Many of us suffer from chapped lips, particularly in the winter months when the cold climate makes it harder for skin tissue to retain moisture, especially those of lips, which is thinner and much more sensitive than the rest of your face. Anyone who has experienced chapped lips will know that it’s not just a matter of appearance; this condition can be pretty painful and even worse, once that flaky skin appears, it’s almost impossible to leave alone.
Almost every skin-care and make-up brand has its own version of lip balm available, so where do you start with choosing a good one? Is spending £15.00 on Bobbi Brown lip balm or £8.00 on L’Occitane really going to give you better results than the cheaper alternatives? It’s worth knowing how some of the ingredients work, or if they work at all.
Some of the old tried and tested brands such as Chapstick, Lipsyl and good old Vaseline are still going strong after decades in our cupboards and gracing the shelves of shops, so it stands to reason that they’re still around because they work. Most of these brands use ingredients such as lanolin, beeswax and petroleum jelly, all known to be soothing whilst creating a barrier to harsh external conditions. Some contain other tempting ingredients such as aloe, another soother that has been used to calm skin and ease discomfort as far back in time as the ancient Greeks and Romans.
The main reason for aloe being an effective ingredient is due to its acidic value – skin and hair (both made of the same thing) is naturally acidic with a P.H. value of around 4.5 to 5.5. Most other things in our environment are alkaline based, causing a shift in balance which can result in drying out. However, most of these petroleum and lanolin based products also contain some form of alcohol, which won’t do those sore lips any favours. So, whilst containing some proven ingredients, balms are more of a preventative than a cure, as by coating the lips, they can actually prevent moisturising elements from being absorbed.
Other, more expensive brands such as Clarins tend to promote lip moisturisers, such as their rose wax moisture replenisher rather than salves. Another popular ingredient used in lip moisturisers is Shea Butter. This works using the skin’s absorption of natural fatty acids present which interestingly, won’t convert to alkali if it comes into contact with external influences. So, some of the expensive brands do appear to do what they say on the tin, although the main effective healing property in all cases is an acidic base, or natural fatty acids. Other brands such as Burt’s Bees or The Body Shop make use of effective, acidic ingredients such as honey that work just as well as expensive brands, but at somewhere around the halfway mark when contemplating cost. The main things to consider when choosing a lip balm are whether it’s going to act as protection or cure – all of these products work depending on the needs of the consumer.
Image Credit- Dirk Schneider (ds-foto)