article said, it forms a protective barrier over the lips and helps prevent them from losing their moisture and drying out. But if it doesn't have other natural ingredients like natural oils and moisturizing ingredients, it can dry out the lips too because the skin doesn't absorb petrolatum.

Surprisingly, my lip balm has aloe vera too. I didn't think it was a common lip balm ingredient, but maybe it's becoming more popular.

The other two common ingredients it has is jojoba oil and SPF which I think are must haves for a lip balm. Jojoba oil is so good for skin, it makes it soft and plump. SPF is a must too, since our lips have the thinnest type of skin, it needs extra protection.

By ddljohn — On May 21, 2012

@burcinc-- Candelilla wax is a plant-based wax that is added to cosmetics as a thickening agent. It is found in most lip balms. Since lip balms have a solid, thick consistency, it needs thickening agents like candelilla wax. It's also found in lipsticks and lip glosses. Beeswax can be used in place of it and some lip balms have beeswax instead of candelilla wax.

Both of these are natural ingredients. Petrolatum is not natural, and if you want to go the organic, all-natural route, look for lip balms with natural oils instead. Olive oil, coconut oil, grape seed oil are some common oils. I personally think that these are the best lip balms.

By burcinc — On May 20, 2012

I just checked the lip balm I'm using right now for the ingredients. It's a regular, affordable, flavored lip balm that's found at all stores. It lists ingredients like petrolatum, shea butter, candelilla wax, aloe leaf extract, lots of dyes and other ingredients I can't pronounce.

Does anyone know what candelilla wax is? Is that regular wax and is it found in most lip balms?

And isn't it possible to get lip balms without petrolatum? My mom was telling me that petrolatum is bad because it's a petroleum by-product. I think I want a lip balm with more natural ingredients. What kind of ingredients should I look for?

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