Why Chapstick Might Be Doing Your Lips More Harm Than Good

Between the cold, dry air outside and heaters blasting away indoors, it's not difficult to feel like a raisin in the winter. We can be forgiven for reaching for richer creams and body butter to keep our skin from feeling parched and dry all over, but reaching for a tube of lip balm or chapstick may not offer the same kind of relief for scaly, peeling lips. Doctors warn that certain types of lip balm could even do more harm than good, because even though they give your lips some measure of relief, your lips are left even more dehydrated than they were before, especially after the thin layer of moisture evaporates.

"Lip balms with humectants such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin make lips worse," dermatologist Leslie Baumann tells StyleCaster. "These ingredients pull moisture out of the skin, especially in a dry environment, and then the water evaporates away." Dermatologist Diane Madfes tells Women's Health that it's important to look for a combination of ingredients that not only moisturize your lips, but also coats them. "This layer prevents water loss from evaporation, and it also seals the water in." Madfes recommends looking for ingredients like shea butter, evening primrose oil, and beeswax.

Extras in lip balms may actually be bad, too

Having a moisturizer without a sealer isn't the only problem you can have with your favorite lip balms. If you're into fun, fruity, or funky-flavored lip balms, those scented concoctions can be just as problematic. Leah Jacob, an assistant professor of dermatology at Tulane University, says some lip balms can further aggravate already stressed lips by adding extra ingredients such as menthol, salicylic acid, and peppermint flavors. "A lot of people don't have any problems with these ingredients, but people with sensitive skin or allergies may be more sensitive to these on their lips, as well," she said (via LiveScience). 

It may be a good idea to go through your makeup bag to make sure your lip balms have got what it takes to do the job so your lips are winter-ready. Also, drink plenty of water, stay hydrated, and don't lick your lips, because trust us — that only makes things worse.