Lip conditioner, which may also be referred to as lip balm, is a type of cosmetic product designed to protect, soften, and smooth the lips. Lip conditioners may have different features depending on their intended use. Compared to lip gloss or lipstick, which are most commonly worn by women, lip conditioner is a popular product for both men and women.
At its most basic, lip conditioner is designed to add a protective layer to the lips. It may give the lips a glossy, shiny finish, though some lip conditioners are designed to be matte and invisible. The lip conditioner coats the lips, protecting them from elements such as the wind or cold, while helping to heal cracked, dry, chapped lips.
The ingredients in most lip balms are fairly similar, and may include a base of petrolatum or beeswax, along with softening ingredients such as conditioning oils, like almond oil, or shea butter. Lip conditioners may also include essential oils to add scent, or extra moisturizing or antioxidant ingredients such as vitamins A, C, and E. Some lip conditioners are made with all-natural, organic ingredients. In addition, extra ingredients may be added to serve a specific purpose.
Some types of lip conditioner add sunscreen to protect lips from sun damage. Sun damage to the lips can cause wrinkles, burns, and can lead to skin cancer. In addition, some lip conditioners may be designed to plump the lips and make them appear fuller.
Other types of lip conditioners may be designed to make the lips peel, for the purpose of removing dry, dead skin and healing cold sores; however, some people are sensitive to these types of balms and may wish to avoid them. Some of these ingredients include camphor and menthol, and are best used by people who have cold sores, rather than those who simply want to soften and condition lips. Lip balms that contain these ingredients are often labeled as "medicated" lip balms.
Tinted lip balms are popular as well. These add a hint of color to the lips, while giving lips the benefit of softening and conditioning ingredients. Lip conditioner may be worn alone, or it may be worn underneath lipstick. Be aware that wearing lip balms under lipstick may make the lipstick wear off sooner. Lip conditioners may be found in a twist-up tube form, in a squeeze tube, or in a small pot where the conditioner must be applied with the fingers or a lip brush. They are typically quite inexpensive.