• Carla

Looking for the Best Lip Balm for the Winter? We've Got You Covered

Winter is here. Snow, hot choccies, and cute winter outfits are in order. Unfortunately, with winter come chapped, dry and irritated lips as well. To avoid any unnecessary pain or discomfort, it's important to have a moisturizing lip balm handy. But when it comes to making a purchase, you should pay special attention to ingredient lists. Why? Well, first of all, since there's plenty of options in the market, it's really important to look for and purchase only cosmetic products that won't have any negative effects on your skin or overall health.

Additionally, Berkeley scientists have found that when lipstick is used twice daily, the user ingests about 24 milligrams of product a day, which means about 2kg to 4kg of product in a lifetime. Of course, the total quantity increases if you reapply your lip products more often.

It makes very little sense to look for pesticide-free, organic food but then smother your lips with products packed with unhealthy ingredients.


So...what should you avoid?


Paraffin Oil or Wax

Also known as Paraffin, Liquid Paraffin, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Vaseline, Oleum Paraffini, or directly Petroleum. It's a transparent, oily substance, derived from petroleum and composed of saturated hydrocarbons. It's widely used in cosmetics as a cheap occlusive and coating agent. Essentially, it creates some sort of plastic barrier on the skin. Though it's classified by some experts as a good cosmetic option for people with dry, damaged, or flaky skin there's plenty of evidence out there to convince us of its toxicity:

  1. It can't be metabolized - once it's inside your body, it stays for good (usually inside your liver, kidneys, and lymphatic ganglia). There's strong evidence showing that the substance makes it into a mother's breast milk (and therefore, the baby's system)

  2. Some versions might be carcinogenic

  3. It's occlusive, and this is as good as it is bad - it can provide some protection from external agents but it also disrupts the skin’s ability to breathe, release toxins, and absorb moisture. Some people report acne breakouts after using the ingredient as it might also clog the skin pores

  4. It has endocrine-disrupting potential, meaning it can exacerbate hormonal imbalances

In the end, even if you don't trust the evidence shown by these studies, the marginal benefits provided by paraffin can be obtained from safer and non-controversial ingredients like Rhus Verniciflua Wax, ethically-sourced beeswax, or other vegetable oils and butters (Avocado Oil, Marula Oil, Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, etc.).


Parabens

They usually take the form of Propylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Ethylparaben, or Methylparaben and they're used in cosmetic formulations as artificial preservatives with antimicrobial properties. Some studies have shown that parabens can disrupt hormonal balance, negatively impact fertility, or increase the risk of breast cancer, immunotoxicity, and allergies.

Although other studies turned out inconclusive or showed very little endocrine disruptions, there are no studies on the effects of repeated lifelong exposure and ultimately, there are less controversial anti-microbial ingredients in the market that can deliver similar results.


Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (or Octinoxate)

Commonly used as a UV filter by major cosmetic companies (like Dove, L’Oréal, Olay, Aveeno, Avon, Clairol, Revlon, and many others), this ingredient has also been classified as a potential hormone and endocrine disruptor linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity. Additionally, it has shown negative environmental effects like “coral bleaching" and it has therefore been banned in products commercialised in Hawaii.

As for parabens, there isn't sufficient evidence on the effects of lifelong exposure, and more testing is required. Therefore, my suggestion would be to avoid any products containing this ingredient until there is clarity on all its potential effects. If you're looking for lip balms with SPF protection, look for those with safer UV filters, like zinc or titanium.


Lanolin

This commonly used ingredient is essentially a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals and just as paraffin, is used in cosmetics as an occlusive to prevent transepidermal water loss.

Besides being gross and potentially unethical (depending on how it's sourced), it can cause allergies and be poisonous when ingested in big quantities.

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of vegetable-derived ingredients in the market that can provide similar benefits, so let's avoid the sheep sweat, shall we?


We understand it can be tiring to read and research all the INCIs, so here's our selection to keep your lips hydrated, plumped, and pretty all winter long.


