Why Fragranced Lip Balms Are The Worst For Your Lips, According To Doctors

When searching for the right lip balm this summer, it’s important to reach for products with SPF, ample moisture and hydration. With that said, there are other common lip balm ingredients that are best to avoid and can even make your lips drier.

We checked in with skincare and beauty experts to learn more about one type of lip balm that can irritate your lips as the weather gets warmer, and what to replace it with for optimal skin health. Read on for tips and suggestions from Gigi Sime, skincare expert and owner of My Beauty Clan and Dr. Sanusi Umar, MD, (Dr.U) CEO and founder of the Dr. U Hair and Skin Clinic.


Tip #1: Skip Lip Balms With Fragrances & Flavorings

Fragrances and flavorings are often used in lip balms and other lip products to mask the smell of chemicals and add to the perceived quality of the product, Sime explains.

However, "these two groups of ingredients are known irritants for many people," so it is best to "be wary" if you see the following ingredients listed on a lip balm product: peppermint oil, lanolin, coconut oil, geraniol, citronellol, and even vitamin E. "Some of these ingredients can not only dry out your lips, but also lead to contact dermatitis," she says.

Umar agrees, and says that "it is best to avoid lip balms with parabens." Often found in the cosmetic world, these appear in lip balms as "fragrances or flavors" in many low-quality balms.

This is why it is best to look for a lip balm that is "free of fragrances," Umar stresses, or one that is "scented using natural ingredients such as essential oils."

Additionally, Sime says to steer clear of ingredients like phenol, camphor, and menthol. These have an initial cooling feeling, she notes, and "you will notice these ingredients in lip plumping balms and they do have a nice, temporary plumping effect."

However, these compounds "quickly evaporate from the thin lip skin," taking away any extra moisture with them. Sime adds that you'll "end up needing to frequently reapply the product," which forms a "vicious cycle that ends up drying up your lips" like nothing else.

Tip #2: Choose A Balm With Natural Ingredients

The best type of lip balm is one that has minimal ingredients, Umar advises. "Be sure to choose balms that are free of fragrance and are hypoallergenic," he adds.

Sime suggests looking for ingredients like beeswax it "contains natural emulsifiers that help retain moisture."


Ultimately, Umar concludes, "It is also good to remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated as this is a major part of making sure your lips stay healthy and not dry."