Kneipp Almond-Candelilla Lipbalm

Is it vegan? Yes

Is it cruelty-free? Yes (unknown certification)

Main active ingredients: Olive oil, Coconut oil, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Sunflower Oil, Apricot Oil, Marula Oil & Sweet Almond Oil

Why we like it: It's a very good, affordable and vegan option loaded with moisturizing oils coming from certified organic farming

Price: Around 5-6€

Other flavours available: Yes


Burt's Bees Ultra Conditioning Lipbalm

Is it vegan? No (Contains beeswax)

Is it cruelty-free? Yes (Certified by Leaping Bunny & PETA)

Main active ingredients: Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil, Avocado Oil, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Butter, Shea Butter, Orange Oil, Tocopherol

Why we like it: It's a very good formulation, packed with loads of moisturizing oils and butters. It also includes Vitamin E (Tocopherol), which is a wonderful ingredient with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, healing and protective properties. Additionally, the brand is now available in a wide variety of retailers at a very competitive price. The perfect option if you're looking for a good, accessible product.

Price: Around 3-4€

Other flavours available: Yes, though other versions include Lanolin


Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Lip Balm

Is it vegan? No (Contains Beeswax)

Is it cruelty-free? Yes (Certified by Leaping Bunny & PETA)

Main active ingredients: Avocado Oil, Jojoba Oil, Peppermint Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, Tocopherol.

Why we like it: Besides including top ingredients like Hemp Seed Oil and Tocopherol, it's the perfect option if you're looking for plump lips all year round (thanks to the Peppermint Oil in its formulation).

In layman's terms, this lip balm is the well-behaved cousin of the evil CARMEX (which is packed with camphor, petrolatum, paraffin, and MANY other nasties)

Price: Around 4-5€

Other flavours available: Yes


Weleda Everon Lipbalm

Is it vegan? No (Contains Beeswax)

Is it cruelty-free? Yes (Certified by NaTrue)

Main active ingredients: Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter

Why we like it: With 4 different types of wax in its formulation, it's a very good product to use regularly to protect your lips from getting damaged in the first place. It also comes with SPF 4 protection, which is always nice to have.

Price: Around 4-6€

Other flavours available: Not for now


A very important remark before closing off...

If you would like to get out there and explore the market by yourself, it's important to research and understand product formulations. These might include ingredients that don't necessarily deliver on protecting and moisturizing your lips but are added to the formulation to increase the product's spreadability, for their antimicrobial properties, or just to increase the product's shelf life. A good rule of thumb would be to choose products with minimal ingredient lists and as many ecolabels as possible - you can't go wrong!


I would like to ask you to reach out for the lip balm you've been using lately. Does it include any of the nasties discussed above? After reading this article, do you feel like using it up?


Sources:

https://www.beautybakerie.com/blogs/ice-cream-social/why-wearing-beauty-bakerie-will-prevent-you-from-eating-9-pounds-of-lipstick

https://canadianfamily.ca/parents/beauty/cosmetic-culprits/

http://mumri.com/paraffin-wax-in-cosmetics-pros-and-cons.html

https://theskincareedit.com/2014/10/16/petroleum-mineral-oil-skin-products

https://www.lavanguardia.com/vivo/ecologia/20160317/40497212745/parafinas-siliconas-petroleo-piel-hidratacion.html (Spanish)

https://www.ewg.org/californiacosmetics/parabens

https://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/docs/citizens_parabens_en.pdf

https://www.ocu.org/salud/cuidado-piel/consejos/nueve-sustancias-dudosas (Spanish)

https://www.goddessgarden.com/what-is-octinoxate-and-is-it-safe-in-sunscreen/

https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredients/704203-OCTINOXATE/

https://www.healthline.com/health/octinoxate#is-it-safe

http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/octinoxate/

https://www.dermstore.com/blog/is-lanolin-safe/

https://www.healthline.com/health/lanolin-oils

http://www.ecolabelindex.com/ecolabels/?st=category,cosmetics_personal_care


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